Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ellensburg Rodeo 2008

what better way to spend a hot saturday afternoon
then to go to a rodeo!

we took a little time for the meet and greet.
for those that don't know, rodeos are one of andrea's
favorite things!

these guys were so noble.

this my friends, is call bare-back bronc bustin'!

these guys had no idea what the were in for!

cattle tackling;

cattle roping!

up next were saddle-back bronc bustn'.

through out the day i kept thinking about my college
roommate who left school to become a rodeo cowboy.

'half time.' the one arm bandit.

out came the barrel racing girls.

the funniest event of the day: cow milking!

really, they have to lasso and then milk the cows!

the rodeo finish off with bull riding! these guys are crazy...
both the riders and bulls!

we had a blast at the rodeo. we'll be sure to check back in next year!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Spray Park, Mt. Rainier

the snow has melted enough that we were finally able to make the trip up to mowich lake. we've wanted to get up into spray park [heaven on earth] during wildflower season. we ventured out with our good friends bryan and melia. we arrived at mowich lake friday evening with time to set up the tents, drink a beer or two, and gaze up at the un[light]polluted night sky and take in more stars then we have ever seen. luckily brooke stowed away our tripod to take a few long exposure photos!

Ursa Major; big dipper.
30 second exposure; no photoshop.

though being kept awake by field mice running over our tent all night, we finally awoke to a morning with dew on the ground and a chill in the air. we forgot our real breakfast on the counter back at home so bryan offered us a few snack bars and we hit the trail towards spray park.

bryan and melia [20 months]. this is at eagle's lookout, about 2 miles into our hike; about 1 mile after melia fell asleep.

don't try this at home! byran has climbed his fare share of mountains [try all the cascade volcanoes except mt glaicer and mt jefferson] and has summitted rainier more times then i can remember. bryan is the type of guy who is into every non-organized sport. whenever you asked him what he did the prior weekend he replies, 'surfed,' 'mountain-biked,' 'rock climbed,' 'skied' or 'whitewater kayaked.' he's a good guy to have around... full of humor, insight, and random stories!

on the other side of the stream lies spray falls. what a beautiful sight!

this is at the start of the switchback-filled hike up into spray park. i think melia woke up while bryan was crossing the stream!

i think this is andrea's second favorite place on earth; next to the grand tetons. she is convinced that a little piece of heaven will resemble spray park. i tend to agree.

i sort of thought that once we reached spray park we'd look around, then hike back down. i should have known better. bryan looked back and said, 'we've got plenty of time.' so we headed forward and up.

through snowfields.

past the treeline.

and up to a ridge about a mile shy of the russell glacier.

'look melia, we're so close!'

the panorama we were treated to! if you look closely, you can see mt baker [left] and mt glacier [center,] and of course, mt rainier [right.]

our happy climbers. melia was a great 20 month-old hiker! she fussed very little for being in a backpack carrier for six hours!

wishing we had crampons and skis! at least brooke was.

melia the conqueror!

after spending an hour or so on the ridge, we started to head back down. brooke stopped along the way to snap a few photos of wildflowers he hadn't seen yet.

Dodecatheon alpinum; Alpine Shooting Star

Erythronium montanum; Avalanche Lily or Glacier Lily

Xerophyllum tenax; Bear Grass or Indian Basket Grass

lady bug.

what a beautiful weekend to be out in the mountains! blue skies, bright sun...sort of ruins the seattle rain cliche!

we'll have to branch out for you guys next weekend. i know you probably feel inundated with hiking and mountain reports...maybe we can throw something different at you! :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Happy Lake Ridge Trail

to get away before the school starts, we intended to head out of a three day backpack from stehekin into the north cascades. when we saw that the weather was going to be in the 100's, we decided last minute [thursday afternoon, our day of departure] to switch to the olympic pennisula. we haven't ventured far into the olympics yet, so we thought a three day backpack would do us well.

we hiked the happy ridge loop trail, counter-clockwise. while the first two and a half miles would be almost 2500 feet in elevation gain, the next 18 miles after that would be relatively downhill. we found that 'relatively' is a relative word.

tired, but in good spirits.

here brooke's hiking poles are taking a break.

