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Summer 2007 Grand Canyon-Zion-Lake Tahoe-Pacific Coast-Canada-Rocky Mountains monster trip

For my 2007 trip, I took a monster 7 week driving trip that included lots and lots of things. As always, the emphasis was on day hiking in beautiful places. I did a number of repeat hikes and a number of new hikes. The trip started with day visits to Grand Canyon south and Grand Canyon north. A couple of days at Lake Tahoe. And then over to the Pacific Coast (starting just north of San Francisco) and up the coast all the way to the Olympic Peninsula for a few weeks. Then a couple of days in Everett, WA visiting family. And then on to Canada for 2 days near Whistler, over to Mt Revelstoke for 1 day, and 1 day near Lake Louise. Then on to Glacier NP for a few days, 1 day in the Tetons, and a couple of days in Rocky Mountain NP before finally heading home. I had my laptop with me and gave trip updates every few of days for family and anyone interested. Since the trip is over, I've reordered the trip reports to be in chronological order.


Monday, July 16
The fun trip started off with a _long_ 17 hour drive from Dallas to
the Grand Canyon (South Rim).  It's a very uneventful drive, but 
I did add a little spice to it when I made a short stop for a bit 
of Americana from the old Route 66 (which parallels the interstate
for a good ways).  As I was driving along shortly past Amarillo 
(Texas), I noticed some cars were pulled off the road ahead and to
the left.  I then saw what they were stopped for - there were a 
string of 10 old cars half buried in a field (the middle of 
nowhere).  I had heard about it and couldn't resist taking the 
next exit and making a u-turn and taking a short 10 minute visit
to the cars.  From memory, back in the 50s or 60s an artist 
decided to half-bury the cars in the middle of his field for no 
particular reason and painted them.  They've been a number of 
different colors over the years and were graffitied (if that's a
word) at this time.  The rest of the drive was simply long.  I 
got to my campsite and was asleep a short time later.

Tuesday, July 17
So up for this day was a hike into the Grand Canyon.  I had been
considering doing the dumb down-and-up full hike in one day and 
logic kept saying that it was a bad idea - I went back and forth
on whether or not I'd do the full hike a number of times.  I woke
up nice and early to an overcast sky.  I was happy to see that 
the park's general shuttle service was already running (5:30 am)
and saved me a walk to the visitor's center, where I needed to 
pick up the shuttle that would take me to the South Kaibab 
trailhead.  Sunrise was at 5:30 am, but I didn't really miss 
much as the cloud cover was too heavy.  I still hadn't decided 
whether or not I was going to do the full hike, but was definitely
going to go to the Cedar Ridge point 1.5 miles into the trail 
(and 1,140 feet down).  I got drizzled on a little bit and the 
sun made some apparences and the views were dazzling as always
(this was my 3rd visit to the Canyon in the past 10 years, and 
yet I still took 40 pictures in one day).  I went out to the 
far point of the Cedar Ridge area and sat and enjoyed the views 
for a while and read my book a little bit.  The debate over 
whether or not to go all the way down (which also meant going 
all the way back up) was almost over as head logic was losing 
to heart logic - it is strongly, strongly recommended not to 
hike the Canyon in a day.  But heart logic was arguing that the
clouds would keep the tempature down, it was only 7 am and what 
would I do with the rest of my day, and I had hiked Mt Whitney 
in a day last summer which was longer and more elevation gained
(and head response of that being an up-and-down hike and I was
in better hiking shape at that point was being ignored).  So, 
yup, stupid me continued down, down, down.  At least I knew 
what I was getting into and was drinking plenty of water and 
taking long rests along the way.  Near the bottom, I knew I 
had made a mistake as I was already tired and the tempature 
had risen as the cloud cover thinned - but there was nothing 
else for me to do but continue down as I would need to 
replenish my water supply at the bottom and there were 3 
water stops on the way up the Bright Angel Trail (while the 
South Kaibab Trail had no available water).  While I was 
resting in the shade not too far from the bottom, I saw 2 
guys heading up.  One had his head down and zoomed passed 
while the other stopped to take advantage of the shade.  We 
talked for a little bit and I grew concerned about their 
situation - they were doing a down-and-up on the South Kaibab
Trail, hadn't been hiking recently, and only had less than 2 
bottles of water between them to get all the way back up.  I 
gave him some suggestions and insisted on refilling one of his
water bottles.  I talked with a ranger later on in the day and
he hadn't heard of any problems, so hopefully they made it out 
okay.  So I reached the Colorado River and took a long break 
soaking my feet, wetting my hat and then dumping it on my head,
and even soaked my shirt and got my body cooled down.  I then 
headed over to near the Bright Angel bridge (yes, Dad, I still
hate that bridge) and stopped at the restroom (and wondered 
why they had a handicap stall) and then found a nice spot in 
the shade and rested and ate a little bit (but not enough).  
I stayed there for about an hour.  I had planned on staying 
longer to get out of the hottest time of the day, but the 
clouds had returned and it was randomly sprinkling and bits 
of sun, and that cooled down the tempature a little bit.  So 
I hiked the 2 miles along the Colorado River to the foot of
the Bright Angel Canyon and took another hour rest at the 
shelter there.  I struggled mightily for the 3 miles to 
Indian Gardens and was in bad shape when I got there.  I had
nasua and laid down on a bench to rest and cool down - I 
wasn't about to continue until I felt better.  I talked to a
ranger and he said to go over to the creek and lay in it to 
get the body tempature down and that would help with the nasua
and then I needed to eat a lot as my sodium level was probably
low (that little thing I mentioned about not having eaten 
enough earlier in the hike - I knew that was a concern, but 
didn't force myself to eat more; don't think I'll let that 
happen again).  So I took an hour and a half break there and 
the nasua was gone.  I took it very slow going the rest of the
way (4.5 miles up) as I would stop about every 10 minutes and
take short breaks and then took longer breaks at the other 2 
water stops.  I talked with another ranger and his brother at
the 3 mile rest stop and he laughed with me saying we've all
done things while knowing what we were doing was stupid.  BUT
a little bit later I got my prize that probably no one below 
the rim got to see: there was a beautiful rainbow right next 
to white rock.  After my break at the 1.5 mile rest stop, the 
headlamp came out and the rest of the way was in the dark.  I
finally reached the rim at 9:15 pm.  So I can now say from 
experience that it is extremely stupid to try to hike the 
Canyon in one day.

Wednesday, July 18
Even though I hadn't set my alarm clock, I woke up around 5 am
and went ahead and got up and headed to the rim to watch the 
sunrise.  There were no clouds this morning and the view was
awesome.  Afterwards I returned to the car and drove, with a 
couple of canyon stops along the way - the plan for the morning
was the long 5 hour drive to the North Rim.  The campground 
for the North Rim was still full (I hadn't been able to get 
reservations), so it was still in question where I'd be staying
the night.  But I went ahead and visited the North Rim - no 
hiking (thank goodness, said my sore calves), just viewpoints.  
I took the long drive out to Cape Royal and saw Angels Window -
an eroded hole in the canyon wall - as well as walked to the 
viewpoint above the window.  Lots of pretty canyon views.  It
turned out that I only needed a few hours at the North Rim, so 
I headed on towards Zion National Park.  As I approached Utah, 
I saw billowing clouds from forest fires that seemed to be in 
the Zion area - and the clouds seemed to be heading towards 
the Bryce area.  As I was heading on the road towards Zion 
(Route 9), I could see that there were 2 seperate fires - a 
large one and a massive one.  Add to that the road construction
going on on Route 9 and my planned visit to Bryce got knocked 
off the trip.  In Zion, I moved my campground reservation from 
Thursday to this night and then stopped at the visitors center
to check on the fires and flash flood dangers for The Narrows 
(my planned hike for the next day).  The ranger said that the 
fires should not be a concern if I stayed in the main canyon 
area (and all back country permits were cancelled) and that, 
yes, the smoke would likely be covering Bryce.  I had some time
to kill (in hoping the temperature would cool down once the 
sunset) and took the shuttle ride through Zion and stopped at 
a couple of spots and then stopped at the lodge and found a 
nice spot in the air conditioned building and read for a while.

