Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mt Rainier National Park from Sunrise Visitor's Center

Today we made breakfast at our campsite in Yakima, packed up and headed out for the national park. It took us a couple hours to get there and it was cloudy so wasn't the best for sight-seeing but we still had some good views. We decided to head to a part of the park called Sunrise to see if we could get above the clouds to see the mountain. When we got up there we saw a few peaks of the summit:

We went for a short hike on a trail near the visitor's center. There were tons of pretty mountain flowers blooming and we could see parts of the mountain but never the whole thing.

Grant starting out on the hike.

Emmons Glacier on Mt Rainier

At the top of the hike we did there was a little lookout area we stopped at for a snack and drink of water.

It was still a pretty view of the glaciers and base of the mountain even though we couldn't see the whole thing.

That's me - it was cold! About 40 degrees at the parking lot!

On the hike back up to the visitor's center we ran into a little fuzzy friend.
Black bear in Mt Rainier National Park (I guess the black bears here actually look more brown but they don't have any grizzlies in the park so it was for sure a black bear).

After scoping out that area of the park we drove back out towards Yakima over Chinook Pass into the national forest that borders it to find a spot to camp for the night.

Our little camping spot was right on a nice river so we took a little nap and played some cards before making supper.

After we were done eating and doing dishes we were thinking about heading to bed when a truck and horse trailer backed in to where we were camping. A guy and his dog got out and he yelled over to us 'water stop.' When they came back up from the river Grant asked him about his load of hay so he came over and visited for awhile. He was actually originally from Minnesota and now lives in Olympic, WA. We chatted for a bit and then he asked us if we wanted some cherries. He said he scored some from the place he just bought his truckload of hay from. We said sure and he came back with a 5 gallon bucket full ;) We filled up two little baggies and thanked him as he went on his way!

Grant enjoying his fresh Washington Yakima Valley cherries

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Driving to Yakima, WA

We left Glacier National Park this morning around 8am and said goodbye and thanks to Ed and Diane - we had a great time visiting! We took the Going-to-the-Sun road to check out the views over Logan Pass on our way (without a camera). Once we got to the other side of the park we stopped at Kalispell and bought ourselves a new camera. Then, it was farther south on hwy 93 along Flathead Lake to Elmo where we headed west on 28 to hit I-90. It was a beautiful drive along the lake and through part of Lolo National Forest.

Flathead River and Lolo National Forest

The scenery was very pretty as we drove across the panhandle of Idaho and through Coeur d'Alene, ID.

Once we got into Washington it was pretty desert-y with lots of wheat fields. As we got closer to our destination we drove across the Columbia River and it was SUPER windy but pretty cool!!

ANNND ... when we got close to Yakima ... we saw this!

That's Mt Rainier! Crazy how big it is!!

We went against our rules and found ourselves a campsite that we had to pay for at the Yakima State Park - but it was getting later and we just wanted to get camp set up and not have to search for a spot. It was a nice place ... despite the little black and white striped 'kitties' as my aunt would call them ;) yeah ... there were a ton of skunks at this place. Seriously ... the ranger dudes drove by at one point and one ran in front of them and they were like ... oh yeah keep your food put away cuz we have a lot of those guys. And then shortly after we saw another one run across the road! yikes! luckily none of them sprayed our stuff ... but there was one perched watching us as we got ready to go to bed ... I thought for sure he was going to spray us ;) It was a good day :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dawson - Pitamakin Pass Hike (aka killer marathon hike)

Our second day in Glacier, Grant wanted to attempt an 18 mile hike with an elevantion gain of 2,800ft he had heard about and Ed said was his favorite hike. We started out around 8am since it had taken Ed 12 hours to complete and we didn't want to be back too late. Our plan was to just start out and see how we felt and how far we could make it.

We left the campground on the North Shore trail going around Two Medicine lake. This is a creek on the other end of the lake.

We had a lot of energy at this point ;)

At an intersection on the trail - we're headed to No Name Lake, Dawson Pass and then Pitamakin Pass.

Cool views along the way.

Made it to No Name Lake!

Filtering water because there won't be another opportunity until the other side of both passes.

Once we left the lake the trail started to climb and do some long switchbacks.

These cute little ground squirrels crossed our path several times on the hike ;)

Holy buckets - it is a long ways up and we're not to the top yet - above the trees though now. That lake down there is Two Med where we started.

AH! We made it to the top of Dawson Pass FINALLY! Shortly before this I seriously thought I was going to die. It was very uphill and I kept thinking I saw where the trail went over the top but then when we'd get to that point it kept going. I almost cried ;)

Headed even farther up after Dawson Pass. Check out those sweet mountains in the background.