Brooke setting up 'home' at happy lake. happy lake was relaxing, however the mosquitoes were almost as bad as buffalo river state park. while setting up camp, brooke looked over to see andrea...

well...he really didn't know what she was doing! he guessed she was trying to take refuge from the onslaught of skeeters by hiding under her sleeping pad!

she confirmed...yes! yes, she was trying to take refuge!

as the temperature started to drop, so did the mosiquitos. we cooked dinner [freeze dried oriental chicken and rice] ate, and then crawled into our tent to slowly fade into a slumber.

exhale...ahhhhhhhhh. happy lake indeed!

the next day we woke a little sore, as our feet tried to tell us to sleep a little longer, we knew we should get going. we were excited for all of the possibilities that lay ahead.

when we hiked back up to the ridge, we were greeted to a 'good morning' by millions of wildflowers, bright blue skies, and views that would make it hard to concentrate on hiking.

although faint in this photograph, we could look north to the mountains of vancouver island and the straight of juan de fuca.

still smiling after almost 3000 feet of elevation gain in four miles!

stopping to take in the scenery.

hiking on a ridge was a new experience. as we surveyed our surrounding, we found millions of gorgeous wildflowers: Phyllodoce empetriformis; Pink Mountain Heather...

and Aquilegia formosa; Crimson Columbine.

and Penstemon serrulatus; Cascade Penstemon.

but the beauty of the wildflowers were starkly contrasted to the ridge line trees that looked as if they had been battered by storm after storm until they decided it was time to wither up and call it quits.

i guess one downfall of hiking on the ridge was coming face to face with the trees that decided to call it quits in the heavy winds. one after another, we stepped [read: climbed or scaled] over trees. when you're on the ridge stepping down and around isn't always an option.

after so much fancy foot work, we'd feel our blister-burn come back!

when our feet got to the point of exhaustion, we rounded the corner to a view of mt olympus that quickly took our minds off the pain!

we spent the better part of the day hiking from happy lake to boulder lake. in the heat, we ran out of water, and we still were a long way off from our destination. stumbling into boulder lake, we have never been more dehydrated. note to self: from now on, we carry 64 ounces of water each!

just when we got to the point that we were going to breakdown, we saw this bluish-green blessing appear through the trees. boulder lake catches the snow melt from boulder peak. we filtered two bottles of water, sat on a log and drank water like a bunch of college guys drinking beer at a frat party! then we filtered more water!

after rehydrating and eating lunch, we set out for olympic hot springs. it was an enjoyable hike through dense vegatation. slightly different from being up on the ridge.

after arriving to olympic hot springs, it was time for dinner! it's amazing how hungry you get by walking around!

brooke decided it was his turn to 'do the dishes.'

post dinner. two days hiking in upper eighty degree weather! we couldn't smell ourselves, so we knew we smelled equally bad!

that's ok, because we woke eager to a treat that was awaiting us! olympic hot springs isn't called olympic hot springs for nothing! it is an old hot spring resort that went out of business in the 60's. the nps cleared out all of the old buildings and shut down the road. hikers have built up rock pools around the natural hot water seeps and have created different pools to soak your trail worn body! and soak we did! we then ventured down to the icy waters of the boulder creek to filter water...andrea found a 'sweet spot!' a little pool that folks had tried to make to capture a mixture of a hot springs seep and cold creek water! brooke tried to improve it, but slipped on some mossy rocks and crashed into the river stones! ouch! [the camera was accidently left at the camp :( ].

after drying off and limping back to camp, we packed up our gear and started the four mile hike back to our car.
over a few sections of washed out trail, and down the old hot springs road...

through some amazing smelling evergreen trees...

drinking plenty of high quality h20...

through a stream...

and finally back to the park road. we were glad to see a park ranger stop and offer us a ride back to our car...that was still another two miles down the road!

we climbed into our car and started making our way home. although we stopped at a safeway for food, a safeway gas station for drinks, and pizza in port townsend...we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the wilderness! we will return soon!

after arriving home, we took long hot showers and surveyed the damage.

it's just not backpacking if you don't endure some massive blisters!