Thursday, July 19
I woke up early in the morning needing a bathroom break and was
concerned that I was now smelling smoke.  The wind had shifted
during the night and now the entire canyon was filled with 
smoke.  Once it got lighter, I could see how heavy the smoke 
was - the peaks that should have been visible above me were 
not visible.  My debate on whether to go ahead and do The 
Narrows hike or simply leave the park was rather short - I had
used up my stupidity alotment for this trip already and so it 
ended up being simply a driving day.  Before I left, I drove 
by the head of the main Zion canyon and the smoke was even 
heavier there than where the campground was.  [I had visited 
Zion and Bryce before, so it wasn't devistating that I skipped
my planned one day visits to each park.]  So it was a nice 
long 12 1/2 hour drive to Reno and next up tomorrow is Lake 
Tahoe (though it now means I'll be in Lake Tahoe on the weekend,
and I had been trying to avoid that).  I wonder how long it's 
going to take for my car to stop smelling like smoke.


pictures (6 pictures)

Friday, July 20
It was a beautiful sunny morning and it would stay nice all day.
I took the pretty drive from Reno to Lake Tahoe, going over a 
mountain pass through the forest (and pulling over a couple of 
times to let cars pass that weren't interested in the scenery).
The first views of Lake Tahoe driving down were impressive.  
I stopped at a short trail on the north side of the lake and 
walked the State Line Trail - a little 1/2 mile paved loop on 
a ridge above the lake.  The views were impressive.  I also 
learned from one of the nature signs that Mark Twain once started
a forest fire in the park.  Next up was the fun of finding a 
camping spot.  The campgrounds were pretty full, but I was able 
to find a spot at the 2nd location I looked.  I then headed 
over to the Eagles Falls area of the park, on the south west 
side of the lake, and lucked out again as someone was pulling 
out of a parking spot at the 2nd place I tried to find a spot.
So about 1 pm, I kicked off a nice hike into the Sierra Nevada 
Mountains to Eagle Lake and Velma Lakes.  Eagle Lake was 
absolutely beautiful.  The only problem was that it was only a 
mile from the parking area and even with the elevation gained it 
was a popular spot.  There were even some kids who had swam all 
the way out to the small island near the far end of the lake.  I 
did stay for a little while and enjoyed the views, despite the 
human noise (the problem was that one group was very loud).  I 
then headed up, up, and up and there were some great views down 
on Eagle Lake.  I continued onward and upward and eventually 
realized that I wouldn't have the time or energy to reach the 
Velma Lakes, but I did want to see them, so I continued on until 
I (finally) got a view of them.  They weren't that impressive 
looking from a distance and I wasn't disappointed to turnaround.
I took the branch back for Granite Lake (and the trail then went 
up again).  After a long ways, I was rewarded with a great view 
of Eagle Lake from above.  And a short bit later was a great 
view of Lake Tahoe.  And then for the next mile I had views of 
Lake Tahoe and the smaller Granite Lake and another lake as the 
trail switchbacked down.  The sun was going behind the mountains
(still plenty of light), so I didn't stay very long at Granite 
Lake.  Then an uneventful and fast mile back to the road - 
though there was one pretty viewpoint of Emerald Bay (a portion 
of Lake Tahoe).  After a 1/2 mile walk along the road, I finally 
reached my car (in a nearly empty parking lot) at 7:45.

Saturday, July 21
It was another beautiful sunny day at Lake Tahoe.  Up first was 
a trip out to DL Bliss State Park.  I found a nice bench with a 
view over Lake Tahoe and spent a while there typing in Friday's 
report and waiting for 8:30 am to arrive - I was hoping to get a
campsite in the park if there were any cancelations overnight.
I needed to get a campsite settled for the night (remember, this 
was a Saturday at the popular Lake Tahoe) before I could start 
my day.  My early arrival paid off as I got the only campsite 
available for this day.  I then went back to the spot near where 
the bench was and started the Rubicon Trail hike.  First up was 
a side trip to the old lighthouse - it was a waste of time and 
energy (it was up hill all the way to the lighthouse) as it was 
little more than a shack.  But the Rubicon Trail was wonderful, 
though not easy.  The trail goes next to and (sometimes high) 
above Lake Tahoe with great views of the lake.  I hiked 4.6 
miles of the trail all the way over to the bottom of Emerald 
Bay, with it's beach shore (Vikingsholm).  Vikingsholm is 
actually an old residence that was built in the 20s or 30s and 
is still there and now run by the State Park.  I didn't do the 
tour (not my thing), but did take a picture, as well as many 
pictures of Emerald Bay.  I didn't go swimming, but did feet 
soak and rested for a while at the beach.  On the way back, I
also stopped at a small cove with a tiny beach and feet soaked
and rested there as well.  Since I didn't get done with the 
hike until 4:30 pm, I didn't do much the rest of the evening.
I took a quick visit to Balancing Rock in the park - it's what
the name implies: a rock that's base has been erode so that it
looks like a rock sitting on top of a rock.  I then went over 
to the day-use area for Sugar Pine Point State Park and took 
a short walk around the buildings of an estate from the 20s
(now also run by the State Park).  Tomorrow I plan on starting 
the day with a re-visit to Eagle Lake.  Then do a hike in 
north Lake Tahoe.  And then on to Donner Park where I'll stay 
the night.  And then a hike in the Sierras the next day 
before heading onto the Pacific Coast (since I won't be 
online tomorrow).


pictures (6 pictures)

Sunday, July 22
So I made the mistake of starting the morning with a hike back 
up to Eagle Lake.  I was the first to arrive and the lake was 
just stunning as it was as still as could be with a great 
reflection on the surface.  I found a spot lakeside and soaked 
my feet, just sitting there and not doing anything else but 
enjoying the sounds of birds chirping, chipmucks chittering, 
and the waterfall in the distance and marveling at the fantastic
view.  Okay, so why was that a mistake?  It made everything else
I did that day pale mightily by comparison.  Next up was a hike 
north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierras (no Tahoe view) on a trail 
to the Five Lakes.  It was a huff-and-puff 2 miles of hiking up
with little shade in a developed valley (ski area), so the views
weren't great.  Then over a half a mile to not that exciting of 
a lake - though it looks great in the pictures (again, wondering
how much Eagle Lake influenced my opinion).  I was trying to 
find the other 4 lakes in the area (thus the name Five Lakes), 
but accidently ended up on the Pacific Crest Trail before 
turning around.  I did find 3 other lakes, but they also were 
unimpressive.  I then headed over to the Donner Pass area (in 
the Sierras off of I80), where I got a campground spot for the
night.  There was one more hike on tap for the afternoon as I 
headed for Summit Lake near the pass itself.  The hike was 
pretty, even though there was road noise from I80, but the lake
wasn't exciting (even less so than the Five Lakes).  Part of 
the trail was on the Pacific Crest Trail, so that made twice in
one day that I hiked part of the PCT, which runs from southern
California to northern Washington.

Monday, July 23
The plan for the entire morning was a hike to the Loch Leven 
Lakes in the Sierra Nevadas, with the hike again kicking off 
near I80.  It was a lot of up (and up) for the first hour.  I 
couldn't resist putting some pennies on the railroad tracks as
the trail crossed them - something I had done when I was young 
in day camp.  I continued up and then over (and lost the road 
noise) and reached the first of the 3 lakes and was very 
impressed.  The lakes are bowls of granite mounds (the mounds 
are tall, but not mountain-sized).  I continued on to the 
middle lake and was more impressed - it is the largest of the 3
and has a number of small islands in the middle.  A mile 
further was the highest lake, and I fell in love.  It was a 
precious little lake with a small island in the middle and a 
family of ducks swimming in it.  I relaxed and enjoyed each 
lake (taking long stops on the way back) and feet soak.  All 3 
lakes are populuar swimming holes and there were people 
swimming in the lakes at each one on the way back (at the 
highest lake, they arrived about 20 minutes after I did).  On 
the way back down, I stopped at the railroad tracks and found 
most of my smashed pennies.  The rest of the day was spent 
driving towards San Francisco and then heading north on 
Highway 1 and finally finding a spot to stay the night near 
Point Reyes National Seashore.

Tuesday, July 24
I had planned on spending the entire day at Point Reyes, but 
the fog was so heavy that I made a sidetrip later in the 
morning, hoping the fog would lift some.  First I started my 
day with a walk along the shore barefoot in the surf - one of 
my favorite things, but I didn't last long was it was pretty 
cold (both the water and a strong wind).  I then headed over 
to Samuel P Taylor State Park, a redwood park about 5 miles 
inland and did a little 2 mile hike there.  It was a nice 
little diversion, but not that exciting of a redwood park as 
most of the trees are smaller 2nd growth trees, not old growth
(original).  I then went back to Point Reyes and hiked to a 
couple of beach.  The first one went down a short canyon lined
with a variety of wild flowers to a beach with some sea rocks 
(rock mounds in the water) and I walked the surf for a while 
(barefoot, of course).  The second one went next to a marsh 
area where there were lots of chirping birds, including a 
number of yellow ones and flocks of black ones with red bands, 
and did some more shore walking in the surf.  The sky remained 
overcast, but the fog had lifted some, so there were some nice
distance views, but nothing stunning.  I then headed over to
the Point Reyes Lighthouse and took a very windy and cool walk
to an overlook of the lighthouse (the steps down to the 
lighthouse were closed due to the wind).  And then drove over
to another viewpoint with 3 hiking/walking options.  I walked
over to the elephant seal viewpoint, but there were no seals 
to be seen.  I then walked down to the old lifeboat rescue 
station that was very active in the 20s and 30s.  And back at
the starting spot, I hiked up to the Chiminey Rocks headland
and around it with great views of the rocky shore below with a 
number of sea rocks.  It was a little nerve wracking at times
as the trail went near the cliffs and it was still very windy.
And now I'm doing my first load of laundry for the trip - with
many more to come.


pictures (5 pictures)

First a little thought I that I was wondering about from the 
drive on I80 in the Sierra Nevadas.  Along the way there were
a couple of runaway truck ramps (long gravel pits designed to
stop semi-trucks whose breaks have failed).  In the middle of
them were signs saying "No Stopping".  I thought that was the 
whole point.

