Saturday, May 31, 2014


Total walking miles Monday through Friday (5/26 - 5/30): 77.6
Total training miles today (5/31): about 16.1

The perfect morning for walking. What is it?
     1) I am healthy and fit, and I have friends to share the trail with me
     2) The weather is good. No, the weather is perfect: not too hot or cold. And definitely not raining.
     3) There are no bugs trying to eat us!
     4) We have a great place to walk and a beautiful world to admire.

We walked our "traditional" walk this morning, making a loop around the periphery of the Palmer Coking Coal property. We walked by Frog Lake. It was very pretty in the morning light. There were Yellow Flags growing and blooming in the lake.

Frog Lake with Yellow Flag blooming.
We walked by Lake Sawyer.
Bridget always has to swim after a stick thrown in the water.
Bud loved cooling off too.
Patti throws a stick for Bridget. Bud cools off and gets a drink.
 We walked through the woods. The ferns were beautiful (perfect) in the morning light.
Bob walking the trail with sword ferns on every side.
Mount Rainier was splendid (perfect) with the morning sun making the snow gleam.

Some say, however, that the greatest perfection is imperfection.
Because, if it was perfect, then there would be no room for something better.

Perhaps today really wasn't perfect after all.
We both miss having Debbie with us this weekend.
Perhaps next weekend will be more perfect?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Lost Lake - Norse Peak Wilderness

Friday, May 30
Total Miles: 14.1

Awesome, Amazing, Unbelievable.
These three words must have come out of my mouth over fifty times during this hike.

The hike to Lost Lake in the Norse Peak Wilderness starts just off of forest service road #70. This road is about two miles east of Greenwater, Washington off of highway 410. It took me 50 minutes to drive to the trail head from my house in Black Diamond.

Forest service road #70 is paved all the way to the start of the Greenwater Lakes Trail (#1176). There is a nice parking lot with a rest room. Of note, they charge a daily $5 fee to park there (maintenance fee), and a Forest Service recreation pass is also required.

Map of the trail to Lost Lake
The turn off from Forest Service Road #70 is well marked. It is about 9.2 miles from highway 410.

It is an easy hike to the Greenwater Lakes. The trail follows the Greenwater river and has several wonderful bridges that cross the river. It is a lovely hike through dense forest with many little streams and ferns along the way. There is a slight elevation gain, but I would consider it an easy hike.
One of several bridges over the Greenwater River
The Greenwater Lakes are lovely. There were geese feeding in the shallows. The water is an amazing blue.
Greenwater Lake

Geese feeding in Greenwater Lake

From the upper Greenwater lake, the trail follows the river for another mile to the junction with the Lost Lake and Echo Lake trails. The Lost Lake trail heads south (uphill).

The elevation gain on the way to Lost Lake is modest, but steady. I did not find it very difficult, and I was carrying a 28 pound pack. After another mile and a half, the trail passes Quinn Lake. It is a beautiful turquoise.
Quinn Lake
As the trail nears Lost Lake, it starts to break out of the mature forest. There were small patches of snow on the trail in places. The alpine views were breathtaking. 
Open fields near Lost Lake
Lost Lake is beautiful. Across the lake can be heard the roar of a water fall. 

There are several great camping sites along the lake. However, since this lake is in the Norse Peak Wilderness, an overnight wilderness permit is required. I sat in the sun for a while, sent out an "I'm OK" message on my new SPOT device, and ate a bite of lunch.

A few more glimpses of the scenery:

Trail to Lost Lake.

Massive giants tower overhead

Vine maple reflecting the sunlight.

Wooden footpath over a marshy area

Forest ferns

Amazing rock formations along the Greenwater River
On the trip back, I saw over a dozen people heading up the trail. It seems most were headed to Echo Lake, so perhaps that will be my destination on another hike soon.

This has to be one of the BEST hikes I have ever taken. It is highly recommended!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tiger Mountain - Poo Poo Point Trail

Walking Time: 4 Hours
Miles: 10.2

It's Memorial Day and I have time to get in another hike.

Today I chose a popular hike on Tiger Mountain. The hike is to Poo Poo Point. It is a funny name, but it is the cleared area high up on Tiger Mountain where the hang-gliders launch themselves.

Poo Poo Point Trail (using the High School Trail)
There are two trails to Poo Poo Point. One follows the Chirico trail from the hang-glider landing strip. It is a shorter trail, but steeper. The other starts near Issaquah High School, and follows the High School trail and thence to the Poo Poo Point trail.

I expected that there wouldn't be too many hikers today, because, like many Memorial Days, the weather was cloudy and threatening rain. I found the small parking lot just off 2nd avenue in Issaquah, but there were already five cars parked there, so I found a spot along the road and headed up the well used trail.