It was SUPER windy up there - thought we might blow over at some points.

Glacier park has some really pretty valleys.

So once we got to Dawson Pass we were told we'd have to go across a ridge line. Ok, when I picture a ridge line I imagine walking on top of something flat where you can see down both sides. Hm. When we got around a corner we saw this lovely trail ON THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN! I about cried again. It was like a 2,000ft angled steep slope on the side and we had to walk on a slippery rocky, not flat path. I pretty much crawled part of it ... lol ;)

We got to this part and I thought the traversing part of the trail was over but, oh no, we still had that whole section to do - see that little line across the left of that mountain - that's where we had to go.

Looking down from the point we were at in the last picture you could see this lake called Old Man Lake. That is eventually where we'd be going after we went around the mountain in that last picture. You can see the trail switchbacks on the side of this hill if you look closely.

More scary trail.

Looking back at the scary trail we just finished - it's that white line across that mountain - it was like 4 miles of it!!

And around the corner of the mountain we found this - more scary trail. GAH.

But the scenery was pretty spectacular despite the frightening trails ;)

Standing on Cut Bank Pass looking down at a couple lakes.

Looking down at our next destination - Pitamakin Pass (it's the level saddle part with the trail on top kinda between the mountains).


Old Man Lake from the top of Pitamakin Pass. We're standing on the part you could see from that other picture with the trail switchbacking down the side.

A little animal peeking over the top of a rock at us ;) We think it was a marmot.

Pretty mountain wildflowers along the trail. I feel like the pictures are all a bit deceiving - you should know that at this point we were both exhausted and needed to fill up our water bottles hopefully at the lake below. It was a seriously long hike.

It turned out the trail didn't go right to the lake and we weren't about to go any farther than needed so we filtered water a little ways from the lake at a stream the trail crossed. This view is down the valley we STILL have to walk - yeah - the entire thing all the way around that mountain on the right. I didn't think I'd make it. Both of our feet hurt SO BAD. We stopped and rested several times. All I was thinking is seriously that mountain is not getting any closer. It's still forever away and my feet were hurting and the trail was really rocky and not level so every step HURT.

When we actually did finally get to that end of the mountain I thought I'd be excited but then it felt like it took forever to get around the end. At one point - about a mile from the campground - my feet and knees were pretty much numb and I just wanted to GET THERE - so I started running. Ha! I really didn't even notice my feet hurting then and when I finally got to the campground I whipped off my shoes and ran into the water (well not exactly ran because there were rocks but went as fast as I could). When Grant got there he joined me. It was SO COLD but it felt SO GOOD and I was so glad to be back ;) Ed and Diane came looking for us because Ed had heard from some other hikers where they had met us so he thought he better walk up the trail and offer to carry our pack :) We headed back to their apartment for some spaghetti. It was about 7pm when we got back. It was a gorgeous hike but there were a few points where I thought I wasn't going to make it. Pretty cool to have done it though!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hike to Cobalt Lake from Two Medicine

We woke up to some awesome views of the mountains around Ed's apartment in Two Medicine!

After a few pictures and some breakfast we headed out to the trailhead to start our hike to Cobalt Lake.

View of Cinnapah (sp?) mountain from the porch of the little convenience store by the trailhead.

Pretty mountains along the trail.

Can you find Grant? It's a little dark to get the mountain to show up in the back ;)

Rockwell Falls

Attempting a timed pic with Ed's camera at Rockwell Falls.

Nice trail ...

Made it to the lake! It was about 95 degrees today so Grant decided to go for swim. Thing is ... see that snow over on the right?? Yeah ... the water was FREEZING! I put my feet in and that was all the farther I made it ;)

The hike was about 5.7 miles one way with an elevation gain of about 1,400 ft. We figured it would be a good warm-up for some crazy hike Grant had in mind for the following day. It was definitely pretty!

We even spotted some mountain goats up on the cliffs by the lake!

Checking out the goats ;) We hung out at the lake for quite awhile just relaxing.

Heading back down.

Pretty little creek.

See that lake way off in the distance? That's Two Medicine lake by Ed's where we started in the morning!

It turned out to be a really nice hike and when we got back Grant went swimming again in Two Medicine - I just put my feet in again cuz that water really wasn't much warmer ;) Then we had supper and went to listen to one of the park naturalist's talks. We didn't know what to expect but everyone said it was really good - they weren't lying - it was hilarious actually - if you're in Two Medicine and Pat is doing a talk you should go ;) heh heh. He's a funny guy. So, that was our first day in Glacier!
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