Wednesday, July 25
I went ahead and drove up the coast to Salt Point State Park 
and got a campsite for 2 nights.  I then drove back down to 
Bodega Bay and spent the day working my way back to Salt Point.
The fog cover remained for most of the day, sometimes lighter 
and some times heavy.  I did a little hike at the headlands for
Bodega Head and had some nice views of the sea rocks when the 
fog wasn't too thick.  I also took a side trip to a small 
beach that wasn't that exciting.  I continued up the Sonoma 
Coast and made a couple of short stops to small coves and 
overlooks along the way.  A little south of the town of Jenner,
I stopped at Shell Beach and took a 4.5 mile walk along the 
headlands in the fog (some nice views of the many sea rocks, 
but also lots of no views due to fog or the trail being too far
from the shore).  I then went down to Shell Beach itself and 
walked the shore for a little bit and read some (I broke out a 
book during the hike, the first time I'd read a book since 
Reno).  At the top of the Sonoma Coast (which extends from 
Bodega Bay to just north of Jenner), the skies had cleared some
and I stopped at a vista view point and took a short walk to a 
great view down the coast (at least to where the cloud cover 
started) - so a 4 pm I finally saw the sun.  I stopped at Fort 
Ross, just south of Salt Point and walked around the area and 
looked at the buildings.  It had been built by the Russian 
American Company as a supply station for their endeavors in 
Alaska in the mid-1800s.  I was going to do a hike at Salt 
Point, but it was far too windy so I simply headed to my 

Thursday, July 26
So I started this day by driving north to Fort Bragg (with a 
side trip to Hendy Woods) with the intent on working my way 
back down to Salt Point.  I made the side trip to Hendy Woods
State Park, an inland redwoods park, as I wanted to visit it 
and hoped the sun would finally appear on the coast later in 
the morning.  It was a very pretty park with a large old 
growth grove that I walked through for about 2 miles.  I also
went to the smaller grove, but was less impressed with that 
hike (the first was entirely within the redwoods and the 2nd 
was a hike through thin woods to get to the small loop through
the redwoods).  On the drive back on Hwy 128, I had a little 
wait in Navarro Redwood State Park (though a 2nd growth park, 
a pretty drive).  As the traffic was let through, I saw that 
they were filming a movie or TV show at a section of the road
(no idea what movie or show).  Back on Hwy 1, just north of 
Mendocino, I stopped at Russian Gulch State Park and took a
brief visit to the beach and then headed to the headlands of 
the park and did a pretty walk there, including around an 
inland blowhole.  The sun was out and I had thought it would 
remain the rest of the day (wrong).  I went up Fort Bragg 
thinking I'd have lunch at the good pizza place there, but it
was open only for dinner.  So heading back down (and the sun 
was gone), I stopped at Jug Handle State Reserve (just south 
of Fort Bragg) and did a very pretty hike of the headlands 
there and then took a side trip down to a precious little 
beach that was just perfect for surf walking and I had it to 
myself.  I drove the scenic Mendocino Head and then continued 
driving down Hwy 1.  North of the town of Elk, I saw a pretty 
coastal view of a ton of large sea rocks.  I stopped at the 
turn off for Greenwood State Beach in Elk and was quite 
thrilled when I saw not one, not two, but three sea arches 
off the coast (though I didn't walk down to the beach).  
Continuing on, I went over the Schooner Gulch bridge and it 
sparked a memory - didn't I have something noted about there?
Sure enough, 2 short trails to 2 beaches.  So I turned around 
and took the short walk down to Schooner Gulch Beach - a great
little spot to surf walk and enjoy the coastal scenery.  I 
also went out to Bowling Ball Beach, but was less impress and 
didn't last long - it was a very long beach and the wind was 
blowing sand every where.  I returned to Salt Point (and the 
sun was back) and finally did the 2.4 mile Salt Point Trail 
that goes along the coast with a number of rock mounds along 
the way that must be conquered.  I also walked down to a couple 
of tidal pools and watched the sea life.  There was a shy crab 
trying to catch some hermit crabs for dinner, but whenever 
I slightly moved, the crab would skitter back under a rock.

Friday, July 27
I finished driving up Hwy 1 in the morning (in the heavy fog)
and joined up with Hwy 101.  I got a campsite in Humboldt 
Redwood State Park and then went back down to Richardson Grove
State Park and did a short walk there (both Humboldt and 
Richardson are old growth areas).  I then headed out to Shelter
Cove where I wanted to do a 3 mile up (and back) hike up Chemise
Mountain with a view of the isolated Lost Coast (a large section
of the California coast that is not developed).  So I huffed and
puffed my way up and took a left at the overlook junction and 
got to the top and saw ... a great view of the inland valley to 
the east.  Okay, not what I was looking for.  So I continued on 
the trail a little bit (and heading down slightly) and then saw 
a spot where it looked like I could see west.  So I took the five 
steps off trail and looked out at ... a blanket of clouds.  So 
much for my great coastal view.  So after getting back down to 
the car, I drove into Shelter Cove itself and stopped at the 
Mendocino Lighthouse (it was relocated in the 1990s and is not in 
service) and then walked down to the rocky shore and thought I'd 
look at the tidal pools.  But I didn't see much action, so I went 
ahead and went to the nearby Black Sands Beach (really should be 
called Black Pebble Beach as there isn't much sand) and conquered
the rock mound on the beach and then walked the beach for a little 
bit (with my shoes on).  So I headed back to Hwy 101 and then 
took the Avenue of the Giants drive through the redwoods in 
Humboldt back to the campground (halfway through the drive), 
taking one stop along the way to do a little 1/2 mile hike in a
grove.  The campground had an evening program that was very 
entertaining as the ranger got the crowd involved and talked 
about bats.

Saturday, July 28
I started the morning continuing the Avenue of the Giants drive.
I made a stop early on and was going to do a short hike, but 
found that the trail was close.  That was the bad news.  The good
news was that the spot had a good trail map of the park and I was 
able to figure out a good longer hike through the redwoods.  First
up, though, was a walk through the great Founders Grove loop and 
adjacent Mahan Plaque loop.  It's sad to know that only about 4%
of the old growth redwoods (trees at least 500 years old, some 
older than 1,000 years) survived the massive logging that occurred
in the early 1900s; the logging was somewhat sparked by the need 
to rebuild San Francisco.  I did another 1/2 mile loop in the area
(making my total for the morning 2.5 miles) and then headed over
to the Tall Tree area.  There I did a long 8 mile hike, with 
another 1/2 mile loop through a grove at the halfway point.  The 
first half of the hike was really pretty and was mostly in the 
redwoods while the last half of the hike was only partially in 
the redwoods (if I knew that I would have gone back the way I 
came).  And that was supposed to be a mild day.  I finished up 
the Avenue of the Giants drive (with no further stops) and 
continued on to Eureka.  I stopped and got a needed oil change for
my car.  I decided not to bother with campsites for a busy 
Saturday night (with California State Parks almost purely booked 
on Saturdays due to their annoying advanced reservation system) 
and splurged at got a hotel room in Acata.  Tomorrow should start
out with a yummy crab omlette and then on to Fern Canyon, my 
favorite place on earth.


pictures (7 pictures)

Sunday, July 29
Unfortunately crab was not available, so I had to settle for a
shrimp omelete.  Afterwards, I went over to the pretty 
Trinidad beach and walked the surf there for a bit.  Then it 
was over to Patrick Point State Park where I got a campsite
for 2 nights.  That bit of business taken care of, I went to 
Fern Canyon, my favorite place on earth.  It's a narrow canyon
with a little stream going down the middle and the 30 foot 
walls of the canyon are covered with ferns.  Just beautiful.
There was more debris in the canyon than usual due to the 
rough winter they had.  I should have taken that as a warning,
but didn't.  I planned on combining 2 trails in the redwoods 
and beach walk to make a 8 mile loop - a wonderful hike that 
I've done before.  So I headed up Friendship Ridge and found a 
number of downed trees along the way that I had to go over, 
around, or under (limbo with the redwoods).  It didn't seem 
that annoying until after about the 5th blockage.  And it kept 
occurring.  I reached the junction with West Ridge and headed 
along it and encountered more down trees, including one that 
was really tough to get around.  Needless to say, it wasn't 
the pleasant hike that it was the last time.  I finally reached
the junction with the coastal trail and saw a note on the sign
for the West Ridge Trail saying both that trail and the 
Friendship Ridge Trail were not recommended for hiking as there
were lots of down trees and the trails would not be cleared 
until the fall or winter - thanks for the warning.  But the 
last 2 1/2 miles was a nice walk along the surf (barefoot, of
course).  Thanks to all of the downed trees, the hike took a 
lot longer than I expected.  I revisited Fern Canyon before 
heading to my campsite.

