Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dumping down the snow

What better else is there to do when it's dumping down snow in the hills than go climb a mountain? We couldn't resist, so we grabbed our snowshoes and headed into the storm up to Sun Top Sno-park, just north of Mt. Rainier National Park.

There was a good base of nearly two feet of snow when we began our journey. The trees were painted a fresh hue of white.

We stumbled upon this icy home soon after hitting the trail. What a cozy little igloo!

We had to climb in and check out the inside. It was amazingly bright, even on a cloudy day. Here's Brooke, crawling back out.

Andrea, enjoying a stop by the igloo.

Every time Andrea turned around, there was Brooke munching on a 'snack'....
Mmmm....Nature's Cotton Candy!

Shhh....can you hear it? Listen carefully. It's that perfect, undisturbed stillness.

Andrea took a walk out through the trees to check out the snow hare tracks. We also saw some cougar/mountain lion tracks in the area, along with hoof prints. We were hoping to be able to look down into the valley to see the White River elk herd...but we found nothing.

Brooke pushed through the branches to get a view down into the valley below.

These branches were coated with a fresh breath of snow.

The closer we got to the top, the heavier and thicker the snow. It quickly piled up on our clothing and backpacks.

It would soon be getting dark, so we shifted gears from our constant uphill and took some time to put on our warm coats before we began our descent. There was a good 6-8 inches of snow that hit during our hike, making it hard to make out the prints we had made on our journey up.

It was a beautiful, fun trip! Because of all the snow coming in, there were few people on the trail, making a very quiet, peaceful hike. We'll be sure to get out there again to finish our hike to the top. Time to go home now.

But wait! The adventures don't stop there. Just when we thought all our chances to see elk were finished for the day, we were surprised to see one munching on a carrot outside a house in Greenwater!
Don't see this everyday...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Day Off, Skis, and Crystal Mountain

until this past friday we were unaware that we both had the day off on monday. bonus! we set up to venture out to crystal mountain ski resort with a few friends from rei: sarah, chad [who's been skiing this area for the past 15-20 years], and caleb. it was zero degrees on the slopes and the top ridge was closed down for wind gusts of 45 mph, but that didn't stop us!

my skis [blue] are soooo old! but they were free!

you can't beat the pacific sun. not even with a stick!

what don't you see?
let me help: rain and starbucks!
don't believe everything you read on the internet about seattle.

the calm before the storm.

the smell so alluring. breathe deep and hold.
yankee candle doesn't have anything on cedar or evergreen!

breakin' at the snorting elk. chad and caleb.

chillin'. was cold!

andrea decided to really warm up with a 'face plant,' a wonderful concoction of peppermint schnapps, rum, and hot chocolate. simply divine.

brooke, chad, sarah, and caleb on the way up to the top to tear some stuff up.

mountain man mustache.
after looking at so many gear catalogs over the years, i
have longed for the day that i would sport an icy frozen
'stache... revel in it!

the shuttle back to the car. chad and sarah. we couldn't find
caleb, so we did what any tired skiers would do...we left him

after we went back for caleb, and found him, we finished our
outing at rainier pub and grill in enumclaw [land of evil spirits].

this was a rockin' day, friends...let's do it again!
check out all the pics at

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Vashon Island: Ducks and Coffee Shops

with nothing much planned this weekend, we took advantaged of the empty time to head over to Vashon Island. we left early [for us] in the morning to catch the ferry. i [brooke] love our impromptu day trips; not much planning and a whole lot of improvision. we always seem to find things that we never thought/planned we'd see. take for instance, the original boeing airplane company's red barn.

while on vashon island, we looked around the 'towns' of vashon and burton. there are a few shops that sell various knick-knacks. andrea found a mug of her own!

we also found this cool little boat ramp park with two charming ducks. if you don't know, my wife loves many of them being ducks!

we hung out here for a while, trying to lure these two mallards into our car to take least that was andrea's plan!

after a few photos, we decided it was time to retreat to the car and move on; but the ducks followed!

there was something about this mallard that just melted our hearts. she had a slight limp and fell a lot, but seemed very happy to be a duck.

on our way back to the ferry we stopped at a coffee shop/antique store. although we weren't ready for our 'coffee house time,' we thought we'd have a look-see in the antiques. as i moved towards a misson style floor lamp, my eyes saw what was standing in the corner behind it: a greenland style kayak paddle. a sought after kayak paddle, this one was handmade and only thirty bucks... and it was meant for me!

