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Archive for October, 2007

Snow Lake

Directions:  drive east on I-90 and take exit 52 for Snoqualmie Pass.  Drive under highway overpass, take a right on Alpental Rd.  Drive about 2 miles to the ski parking area and trailhead.

Info.:  7+ mile hike, 1,300 ft elevation gain, easy/moderate hike.

It’s been a few years since I have hiked to Snow Lake, but it is a beautiful hike which leads to breathe-taking views of Snow Lake, one of the area Alpine lakes, and to gorgeous views of the surrounding moutain ranges.  It is a fairly popular hike, so you are likely to run into other hikers along the way.  The lush forest and clear scenic views, make this a more than worthy hike.  The only downfall is that there are SEVERAL switchbacks on the way up…you start to feel like maybe you should just dart straight up and bypass some of the tedious one-foot gain switchbacks!  When you reach the top of the moutainside, you have almost a 360 degree view of the area – it’s such a spectacular site!  I have some old pics of this hike…I’ll have to dig them out and post a photo or two.

theresaandapril2002.jpgMy friend, April, with me, after our long hike.  This was taken by the lake…it was the only time I hiked Snow Lake in fog!  I love that my friend is drinking a Pepsi…after hiking!   Silly girl!

snowlake.jpg Snow Lake…aaaah, so beautiful!  I could have sat there for hours soaking up the view.  …the definition of peace!  So lovely! 

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Heather Lake

Heather Lake, situated below Mt. Pilchuck, along Mountain Loop highway, is one of my favorite hikes…and not just because it is easy…well, ok, maybe in part, but that’s not the only reason I enjoy this hike.   It’s about a 4 mile hike, round trip, and it does have some elevation gain, and no, I don’t remember the exact gain (like I have the brain power to remember elevation gain!), I just remember feeling a little relieved every time I make it to the lake.  In order to fully experience Heather Lake, I suggest hiking it once in early spring, then again during the summer.  Why?  Well, certainly the lush foliage and forestry and trickling waterfalls, makes this hike memorable, but during early spring (maybe winter) the lake is silhouetted in snow and ice – which is gorgeous, and makes the hike well worth the trek.  During the summer, you have the dense foliage to protect you from the heat, and you can carry along a change of clothes and/or swimsuit to go swimming and even a fishing pool for the lake. 

I did not realize until one of the last times I went hiking to Heather Lake that you can completely walk around the exterior of the lake and find a boulder-rimmed swimming hole along the backside – you can spend the entire day swimming and sunbathing!  What’s more, it is a secluded area (So, haha, no one but my unfortunate friends can see me in the full glory of my bathing suit!!!), which makes it the perfect place to relax undisturbed for the day.  My husband keeps meaning to bring his fishing gear with him, since you actually can legally fish in the lake, and apparently it is stocked, but alas, he hasn’t managed the feat of carrying his beer and his fishing gear up the whole path.  For some unknown reason, beer keeps mysteriously winning out.  BTW…who brings BEER HIKING…another tangent, and one, I suppose, I’ll discuss at a later date, in a chair, paying some over-priced-look-at-me-I’m-perfect head shrink…not that that bothers me.

Anywho,  Heather Lake does have some elevation gain, but the lake makes it well worth the climb…I used to try to make it up there about twice a year, so this upcoming spring and summer I intend to follow up on that tradition.  I’ll have to look through old photos to see if I can dig up some of the lake. 

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Hmm, I would really like to go on a hike this weekend, but I don’t think it is going to happen.  I have been reading about some beautiful hikes in the Mt. Baker area – Heliotrope Ridge, Chain Lakes, Lake Ann, etc., and these places all lead, supposedly, to spectacular views of glaciers, lakes and Mt. Baker.  Maybe I can convince my husband to go hiking… 

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kartchner-caverns-kublakahna.jpgOk, so yeah, I have never been to the Kartchner Caverns, but I want to go…right now!!!  I read an article a while back (meaning over a year ago…)  in The Seattle Times, about these gorgeous and breath-taking caverns, barely touched by human beings (over 85% is said to have NEVER been touched – whereas most caverns have been virtually destroyed by people damaging and tampering with caves), located 50 miles from Tucson, Arizona.  

Of course, since I want to enjoy and experience with all my senses, and memorize all the glorious detail of these caverns for myself, I started talking about them, only to find out that my mother-in-law and one of my closest cousins had both visited this place…and went on to tell me how beautiful and stunning the caverns were and blah, blah, blah…  I simply could not take it, but at the same time, it was nice to have my over-exaggerated opinion of the Kartchner Caverns echoed by people who have actually seen them with their very own eyes!  Surely, I thanked them for the update, but where’s my adventure and firsthand experience?  Oh well, another place to add to the ol’ wishlist of places I will visit before I die…sounds romantic, huh?  Sheesh, sounds more like a wee bit of complaining…when in reality, let’s just come out and say it…I am  jealous!!! How I would love to be able to relate my personal adventure of the caverns…truly, truly wish I could!   

 Anywho, part of the reason I became so interested in the caverns is simply the story behind their discovery in 1974.  Apparently, two self-proclaimed cave hunters, looking for a specific cave on private land, came across a small crack in the side of some rocks, and feeling a warm breeze escaping, started digging their way inside.  Eventually, one of the men, was able to squeeze his way through and discovered the pristine main cavern.  At the time, they named the caves Xanadu, and continued to carefully explore them during the next two years, enjoying their secret discovery.  Finally, realizing that they truly wanted the caves to be protected, they approached the Kartchner family about the discovery, and in 1988 Kartchner Caverns was granted State Park status and protection by Arizona State.   The public can now view the caverns on a limited basis – I believe the park limits the number of visitors per day. 

I am continually amazed by the earth’s natural beauty and creations. 

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Ice CavesI love hiking…hope I can hike more soon!!! The last hike I went on was a few weeks ago when I explored the ice caves near Granite Falls, WA. My husband, and my two young sons, went along.  We felt that we could finally try to bring out kids along since the hike is fairly short – probably about a mile each way.  We had a blast! It was the first hike my children have ever completed with me. I was so proud of my kiddos! They had such a great time; my older son, Lucas, did not want to leave the ice. He eventually slipped and ended up with a mud-drenched bottom. Oh well, he didn’t seem to mind!

Well, it was a little more difficult getting to the ice caves this year than in years past due to some flooding over the last couple years.  You cautiously drive on Mountain Loop Hwy to an area that has been washed out, but now there is a gravelly and wood-covered one-lane road to cross this particular obstacle.  We managed to get to the well-maintained parking lot and started wandering along the trail with one child in our ever-so-helpful kiddie pack, and the other stumbling along the path.   We eventually came to a point where you have to cross a fallen log to get past the river, where previously there had been a wonderful wooden bridge.  I wasn’t sure if we should venture across, but we were encouraged by other hikers coming back that it is, in fact, safe.  I still was not comfortable crossing with my sons.  It ended up being a somewhat difficult process because my older son, Lucas, was not that sturdy on his feet, but in the end, he managed to cross with my help.

We had fun hiking through the wooded trail and seeing the little waterfalls along the way.  Eventually, we came to an open and somewhat treeless area and were presented with the view of the ice caves.  My children were so excited to see the ice caves!  Ok, maybe my husband and I were more excited, but we were definitely excited that we managed the hike with our children!  We sat down to a lunch of pb&js and enjoyed the view of the caves.

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