Monday, July 30
I was up early (5:15) for a 2 hour drive inland to the Trinity
Alps and a planned full day hike to the Canyon Creek Lakes.  I
was a little concerned about the weather as the nearby town of
Weaverville was expected to have a high of 95 degrees.  But the
morning was nice and cool (I even considered bringing my jacket
but knew I wouldn't need it after an hour and it would just be 
dead weight for the rest of the long day).  The hike is a 16 
mile (8 miles up and back), 2600 feet gained trek that goes 
passed 4 waterfalls and reaches 2 pretty mountain lakes.  The
first 4 miles are pretty uneventful and seem to take forever,
but from that point on there are great sights every mile or 
less (though often a tough up between them).  It was a 
beautiful clear sky and I was definitely glad I made the 
sidetrip to revisit this hike.  I only encountered a handful of 
people on the way up (and they were on the way down).  The 
lower lake was as pretty as I remembered it and I spent a 
little time there before heading to the upper lake.  The upper 
lake is a little larger and has a shear granite face for a 
boundary for half of the far side.  With the tall Wedding Cake 
and Thompsons Peak (the largest in the Trinity Alps) mountains
looming above, both lakes are in beautiful settings.  I feet 
soaked and read for a bit at the upper lake, which I had all 
to myself, before returning to the lower lake (which I 
actually like a little better as I'm partial to smaller lakes).
I talked a little bit with the 2 young ladies who were camping 
there and they then headed to the upper lake and I feet soaked 
for a little bit in solitude before making the long trek back 
down.  I stopped for a longer rest at the middle falls, my 
favorite of the 4.  For the rest of the way out, the heat had 
set in and it was a very hot hike down - the car said it was 
89 degrees when I reached it at 6 pm.  Again I had only 
encountered a handful of people while heading down (they were 
heading up) until the lower falls and below where I encountered
a lot of people (over 25) that finally showed a bit of why the 
books say that this is a crowded hike.  It's also one of those 
long hikes that have you saying, "Cars! I see cars!" at the end 
and wanting to run up to your car and give it a big hug.  
Including all the rests and long breaks at the falls and lakes, 
the hike took 10 hours.

Tuesday, July 31
Well, they still didn't have crab (sigh), so I had another 
shrimp omelete and then headed over to the Trinidad beach to 
walk the surf.  It was low tide, so I was able to walk the 
entire length of the beach (there are rocks at the far end 
that make a section of it inaccessible at higher tides).  I 
then returned to Patrick Point and visited a view point there.
As usual, it was overcast in the morning and so the views 
weren't as good as they would be later in the day.  I then 
headed up the coast a little bit and stopped at Lady Bird 
Johnson's Grove and took the little mile walk through the 
redwoods.  I set up camp at Prairie Creek Redwood State Park
(also part of Redwood National Park, which consists of 3 
state parks) and then headed back to Fern Canyon.  It was a 
planned mild day, so I simply sat at my favorite spot in the
canyon and read for a while and then headed over to the beach
and walked the surf for a tiny bit and then sat and read some
more and then back to Fern Canyon (the beach and the canyon 
are close to each other) for a last visit and read a little 
more.  I then took the scenic drive through Prairie Creek 
(similar to Avenue of the Giants drive, but shorter) and 
stopped at Big Tree (a big redwood).  After doing the short 
loop there, which started and ended at the tree, I realized 
that the big wood section in front of the tree wasn't there 
the last time I visited and realized that was where the large
wooden sign announcing the tree and its dimensions used to
be.  I walked around the slab and, sure enough, I saw bits 
of posts and wood from the pulverized sign.  I then drove on 
a little ways u[ Hwy 101 and took the mile hike out to 
another one of my favorite places - Hidden Beach.  It's a 
pretty little hike above the coast that ends at a small beach 
with a tall rock mound just off shore with a couple of trees 
at the top.  Such a peaceful and precious setting.  I stayed 
there for a while.  My day was capped by a stunning sunset at 
Klamath Overlook, above the ocean (the sky had been clear most
of the day, including in the late afternoon (a rarity) - it 
was only my 2nd sunset of the trip so far).


pictures (8 pictures)

Wednesday, August 1
I was going to do a 3.5 mile loop in the redwoods to start my
day, but less than 1/4 a mile into the hike was a downed tree 
and I quickly turned around (I couldn't have gotten passed it 
even if I wanted to).  I then did a short uneventful 
interpretive trail that was once a logging roading.  I 
returned to Hidden Beach and once again enjoyed its splendor
and peacefulness before saying goodbye until another year.  
Then it was on north to Crescent City and I got a campsite in 
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  After promising my car 
no more gravel roads (which the long road to Fern Canyon is), 
it turned out I lied as I took the unpaved Howland Hill Road 
in Jedediah to 2 trailheads.  The first was a short 1/2 mile 
loop through Stout Grove.  Then I hiked the about 7 mile (there
and back) trail through the redwoods to the Boy Scout Tree, 
one of the largest in the park.  Although a redwood trail, it
wasn't an easy hike as there were lots of small ups and downs
along the way, but it was a pretty hike amongst the old growths.
Afterwards, I headed in to town and did a little bit of grocery 
shopping, called Mom, and had dinner at McDonalds before heading 
back to my campsite.

Thursday, August 2
I started the morning walking 3 short redwood loops in Jedediah
before heading north and saying so long to California as I 
crossed the border into Oregon.  I had planned on spending 
several hours in Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, a 
10 mile section of coast along Hwy 101 with a number of beaches,
coves, scenic overlooks, and trails along the way.  It was still
a heavy overcast as I hit the first spot at Lone Ranch Beach.  
I walked the entire beach (barefoot, of course) and added to my 
rock collection (somebody stop me - I can't help but pick up 
pretty rocks).  I found a nice spot at the end of the beach 
and sat and read some, hoping the fog would lift.  The sun 
briefly made an appearance, but it stayed overcast.  I walked 
the beach back (and only picked up 2 more rocks) and continued 
on to 2 more viewpoints.  At the House Rock Viewpoint I could 
see that the area to the south was still overcast, but that the 
sun was out to the north.  So I headed over to the Whaleshead 
Beach Viewpoint and took the narrow, steep trail down to the 
beach.  Once I reached one end of the beach, I saw that I didn't
need to have taken that trail down as there was a beach access 
parking lot 1/2 mile ahead on the road - oh well.  I also walked 
the entire length of the beach (a much longer beach, but still 
not tourist area size).  Midway through, I realized that I was 
spending a lot of time in the park (and really enjoying myself) 
and that I had best get a campsite at the nearby Harris Beach 
instead of a lot further north, like I had planned (see, that's 
why I don't have reservations on this trip).  So after finishing 
with Whaleshead Beach and taking the hard hike out, I went and 
got a campsite and then continued back to the Boardman area.  I 
stopped at the Indian Sands Viewpoint and it turned out that I 
had to do some hiking to get to the scenic area.  It was a sharp
down that had my calves complaining on the way up, but there 
were some magnificent isolated coastal views as well as distant 
coastal views.  Even though the area was above sea cliffs, there
were sand dunes that I had to traverse over and I felt like a
camel at times.  Then on to 3 more overlooks, including one 
really pretty one of a cove with large sea rocks in front of it 
that contained 2 sea arches.  I then found the small parking area
for the trailhead down to Secret Beach.  It was again a sharp down
that ended at a rock mound that I made my way carefully down and 
I was then at a small beach with a number of large round mounds in
the ocean and a small waterfall at the near end.  I spent some 
time there.  Since the clouds were only in the distance (preparing 
to roll in during the night, I figure), I headed north a short ways 
to 2 more places I had on my to do list - they weren't very 
exciting and I didn't even get out of the car.  I made a couple of 
quick stops in Boardman at some places that were cloudy earlier in 
the day and then headed to my campsite.  I made it a little bit of
an early evening as the campground has laundry facilities and I 
decided to do a load (didn't need to, but you never know when 
you'll have an opportunity to do a load and you might be busy 
then).  Plus it gave me an opportunity to recharge my computer 
battery - something I've been having trouble figuring out where to
do (you don't think much about electrical outlets until you are on
the road and they are hard to come by).


pictures (5 pictures)

Friday, August 3
I started the morning by walking the pretty Harris Beach.  It
was overcast in the area, but a high cloud base and not foggy
so I was able to see things.  I headed on north to Humbug 
Mountain and got a pretty (and cheap - only $14 and included 
showers) campsite in the state park.  Then I headed up, up, 
up in hiking to the top of the mountain - 3 miles to the top 
and about 1740 feet gained.  It's the tallest peak on the 
Oregon coast, but the hike didn't have the many wonderful 
coastal views that I was hoping for.  There were a couple of 
good views of the north coast, but most of the hike was in the
trees (pretty, but not what I was expecting).  I went to Port
Orford Heads State Park and looked at the buildings of the old 
life rescue station there and then took a walk out to the tip
of the head.  Here were the wonderful coastal views that I 
was hoping for earlier.  In addition, I had my pleasant 
surprise of the day.  I saw a couple looking out to sea and 
pointing at something.  I then saw a brief streak of black in
the sea and it disappeared.  I saw it again and then again 
and realized it was a grey whale.  I was surprised as it is 
not migration season, but later found out that there are a 
few whales that hang out off the Oregon coast during the 
summer.  I walked a little more around the pretty area.  I 
saw the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, but wasn't impressed with 
that area and returned to Humbug Mountain and headed out to
the nearby beach where I spent about an hour and a half 
finishing up a good book and then watching the sunset over 
the ocean - always a good way to end the day.