crumby picture, i's hard to photograph an object that's eight
feet by four inches. check out more examples here.

we finished our day by hanging out at cafe luna and reading some books and magazines. we're planning on hitting up vashon island again in the spring when it's not so cold to bike a 32 mile loop around the island.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mowich Lake | Mount Rainier Snowshoeing

since our fall camping/hiking trip to mowich lake, we often conversed about heading back to do some snow camping. with being on a weekend schedule of snowshoe, ski, snowshoe, ski...etc, we had the weekend to 'scope' out the route.

after checking our maps, books, and internet resources, we found that 'theoretically' we could drive up to the park boundary, then snowshoe ten miles round trip up to the camp site and back. looks great on a chalk board doesn't it?!

after eleven miles of this snow covered mud and gravel road, we reached a point to where we didn't think we should proceed. the snow deepened and the frequency of people [normally a good thing] diminished, we decided to halt our adventure with four wheel drive and continue on foot via snowshoes.

moments after buckling up our snowshoes and setting off, a full size truck came rolling through, plowed into the deeper snow, and quickly stopped. as we jaunted by, lofting on top of the snow, my heart and head had a quick discussion about what it meant to value people over myself. my heart won. we unbuckled our snowshoes and helped dig the snow out from around the family's tires. we tried to push but the heavy, four wheel drive, V-8 truck was stuck. after another heart to head discussion, our xterra was hooked up via tow strap to the beast-of-an-american-truck, and we were pulling it the deep snow.

the way i looked after andrea told me what a man
i was. she said, 'did you see how you just pulled
that big-ass truck out of there?!'

after an hour and a half of vehicle extraction we were finally on our way snowshoeing to one of our favorite camping spots.

we hiked about three miles in uneven, rutted, icy snow, when we rounded a bend to a beautiful vista. i, brooke, was happy to arrive as my leg was in some pain. i guess i'm feeling the pains of getting old?!

for mom k: even though i was in pain, there's always a smile for a wide-open-mouth photo.

although i didn't feel like going one step further, andrea sweetly encouraged me to keep going. she felt that the entrance to the park was right around the next bend. what do you was!

she was rather happy!

with daylight fading, we quickly head back three miles to the car, stopping only for the necessities: water, me to rest my leg [and swear a little], and photos.

just as darkness closed in around us we arrived back at our truck. we were tired, i was in pain. but the whole trip was worth it.

now back down the mountain with the hopes we won't get it was way after dark and no one was around!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

REI ski trip to Snoqualmie Pass

One of the cool things about working at REI is all the fun adventures I take with my co-workers on our days off. This past Tuesday a few of us headed up to Snoqualmie Pass (where I-90 crosses through the Cascades) to hit the slopes.

Here's Yates getting the truck all chained up.
Ohio friends: Can you believe all this madness?...chains are legal? 4WD vehicles? snow covered express ways? no salt?
Washington friends: I guess this is normal...

Found a spot on the 'street' and got all our stuff lined up and ready to go!

We picked a perfect day...the Pass got about a foot of fresh powder that day, and there was barely anyone else there to pack it down (except for 150 Australians...but they mostly hung out inside.)


I snatched up a great pair of skis (at an even better price) at our recent garage sale at REI. I was finally able to get out and break 'em in. They were pure butter.

Taking a break for pizza and beer.
The gang: Lisa, Sarah, Eric, me, Kirsten, Chad (taking picture)

Sarah and Lisa after a few drinks

Kirsten and I sporting the bling.
I couldn't even see out of these things!...come to find out I was using night goggles.

After a round of drinks the more-experienced skiers took us less-experienced skiers on a couple larger runs (seemed like a fantastic idea after a beer.) This was before the frustration set in...still in good spirits: Chad, Lisa, Sarah, me (where's Yates?....must've gone in for another Irish Coffee)

My chair lift buddy: Lisa

Sarah and I gettin' nuts on the chair lift.

After a long hard day of skiing...we head in for one more beer.
Was this picture taken in the 70's? Hold on...let me get out the slide projector...

It was a great, fun day of skiing with friends!

I love how the snow is so blue out here.

Quiet winter scene

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