Junction with Poo Poo Point Trail
The first half mile of trail was a bit muddy due to the rain overnight. The High School Trail then starts a slow but constant climb, first following an old logging road, and then winding through dense forest with ferns and mossy trees.
Beautiful ferns and mossy trees
There were a few wonderful streams, and one with a very well made bridge. At about mile two, the trail begins to climb in earnest, and I had to pause many times to catch my breath. It didn't help that the tread was muddy in places, so I had to be careful not to slip.
One of the several bridges. My face was red due to the constant climb.
This was a good excuse to catch my breath!
The trail finally leveled out at the junction with the West Tiger Railroad trail and the One View Trail. Both of these seemed to be climbing higher, so I was excited when I saw that the trail to Poo Poo Point began to descend!
Junction with West Tiger Railroad Grade and the One View Trail.
Poo Poo Point is about one-half mile away.
Within a half mile the trail emerged to the road which led to the Poo Poo Point hang glider launching area. One note, the last half mile of trail goes through dense Salmon Berry bushes. When it has just rained, it is impossible not to get a soaking.

When I first arrived, the clouds were hugging the ground and there was no view.
Socked in and no view - but I was there at Poo Poo Point!

Solar panel and other equipment.

Wind sock at top of tower

Hang Glider Launch Pads

Fortunately, as I stopped to change my shirt, the clouds began to thin giving me some fabulous views of the Issaquah valley and Lake Sammamish.
Lake Sammamish in the distance.

Issaquah valley from Poo Poo Point

The hike back was no picnic either. You need strong legs and good shoes and socks, as the descent is relentless as well. Those with poor-fitting shoes would likely get blisters, so we aware.

I made the round trip in four hours. I spent about 30 minutes at the top getting a bite to eat, taking pictures, and changing clothes. The map indicates that it would be about 8 1/2 miles round trip, so I assume my measurement includes some of the hiking around Poo Poo Point. This is a great training hike. I met a number of people who were running up the trail! I'm not sure how well they did in the muddy areas, but it sure is a good trail to gain endurance.

Hurt Feelings

Total Training Miles Today (Sunday 5/25): 15.6 miles

I'm posting this blog a day late. I needed time to think about friends and hurt feelings. 

Often, we take our friends for granted. We sometimes forget that they cannot read our minds, or know our intentions. Sometimes an innocent comment or decision results in hurt feelings.

From the time I decided to try to train enough to be able to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, the hiking buddies (Patti, Debbie and I) have been so excited. We've been gathering gear. We've talked about food and practiced using our stoves. We've been wearing our packs and pushing our bodies in order to be able to go on longer hikes, including overnight hikes.

We all talked earlier in the year about where we should go on an overnight training hike. Patti suggested that we hike somewhere near Lake Chelan, and suggested that her brother (who lives there) could help plan a hike. Unfortunately, he was unable to help plan it and so we put the idea on the back burner. 

Since no one else brought forth any ideas, I suggested that we ought to meet at our cabin and hike from there up Deep Creek and camp at the lakes near Noble Knob. The hike would have to take place late enough so that the snow would be melted. I picked the second weekend in July and we all agreed that we would set aside that weekend for our camp out. 

As it turns out, Patti mentioned several weeks ago that she is planning on taking vacation the first week in July. She asked if anyone would want to plan something during that time. Well, that struck a chord for me, because that is the week that I typically take vacation too. So, last week, I got the idea that we should go to Lake Chelan and hike there. The weather usually is much better and I have always wanted to hike some of the trials there. The plan developed and my wife, Valorie, even became a part of the plan. She wants to take the boat to Stehekin and stay for a couple of days there while we hike the Lake Shore trail.

What I didn't realize was that this overnight hike would take place several weeks before our "hiking buddy" camp out near Noble Knob. And to make things worse, Debbie could not get time off to join us. 

I feel like such a bozo because I didn't realize this when we made our plans for Lake Chelan. And now, Debbie has hurt feelings. I understand that, and it was my mistake. I know we all wanted to camp out together to use our gear for the first time. And now that isn't likely to happen. 

I have thought and thought about how to fix this, but with Debbie going car camping next weekend, and with Father's Day weekend after that, we really don't have much of an opportunity to all do something together. I am so sorry.

I am hoping is that our friendship is strong enough to overcome my insensitivity. My dad always said, "there is always a little good in everything." Perhaps I need to look harder and longer to see it in this instance.

Here are a few pictures from our walk today, before Debbie expressed how hurt she was.
Patti and Debbie

Crossing the Ladder Bridge

Bob and Debbie

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Old and The New

This is my favorite time of year.
Everything is growing; everything seems so fresh and new.
There is so much hope.