Saturday, August 4
I reached the Face Rock coastal area near the tourist town 
of Brandon and stopped at the overlook to look at the huge
coast rock mounds and then headed down to the beach to 
walk around and get close up looks at the rock mounds (it 
was low tide) for a bit.  Back up above, I drove a short 
ways ahead and stopped at an overlook that had a paved path
with bird notes on plaques as it was a good bird watching
area for those birds that nested and rested on the large 
of shore rock mounds.  They mentioned puffins (my mom's 
favorite sea bird), but I didn't see any.  I continued on 
north and hit the Cape Arago area, driving out to the end 
of the road and then heading back with a few stops along 
the way.  I looked around the tip of the Cape Arago area 
and then went to a spot where there were a number of people
looking out to sea.  So I looked out to sea too and 
eventually I saw a water spout in the distance.  After 
about a minute, I saw it again and, for the 2nd day in a 
row, I had another whale sighting.  He was mostly staying 
under the water and spouting water every minute or so (and 
then a longer about 5 minute break indicating a large dive), 
but I did see a couple of black streaks.  It takes a lot of 
patience to whale watch as they do spend most of their time
submerged.  A little further north on the road is a seal and
sea lion watching spot.  I stopped there and watched with 
binoculars the many animals resting and playing on the small 
island off the shore.  I took a picture of the Cape Arago
Lighthouse from across the way and then headed down to the
small beach at Sunset Bay State Park.  I had some good luck
on my drive through Coos Bay heading back towards Hwy 101 as
I came across both a Dominoes Pizza place and a Walmart 
Supercenter and was able to get some needed supplies.  I 
briefly stopped at the Umpqua Lighthouse to snap a picture
and could hear the many ATVs roaring through the nearby 
Oregon Sand Dunes - apparently there was some sort of 
festival going on that day.  Being that I'm not a fan of 
sand dunes, I left them to the dune buggies and ATVs and
continued my drive north.  I set up camp in the Carl G. 
Washburn Memorial campground (getting the last available 
spot (and the campground doesn't take reservations)) and 
then went to the nearby Heceta Head Lighthouse area.  I 
walked up to the lighthouse and then up the trail to an 
overlook spot above and then on down the trail to an 
overlook spot below.  And then on down to the beach for a 
short surf walk.  I went to the Neptune Wayside area and 
walked on the coastal rocks for a short bit and headed a 
mile further north and spent a bit of time at the Cape 
Perpetua area.  It was near high tide and the sea was a 
little rough so I got to see lots of water spouting from 
the blow hole (a hole in the rocks) and the churning of 
the water through the Devils Churn (a narrow fissure in 
the rocks that goes a long way) as I walked on the coastal
rocks of the shore.  I did one more thing on my "to do" 
list - Yachats Ocean Drive - but it was pretty blah, so I 
headed back to my campsite.  I went out to the nearby 
beach at about 8 pm to wait and watch the sunset (the
water was way too cold for more than just a brief foot 
dipping and the wind was blowing the sand around, so I 
stayed near the top of the beach).  There was a bank of 
clouds low on the horizon, so the sun actually set behind
the clouds and it wasn't as spectacular.

Sunday, August 5
On the way heading north, I made a brief stop at the 
Strawberry Hill Wayside and saw some seals resting on the 
rocks.  I stopped at Seal Rock (no seals, but plenty of 
birds) and did a short beach walk while looking at the 
birds and rock formations.  I made the picture-taking stop
at the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, which was only in service 
for 4 years as the Yaquina Head Lighthouse was built just 
8 miles up the coast.  So guess where my next stop was.  
The Yaquina Head Lighthouse is a pretty one, all alone 
on the head with a tall tower on which the lens sits.  
Also in that park, I walked down to a cove where I was 
expecting to look at some tide pools, but the beach area
was closed.  Which was a good thing as the reason it was
closed was that there were 3 seals resting on a rock in 
the cove and a young, white seal pup - I spent a little 
bit of time just watching them sleep (though the pup 
looked like he wanted to do something, but the adults 
would have nothing of it).  I made short visits to the 
Devils Punchbowl (old sea cave with a collapse roof), 
Cape Foulweather (ocean views), and Fogerty Creek (blah 
pebble beach) and continued heading north.  I headed 
directly to Cape Lookout and got a campsite and then 
continued on to Tillamook.  I was ready for a break from 
scenic views (it has been 3 weeks) and made a stop at 
the Tillamook Cheese Factory and Creamery and had a mint
chocolate chip and french silk sundae (wasn't as good as
the Giradilli (sp?) sundae that I missed out on by not 
making a side trip into San Francisco, but it was still 
a sundae).  Refreshed, I went back to the coast and 
visited the Cape Meares Lighthouse and made the short 
walk to the Octopus Tree (a Sitka Spure that has 6 full
sized tree branches near the trunk).  I stopped at 
Oceanside Beach and walked the surf along that pretty 
beach.  Off shore from all 3 areas is the Three Arch 
Rocks National Reserve, a nesting area for tuffed 
puffins, but, alas, I still didn't see any puffins (it's 
not nesting season).  I returned to Cape Lookout and 
make a quick hike of the 2.5 mile trail out to the tip
of the head - the views were nice (even with the heavy 
cloud cover), but not outstanding as it simply isn't 
that stunning of a coastal area.  I made a brief visit
to the beach near my campsite and then called it a day.


pictures (11 pictures)

Monday, August 6
I started the cloudy morning off with a walk on the beach at 
Cape Lookout.  I then headed down the coast and stopped for a 
short bit at Cape Kiwanda.  I rejoined Hwy 101 and headed 
north again.  I had hoped on doing a mountain hike this day, 
but the low cloud cover was hindering that.  I found a wifi 
spot in Tillamook and got online for a bit hoping the clouds 
would lift (they never did).  I did stop and get some bing 
cherries, so the day did have a bright spot.  I headed over 
to the Nehalem Bay campground looking for a spot in the only 
campground in the area and was told I needed to come back at 
2 pm.  So I went to the beach in the park and killed an hour 
and a half walking the beach and reading.  I got my spot and 
then went to Oswald State Park and did a 3 mile hike out to 
the overlook at the cape and then went down to the pretty 
beach and surf walked there and read some while others surf
boarded.  After hiking out from that beach, I stopped and 
surf walked at the pretty Hug Point and Arcadia beaches.  If 
you think I'm crazy with this 7 week trip, I talked with 
someone who is doing something even wilder.  He started in 
Alaska on June 21 and made a side trip to the Canadian 
Rockies before returning to British Columbia and is heading 
south to just over the California border - all this on his 
bike (as in bicycle, not motorcycle).  I was impressed.

Tuesday, August 7
I started the morning off with re-visits to Hug Point and 
Arcadia beaches and walked them in the overcast and cool 
morning.  I then headed over to Ecola State Park, where I 
would spend most of my day.  I went out to the viewpoint 
for Seal Rocks, where there were lots of birds, and I 
actually saw a puffin swimming in the ocean - no picture
as I needed the telescope to see it.  I then hiked the 1.5
mile trail from the picnic area down to Indian Beach, with 
some nice ocean views along the way including of the 
Tillamook Lighthouse, which is on an isolated island.  I 
continued on the Clatsop Trail loop for 3 more miles [Dad,
this is the trail you and I did while Mom waited at the 
beach area].  There were a number of interpretive plaques 
along the way as it was a route that the Lewis and Clark 
group took to reach Cannon Beach to get food and blubber 
from a beached whale.  The viewpoint at the top of the 
loop was just of clouds instead of a pretty view of the 
lighthouse.  I went back to Indian Beach and walked the 
length of the beach in the mist and then hiked back to my 
car.  I then headed up to the tip of the Oregon coast and 
got a campsite at Fort Stevens State Park (a military base 
from the civil war to the end of World War II).  I went 
over to Fort Clatsop and visited the reconstructed small 
fort that Lewis and Clark built for the 3 months they spent
near the coast in the winter of 1806.  Back at Fort Stevens,
I went to the beach where the remains of the wreck of Peter
Iredale (in the water as it was high tide) where and then 
went out to the viewpoint at the the south jetty for the 
Columbia River, the furthest northwest you can go in Oregon.
The last visit of the day was to the Battery Russell, old 
gun holds for the fort.  It was interesting to read that 
Fort Stevens was actually fired upon by a Japanese sub in 
1942, but the fort did not return fire and the sub left the 


pictures (4 pictures)

Wednesday, August 8
I said goodbye to Oregon as I headed on the bridge over the
Columbia River and hello to Washington.  I went to Cape 
Disappointment (the furthest southwest in Washington) and 
visited the North Head Lighthouse and took the 1.5 mile walk
to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.  Then it was a bit of
driving north, with a sidetrip to the area of the town of 
Ocean Shores (it was simply a long sandy beach area, nothing
scenic, so I didn't stop at the beach, but I did use a free
wifi (online) spot in town).  I got a campsite in the Kalaloch
area of Olympic National Park and went ahead and headed up to
the Hoh Rain Forest.  I took a couple of short hikes through 
the hairy trees - okay, it's really moss, but it looks like 
they are covered in hair.  It's a temperate rain forest where 
moss is everywhere.  I went back to the Kalaloch area and 
walked Ruby Beach.  I found a really neat looking piece of 
driftwood that I kept (and I'm not a driftwood collector) and
only picked up a couple of rocks.  I went back to the campsite
area and surf walked for a short bit on the nearby beach and 
timed it perfect as there was a beautiful sunset between a 
pair of cloud banks (10 minutes later and I would have missed

Thursday, August 9
I spent a good hour and a half simply walking the pretty 4th
Beach area of Kalaloch (and restarted my mantra of "No more 
rocks!", which was ignored).  I had a little startle at one 
end of the beach when I looked left and saw an eye staring 
back at me - there was a dead small shark washed up on the 
rocks.  I moved my original plan of visiting the Mora area
of the Olympics to later as decided to do the long hike at
starting at Ozette Lake (a bit of a drive out of the way).
It was a triangle hike with 2 mostly boardwalk trails heading
out to the shore with a 3 mile hike along the shore in 
between for a total of 9.3 miles.  Notice I used the word 
"shore".  I thought it would be a nice, shoes-off, sandy 
beach to walk, but it ended up being a rocky shore that took
a lot of effort to cross and my hiking shoes stayed on.  I 
did see a pair of young deer grazing at a rock mound near 
the shore and there were a number of sea lions snoozing on 
the rocks off the shore - some of them looked really funny 
as they would be on a very small rock with their tails 
sticking up in the air to keep them out of the water.  I 
again added to my rock collection and spent about 5 hours on
that hike.  Despite the time, I decided to head out to Cape 
Flattery, the furtherest northwest you can go in the 
continental US, to do a short hike there to the viewpoint.  
I had done that once before, but it was very foggy when I 
was there last.  This time, it was partly cloudy with some 
sun (along the coast - inland was purely overcast and you 
couldn't see the Olympic Mountains) and I had some pretty 
views off the coast, including a great one of Tatoosh Island
and the old lighthouse on it.  I took a look at some birds 
in the area and got excited when I saw one with a black 
body, white head, and orange beak.  I pulled out my 
binoculars and, sure enough, it was a tuffed puffin!  And 
then I saw another one.  And another one.  So I saw 3 
different puffins there [jealous, Mom?].  I headed back to
the town of Forks area and got a campsite (late, at 8 pm) 
at Bogachiel State Park, opting for that place instead of 
going directly to Mora as Bogachiel has showers and Mora 
does not.


pictures (7 pictures)

Friday, August 10
After getting online for a little bit, I headed over to the
La Push/Mora coastal area (with a large river between the 
two).  I took the 1.4 mile hike through the trees to the pretty
Third Beach and spent quite a bit of time surf walking the 
entire length of the beach and reading some and enjoying the
area.  I got back to my car and continued towards La Push and 
was surprised to see a sign for Second Beach and lots of cars
parked there - my map said the trail was closed, but obviously
it was not.  So I took the .8 mile hike out to the larger 
beach - about 1.5 miles long - and again had a great time at 
the beach.  There were a number of large sea rocks just of the
coast that made the setting even more scenic.  I did surf walk 
the entire length of the beach and read some more.  With those
2 beaches, I was quite happy that I had rearranged my plans and
saved them for last as this was to be my last day at the 
Pacific Ocean.  I made a quick stop at La Push and First Beach
(not impressive) and then headed inland and then back out to 
the coast on the Mora side of the river to Rialto Beach.  There
were (small) rocks along the beach, but I was still able to 
surf walk (and add to my rock collection) and walked the length
of the beach 1.5 miles to Hole-in-the-Wall - a sea arch that I
was able to walk through as the tide was lower.  It was another
pleasant stop, but I needed to start heading back and heading 
inland.  I told myself that if I found a pretty large rock, I 
could take it home - and, of course, I did find a neat one and 
carried it over a mile back to the car (the good news was that 
meant I was unable to pick up more rocks on the way back - well,
I did find one pretty different one that I had to pick up).  So
I stood in the surf looking out at the ocean as the water lapped
at my feet for a little bit before I was able to pull myself 
away and say goodbye to the Pacific for now.  I headed inland 
through Olympic National Park and set up camp at Fairholme 
campground (didn't have a problem getting a site) and then headed
up to the semi-nearby Sol Duc area and took a short hike up to 
a waterfall there before calling it a night.

Saturday, August 11
I made the long drive around the peninsula and through Tacoma to
Seattle, where I stopped and spent a few hours taking care of 
car issues (dead headlight, the service department saw a cracked 
engine belt so that was replaced (ouch), free rotate tires).  Then
the rest of the day was spent with my aunt in Everett and visiting
my grandma.  So, absolutely no hiking was done this day, the first
time since July 19 I didn't do any hiking.

Sunday, August 12
It was another day of pure visiting and again no hiking was done
(that will change with a couple of short hikes on Monday in the 
Cascades).  I also worked on getting my computer to read my new
digit picture card (still working on it right now, grumble).


pictures (3 pictures)

Monday, August 13
My Aunt Geri and I headed up and east into the Northern 
Cascades for a long drive and a couple of short hikes.  After
about 3 hours, we reached the trailhead for Blue Lake.  It 
was just 2.2 miles to the lake, but the trail gained 1100 
feet, but surprisingly it wasn't a hard climb as the grade 
wasn't really steep.  At the end was a beautiful mountain 
lake in a wonderful setting - green trees along one side with
some distance granite peaks slightly visible from above and  
scree slopes topped by mountain peaks with some snow on 
another side.  I feet soaked and we had lunch there.  We 
didn't stay too long as we had another spot that I wanted to 
visit.  We went back west a few miles and hit the Rainy Lake 
Trail.  I had done this short (just a mile to the lake) hike 
with my parents and Grandma a number of years ago.  It was 
still a nice lake (larger than Blue Lake), but not as 
impressive after just having come from Blue Lake.  Due to time
constraints (wanted to visit my grandma in the early evening), 
I didn't do the 2 mile hike to Lake Ann (which starts from the 
Rainy Lake trailhead) but moved that to today (Wednesday) and 
will do that and a longer loop that goes by that lake and 
above Rainy Lake today before heading to Canada.

Tuesday, August 14
Well, I suckered (cough) talked my aunt into joining me on my 
planned hike from Obstruction Point in the Olympic Mountains.
After another long drive, including the last 8 miles on a 
narrow dirt road high in the Olympics (by the way, Dad, it is
extremely pretty there and you'll have to go back next time 
you visit and have enough gas to do it :) ), we headed out 
along the ridge for the (total) 9.4 miles, 2000 feet gained
hike.  The views all around were spectacular.  Geri enjoyed 
looking at the many wild flowers and our progress was slow due
to the many stops we made to take pictures of the mountains 
and (her) flowers.  It was a beautiful sunny, but cool, day 
and I was glad I had moved this hike from Saturday (where it 
would have also been more crowded).  We had a nice little 
lunch at a spot where we could look west and see Mt Olympus
in all its glory and then look east and see more mountains 
and Mt Baker (tallest peak in the Northern Cascades) in the 
far distances in all its glory.  We then started the steep 
down (and hated it on the way back).  We skipped the side 
trip to Grand Lake as we could see it from above and headed
on to Moose Lake.  We took a longer rest at the very pretty 
Moose Lake and both of us feet soaked and Geri enjoyed 
watching a little frog hunt for his food.  We then headed up
to Gladys Lake - Geri didn't quite make it to the lake (tired
and knowing we had the long trek back), but did get to see 
the far end of the valley with the open area beneath Grants
Pass.  I made a quick, picture taking visit to the lake and 
then we returned to our spot at Moose Lake and did some more
feet soaking and resting.  The hike out was long and 
miserable - it's a really steep up for about 1.5 miles and 
you can't really stop for more than a pause as the bitting 
flies will attack (even with bug spray on).  We again enjoyed
the views along the ridge (once we got there), but of course
were not looking around as much as we were ready to be done.
The drive back to Everett was even longer as we had to wait 
a bit for the ferry and then got stuck in extremely slow 
traffic just a mile from the exit we needed and didn't get 
home until about 10:30 pm.  It was a long day, but the visit
to and hike from Obstruction Point was a wonderful and 
memorable visit.