Our walk today got me thinking about new and old.

We walk over ground that has changed over the ages. Today I am walking a path that is at the same time both new and old. I see the new growth; green is everywhere. Yet underneath, and alongside the path, there is evidence that much has come before. Years ago, it too was new, but now, it is old, even ancient, and almost gone.

Along the path today I saw old cedar stumps. The trees were logged from the land almost 100 years ago. The stumps remind me of what was old. They were mighty and new in their day. And now, they are gone, almost forgotten. Yet, growing next to these old treasures, are new cedar trees, towering to the sky.

The new is present. Should I be happy or sad? Happy that life continues and abounds? Or sad, seeing that the grandeur of what was, is fading, and is only a shadow of what was?

I think about my life. I am still young in my mind, but my body reminds me of the years I have lived. My skin, my hair, my outward appearance betrays my mind. Many see me as old. But, I choose to see each day as new; I yearn to enjoy the excitement of each new day and to be hopeful about my future. I choose to listen to that which is hopeful; to feel the joy of the new; and to respect what I now see as old.

I am happy to have friends that will walk with me to enjoy the present, to see the new, and to appreciate all that has come before and is now seen only as a shadow.

New and old...they are both good. They are both a part of a wonderful mystery of time.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect

Total Training Miles Today (Sunday 5/18): 15.5 miles

If you do something over and over, you'll get better at it - practice makes perfect.

Patti surprised us this morning with the announcement that she had brought along some treats, and that we would be stopping along the way to have a warm beverage. The plan was for each of us to get out our stoves and boil a cup of water. She brought along hot chocolate and tea for our water. How fun!

In retrospect, today had to have been one of the funnest days of walking in a long time. The weather was just right. A few clouds, but breaks in the clouds with a bit of blue sky peeking out here and there. The temperature was just right too; not too cold so as to need a coat, but not so warm that it was uncomfortable while hiking. Birds were singing. Yes, lots of birds. I even commented at one point that the birds were really loud, if that is even possible!

Patti and Debbie both looked great. Patti sported a new hat, and Debbie looked great having just been to the hair stylist. Here they are, just before we set out on our walk.

Patti and Debbie
 We walked a few different trails at the start, but crossed Ravensdale Creek on the ladder bridge. The dogs always like this spot since they get to swim across. Bridget made a diving splash as she dove in to fetch a stick.
At the ladder bridge. Bud is in the water. He gets a drink by biting at the water!

Bridget hits the water chasing after a stick.
We followed Ravensdale Creek towards Lake Sawyer. Bud was moving more slowly today; I don't think he is feeling very well. However, Patti urged him on and he managed to stay with the pack.
Bud on the trail near Ravensdale Creek.
At Lake Sawyer, we all stopped to boil some water. I pulled out my Caldera Cone and pop-can stove and set my one cup of water on the stove to boil. Patti gave me a package of hot chocolate mix, and after a few minutes the water was ready. It was really good as I sat on a rock by the lake. Thank you, Patti!

This was the first time for Patti and Debbie to try out their new JetBoil stoves.

Unfortunately, Debbie remembered that she had NOT bought a gas canister, because when she bought the stove at REI, her husband said that she should get the gas canister cheaper at Walmart. Well, that would have been a good plan had they stopped and bought one there.

Patti had never assembled her stove. But, with a little help, she got everything put together, and the stove roared to life. It quickly boiled two cups of water, to which she added a package of hot chocolate. Yes, one package of hot chocolate to two cups of water. It made for very weak hot chocolate.
Patti using her camping stove for the very first time.

Debbie sorted through her pack and found a perfect cup for her hot chocolate. Bridget wasn't sure what we were doing, and took the opportunity to sniff about hoping for a dogie treat.
Debbie with her pack, searching for a cup.
Bridget in her "begging" pose, hoping we were fixing something for her.
After enjoying, or in their case, NOT enjoying their beverage, we packed everything back up. On the way back, we heard these "clinking" and "clanking" noises. It was coming from Patti's pack, probably the result of packing the stove loosely allowing the components to jangle as she walked along.

Today was a great learning experience. And, it was FUN!
We learn by doing. 
Practice will make it perfect. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I need a Crystal Ball

Total Walking Miles this past week (Monday 5/12 - Friday 5/16):  90.7 miles
Total Training Miles Today (Saturday 5/17): 15.7 miles

We changed our walking start time to 6, since it is getting light now by 5:30. Patti arrived shortly after I did, and her first words were, "What did you tell Brody about our hiking?" Brody is her boss, who works at Edward Jones Investments. I had been in the office earlier in the week reviewing my investments, and I had mentioned my desire of walking the Pacific Crest Trail. Of course, Patti has always talked about wanting to walk the trail. And, at that, Brody said, "Well, why don't you take a 5 month leave of absence?"