By the way, these will be the last pictures from this trip 
until I return home as I filled my old digital picture card
yesterday and still am unable to read the new card directly 
with my computer (even after spending several hours trying 
to get it to work, grumble).  I will add some pictures from 
the rest of the trip to the web site after I return.
[All pictures since added.]


pictures (5 pictures)

Wednesday, August 15
I returned to the Northern Cascades and Rainy Pass.  What a 
difference 2 days makes - there was a haze in the valley due
to a nearby forest fire (not threatening the area I was at).
I went on the Maple Pass Loop hike, including a side trip to 
Lake Ann.  It was a pretty lake and I was glad I had not 
tried to rush up for a quick visit on Monday.  But I did not
get to visit the lake for very long as the bugs were out and 
attacking.  Back at the loop trail, I continued heading up 
and reached the Heather Pass area.  I took a sidetrip to the
viewing area of the other side of the pass and was rewarded
with splendid views of Black Peak with the glacial Lake Lewis
beneath it.  A short side trail took me to an even better 
view and I could also see the waterfall beneath the lake.  I
resisted the temptation to go to the lake as it would have 
been a long and hard hike through a rock field (at least a 
mile) and that's not what I consider fun hiking.  So I 
returned back to the fun (sarcasm) of heading up the trail.
At what I thought would have been the pass turned out to be
just more up behind the ridge.  Again rests were few and 
short due to the bugs.  I finally reached the pass and 
looked briefly around before heading down.  Don't get me 
wrong, the views along the trail were wonderful.  It's just
that the bugs didn't let me enjoy them for very long.  The
down was steep and almost pure switchbacks the entire way.  
I did enjoy the views of the glacier in that valley and 
small lake beneath it.  There were only a few views of Rainy
Lake from above.  I finally reached my car - it was a long
6.5 mile hike - and drove west and then north.  I got a 
campsite at Birch Bay State Park, at the northwest tip of 
Washington just south of Canada.

Thursday, August 16
I got through customs pretty quickly without any bother 
(took longer the last time I went through) and made the long
drive through Vancouver.  Hwy 99 makes its way through the 
city with lots of turns and it's plenty of fun trying to 
keep an eye out for road signs saying turn here - it 
reminded me of Hwy 101 through San Francisco.  But I managed
to catch all the signs and didn't make any detours.  Then 
came the fun with all the road construction between Vancouver
and Whistler - the road is 80% under construction.  But I 
finally reached the area I wanted to be at and got a campsite
in Alice Lake Provincial Park.  There were clouds in the 
area, but the rain wasn't supposed to start until during the
night, so I went to Garibaldi Provincial Park to do the 
tough hike to Garibaldi Lake, getting a noon start.  It was 
5.5 miles to the lake, but the trail gained over 2600 feet.
After switchbacking forever, I finally reached the small 
Barrier Lake.  I slowed down even further as I couldn't help
but just stare at the stunning color of the lake (think Lake
Grinnell, for those who have been there).  The lake was 
surrounded by trees without any mountain views above and I 
continued on without stopping (though going slow).  After 3 
long hours, I reached Garibaldi Lake.  It is a very large 
glacier fed lake, the same color as Barrier Lake.  Above it
are massive mountains and large glacier fields.  Needless to 
say, the view was awesome.  I walked around the west edge of 
the lake to the small dock and sat there for a bit and feet 
soaked for a minute - the water was really cold.  I spent 
about an hour at the lake before heading out.  It took 2 
hours to get down (and that was going at a quick pace).  It
was a tough hike, but the reward was worth it.

Friday, August 17
I wasted some time in the morning trying to find a wifi spot
(failed) and trying to find a gas station (eventually 
succeeded) in the tourist town of Whistler.  It was an 
overcast day with the mountain peaks in the clouds.  I was 
hoping that the clouds would rise as the day went on, but it
didn't appear they would be doing so.  That was strike one.  
Strike two was a planned really hard hike (4.4 miles, 4000 
feet up to a mountain lake) that had my body hoping it would 
get rained out.  Strike three was that the access road to the 
trailhead was a gravel road and I decided that I didn't 
want to take my car up that and decided to toss the hike
(most of my patience went away with the frustrations in 
Whistler).  My body celebrated.  So I started the long 
drive to the Canadian Rockies, heading up Hwy 99 in the 
mountains.  About 60 miles north of Whistler, I looked to
the left after passing a park sign and saw granite peaks 
covered with glaciers.  I did a quick u-turn and pulled into
the parking lot for Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.  The info
sign showed a trail going a short distance to the lower lake
and then continuing on for about 3.3 miles to the middle and
upper lakes.  My body groaned and I put my hiking shoes on.  
The lower lake was a pretty, glacial blue, tree surrounded 
lake with glacier covered mountain high above.  The mild
hike to that lake was the only thing gentle about the trail.
From there on, the trail went up, up, up and consisted of 
lots of rocks and roots.  There was a long rock field that 
had me going at a snails pace and then the next good bit was
lots of steep ups on the rocks and roots - needless to say, 
it was also slow going on the way back.  But the middle lake
was wonderful with closer views of the looming peaks and 
glaciers above as well as the sound of the inlet stream.  
The upper lake was less than a mile ahead (and more rocky, 
rooty up).  It was the largest of the three lakes and the 
large Matter Glacier was right above it with the glacial 
melt forming a large waterfall that fed the lake.  From the 
lake, I could see 5 separate mountain peaks and 3 glaciers.
I didn't do any feet soaking at the lake as there weren't 
any good lakeside resting spots (might have been at the lake
campground at the top of the lake, but I didn't go there as 
the views wouldn't include the peaks above) and I knew the 
water would be really cold.  It did drizzle on me a couple 
of times during the hike, but it never really rained and 
stayed mostly dry and the clouds were not heavy on the 
peaks.  I eventually made it back to my car and continued 
heading north.  I stopped at a campground along Hwy 99, but 
elected not to stay there as I didn't really feel like 
staying at a place that didn't have flush toilets.  So with
the next campground that did have flush toilets being too 
far away (an estimate 8:30 arrival and no guarantee of 
having any available spots), I opted to splurge and am in a 
hotel in Kamloops (and also gives me a chance to get online).
So next up is the Canadian Rockies and hopefully some good
hikes there.


pictures (9 pictures)

Saturday, August 18
I continued heading east and reached Glacier National Park 
(Canada) and got a campsite there.  I went back to the 
nearby Mt. Revelstoke park and took the drive up the 
mountain to the top.  From there I headed out on a hike to 
two mountain lakes.  Miller Lake was a pretty lake with a
nice backdrop.  I then visited Eva Lake and was not 
impressed.  I was going to hike at least to Jade Pass, 
overlooking Jade Lakes (would have been a bit of down to 
get to the lakes and I had a late start to the hiking), but
when I had turned around from Eva Lake, I noticed the dark 
clouds in the area and decided it would be best to just 
head back to the car.  A few people zoomed passed me trying 
to get back before the rain started, but I continued at my
usual pace.  When the rain did start, I simply pulled out 
my rain poncho and continued on - it rained most of the rest
of the hike back.  On the drive back to my campsite, there 
was a stunning rainbow that had me pulling off the road 
every few miles to look at it and take a picture - so the 
rainy afternoon wasn't all bad.  

Sunday, August 19
I stopped at Rogers Pass in Glacier and waited a bit, hoping
the clouds would let up some so I could see the peaks - they
didn't and I eventually continued my drive to Lake Louise (a
few hours away).  It rained the entire drive and was raining 
in the Louise area.  I got a campsite there and then went to 
Canmore and did some grocery shopping and got some pizza 
(dinner for the next few nights).  It was still raining.  I
went to the pretty Moraine Lake and did a little bit of 
walking around, including doing the short Rockpile hike, 
despite the drizzle.  The peaks above the lake were mostly 
in the clouds, so the view wasn't as stunning as usual.  
With the rain, it was an early night of reading in the car.
The rain wasn't a surprise - I had looked at the forecast
on Wednesday (when I was at the hotel in Kamloops) and knew 
it was likely to rain in the Lake Louise area over the next
week.  Add the weather to the fact that there were bear 
restrictions on the two trails I had wanted to do in the 
area (minimum number of people needed to be allowed to hike
a trail due to bears in the area), I knew I wouldn't be 
hiking much in that area.