I wish I had a crystal ball and could see the future. I would be SO fun to hike he length of the trail with one or both of my hiking buddies. But, realistically, I know how difficult that would be. And scary. There are so many unknowns. Everyone thinks we are too old; that it's too late for us to do something that hard. On the other had, I read the stories of those walking the trail (even as I write this), and they are struggling, sure, but they are doing it. They are finding a way. And they are making memories of a lifetime!

We had a good walk today. We saw the herd of elk again... It's always fun to watch them. In addition, we saw a deer in the field. We call her "Our Deer Friend".
Our deer friend in the field beside the road.
We decided to walk the trail around Frog Lake, since we were fairly sure that the water level was low enough to walk on a mostly dry path. The forest was SO green as we headed to the lake. Bud was lagging a bit today, but managed to keep with us most of the time.
Trail to Frog Lake. Bud was lagging a bit, but managed to keep up.
 At Frog Lake, there are a pair of geese that must have a nest somewhere close by, because they kept making "honking" noises and refused to fly off as we walked along the lake.
Geese must have a nest somewhere close by.
I just love this spot on the trail. It looks out over Frog Lake. Just before I got here, a large bull frog jumped into the water, making a loud splash.
Yellow flag flowers growing around Frog Lake.
When we arrived at Lake Sawyer, we saw a mother duck and her little tiny ducklings. They were roaming in search of bugs.
Mother duck and her ducklings at Lake Sawyer. I noticed there is a beer bottle floating here as well.
Who would toss something like that into the lake?
 We talked a lot this morning about our hiking gear. On our way to the ladder bridge, we were attacked by very hungry and persistent mosquitoes. Debbie stopped to put on bug spray; Patti put on her coat and put up her hood. She kind of looks like "Little Red Riding Hood", don't you think?
Debbie, Bob and Patti at the ladder bridge.
We made our way back to the car, having spent almost exactly two hours on the trail. I announced to everyone that I plan to retire effective January 1, 2015. Of course, that led to wondering if I should try to walk the PCT next year. It gives me a lot to think about. How ready is ready? Is there a reason to rush into the BIG ONE? 

Oh, where is that crystal ball when it need it?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Tiger Mountain Loop - 16 miles

I noticed on the map of Tiger Mountain that it would be possible to do a loop hike, IF I was willing to walk a few more miles.

Me, walk more miles? Give me a challenge, new trails, and time, and I'm off!

I arrived at the trail head at 6:30 and headed out on the Northwest Timber Trail. The grade was easy and the forest was spectacular. Over several of the streams there are sturdy wooden bridges. Birds were flitting from branch to branch. At one point the trail breaks out with a view across the valley.
There are several areas with moss-covered limbs.
I stood under an ancient stump.

One of the many wooden bridges over rushing streams.
Views of the surrounding hills from the Northwest Timber trail.
The Northwest timber trail exits onto the Tiger Mountain Road. I headed north, walking for almost two miles. The road is an easy walk (mostly level) with only one climb. There are several new trails heading up the mountain from the road, but they were not marked.

I finally arrived at the Preston Railroad Trail, which was well marked.
Start of the Preston Railroad Trail. 
I followed the Preston Railroad trail for three miles. It switch-backs up East Tiger mountain with an easy but steady grade. This is a popular trail used by mountain bikers, who travel down the trail. I saw five bikers who were all very friendly.
View while walking up the Preston Railroad Trail.
At the top, the trail exits onto the Main Tiger Mountain Road. I headed west on the road and then headed up a spur road about a half mile to where the Middle Tiger Trail starts.
Spur road leading to the Middle Tiger Trail.
There were some good views across the valley to West Tiger Mountain. Along the top are many cell and radio towers.
View of West Tiger Mountain.
 The Middle Tiger Trail joins to the Tiger Mountain Trail. I had walked this section of the trail last week and it goes by the train wreck site and then exits to the West Side Road 1000. I headed down the road and took the Iverson Railroad Trail back to the car.
Headed up the Iverson Railroad Trail
 The map below shows the route I took (blue line).
The loop route (blue). I walked it counter-clockwise. The distance is about 16 miles.
This hike was mostly easy walking, with a few steep sections. I was pleasantly surprised that the Preston Railroad Trail was an easy grade. The Middle Tiger Trail is the only one I would consider difficult, especially coming down from the top of Middle Tiger to where the trail meets the Tiger Mountain Trail.