Monday, August 20
It was still cloudy in the morning, but the clouds were a 
little higher and I could actually see some of the peaks, so
I made short visits to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.  I again
did the Rockpile hike (where you get the best view of the 
lake), but got cold and made a quick return to my car - the
temperature was a mere 38 degrees, brrrr.  With the weather 
and trail issues in the area, I had decided to head on east 
and south to Waterton Lakes National Park - I originally 
didn't plan on spending any time in that park, but changed my
plans and decided to spend two days and do a couple of hikes.
I arrived at the park around 1 pm and got a campsite.  It was 
still overcast and was also windy with bits of drizzle.  I 
waited a little bit and then put my hiking gear on and did 
the hike up to Bertha Lake.  Hiking up a valley, I heard 
some rustling noise across the way and then saw a black bear 
stick her head up.  It was across the creek and a safe 
distance, so I was able to enjoy the sight (instead of being 
concerned).  She moved up the creek some and I then saw her 
cub (yes, I got good pictures).  After watching them for a 
bit, I continued heading up.  It was a good bit of up (1000 
feet gained in about 1.5 miles) from that spot to the lake.
Along the way, it changed from drizzle to rain and I found 
a dry spot under a tree to wait it out.  Sure enough, the 
rain soon stopped - and the sun even appeared, but only for
a short bit (I managed to do the hike without my rain poncho
and had a plastic bag over my camera).  The lake was pretty, 
but I wasn't able to enjoy it for very long as it was too 
cold at the lake with the wind blowing.  The hike back was
uneventful as the bears had moved on.  I went to a park 
program that evening and listened to a member of the 
Blackfeet tribe tell some tales that they use to instruct
their children.

Tuesday, August 21
It was another overcast day in the mountains.  On the drive 
to the area I was going to do a hike, I looked to the left 
and saw a rainbow - my 4th straight day of seeing a rainbow
(though none as impressive as the 1st day).  It was cool in 
the Cameron Lake area, so I wasted some time hoping it 
would warm up some.  Eventually I decided to go on my hike, 
putting on my sweatpants and bringing along my warmer 
jacket (in addition to having on a t-shirt and light long 
sleeve shirt).  I headed up the trail and was going to hit
two separate lakes from the main trail - one a hard hike and
one an easy hike.  The hard hike was a steep up with no 
switchbacks that had me huffing and puffing for a while.  
The trail calmed down after 1/2 mile and about a mile later
I reached Forum Lake.  The lake wasn't that impressive, but
had a sheer cliff face backdrop that was impressive.  But 
it was cold and windy and I didn't stay long.  Back at the 
main trail, I continued on a short bit and then took a left
for the easy hike up to Wall Lake, a lake I visited last 
year.  The lake was as pretty as I remembered, similar to 
Forum Lake with the sheer backdrop but with more trees 
surrounding it.  I made my way around the lake and it 
started drizzling.  It was drizzling off and on and I
reached a spot I like at the top of the lake and made a 
pseudo-tent with a boulder and my hiking stick and my rain
poncho as I wanted to visit the lake for a bit instead of 
rushing back down.  So I stayed a bit and enjoyed the views
and even saw a mountain goat high above.  Back on the main 
trail, it had stopped drizzling and I was even able to take
off my jacket and sweatpants for the hike back.  The day 
had warmed up to a brisk 54 degrees.  So I headed out of 
the park to a nearby private campsite where they have 
internet access.  I needed to get online as I'm heading to
Glacier National Park (Montana) for about a week and I 
know I won't have online access while in that beautiful 
park.  The weather is supposed to be beautiful over the 
next several days in Glacier, so it will be a nice getting
out of the rain.


pictures (11 pictures)

Wednesday, August 22
I headed down south and got a campsite in the Many Glacier 
area of Glacier National Park and then it was hiking gear 
on and up to my second favorite spot in Glacier.  It was a
partly cloudy day, but more partly sunny for the valley I 
was in and I didn't get rained on (yeah).  The hike was as
pretty as always with views up the valley and up another 
valley and views down on the stunning Grinnell Lake.  And
then the destination is just wonderful - a large glacial 
lake with many icebergs with a glacier to the left and a
glacier above (and 3 waterfalls from that glacier) and 
granite peaks above.  Needless to say, I took a lot of 
pictures, even though it was my fourth time there.  That 
was my day, and I was happy.

Thursday, August 23
I was hoping that I would again be lucky and have some sun
in my valley as I headed up to Iceberg Lake and also 
planned on doing the Ptarmigan Tunnel hike (for a Y shaped
hike as the two trails shared the same start).  I was 
teased with bits of blue sky early on in the hike, but that
didn't last long.  As I was heading towards Iceberg Lake I
had my highlight of the day as there was a moose near the 
trail (of course I have pictures) - I think it is only the 
second time I've seen a moose on a hike.  My day went down 
hill from there as while I was watching him it started 
raining (not drizzling).  I put my rain gear on, but was 
still pretty cold.  I reached the lake and was a little 
disappointed that there were no icebergs in the lake (there
usually are even this late in the summer) and shivered 
sitting lakeside bunched up under my rain poncho.  I stayed
as long as I could stand the cold and then headed back, 
debating whether or not to do the other hike or just go back
and warm up in my car.  Of course, about 10 minutes after I 
left the lake it stopped raining.  As I got close to the 
Ptarmigan junction, I had decided to go ahead and do that 
hike - I could feel my fingers again (okay, that's an 
exaggeration as I didn't get quite that cold) and figured I 
would warm up more with the climb that occurs at the start 
of that junction.  While I was heading up, a trio coming 
down told me that there was a goat carcass on the trail 
going up to the tunnel.  I was surprised as usually when 
there is a carcass the rangers close the trail completely.
I passed a large group of 8 people and they said they were
going up to the tunnel.  I decided to play it by ear - if 
there were any bears in the trail area, I would not go up.
If it was clear, I would latch on to that group to head up
(safety in numbers) (the view from the other side of the 
tunnel is the highlight of the hike, the lake is nothing
exciting).  I arrived at the lake area well before they did
and went lakeside and feet soaked for a bit.  Two guys who 
were fishing at the lake told me that they had seen a bear 
and two cubs and a male grizzly bear that had walked over 
to the area above the trail where we were - but not up the 
tunnel trail.  Since there were no visible bears in the 
area and the tunnel trail was clear (it's an open scree 
slope), and joined the group and we headed up.  The carcass 
was nasty looking, but didn't look like a recent death and 
maybe that explained why there weren't any bears around. 
So I got to see the wonderful views from the other side of
the tunnel while more rain clouds moved in.  I actually 
waited in the tunnel while a down pour occurred and then 
got down the scree slope without getting rained on - though
it did rain off and on the rest of the hike out.  About 1/2
mile from the Iceberg Lake junction, I encountered a ranger
heading up and asked him if he was going to check out the 
carcass.  He replied that, no, he was closing the trail.  
There was a rope barrier at the junction that I had to 
slip under and, thus, I was one of the last people to hike 
that trail for a while.  After taking a hot shower, I gave 
myself a treat with a real meal at the Italian Restaurant
in the area (and, no, I did not order pizza).

Friday, August 24
There was a heavy fog in the morning, but it was supposed 
to be a pretty day.  I headed over from Many Glacier and
got a campsite at Rising Sun, on the east side of the 
Going-to-the-Sun road.  I was pleased as punch to start 
using the new free shuttle the park service now provides 
for the road and headed up to Logans Pass.  It was sunny 
and beautiful, though a bit cool (but I had a t-shirt, a
light long sleeve shirt, and my warmer jacket with me).
Up for this day was a long hike along the Highline Trail 
(aka the Garden Wall).  There was a small herd of bighorn
sheep early on the trail.  The scenic views all along the
hike were wonderful.  I had hiked the Highline trail 
before, but didn't do the sidetrip up to the Grinnell 
Glacier Overlook.  This time I was going to do that.  I 
reached the junction and was happy to see it was only .6
miles to the overlook.  "Only" turned out to be a huff-
and-puff torture up through the open slope that had me 
stopping (not just pausing) every few minutes.  But then 
I got to the top.  The view was absolutely stunning.  On
the way up I felt that nothing could be worth all that 
effort, but the reward was even better than the effort.
I was looking down on the two glaciers (there are now an 
upper glacier and a lower glacier), the large glacial 
lake that I've visited on the hike from Many Glacier, 
and several small glacier lakes on the upper shelf, 
including one that was a sapphire blue.  Easily the 
highlight of my visit to Glacier.  I took The Loop trail
for the back portion of the hike and was disappointed as 
there were not any good views and most of it was through
burned out forest from the fires of 2003.  I then took 
the shuttle back.

Saturday, August 25
For this day, I was actually doing a hike I haven't done
before.  I was doing the Siyeh Pass loop hike, starting 
at Siyeh Bend and ending at Sunrift Gorge.  The views 
were great and I was blown away - but that was because 
the wind was ridiculous.  Oh my gosh, the wind was trying
to blow me off the mountain side as I slowly made my way 
up the pass.  And if that wasn't bad enough, the trail 
fooled me and the pass wasn't where I thought it was - I
had a lot further up to go.  But the views were pretty 
and I made it up without getting blown over.  On the 
other side of the pass, it was still windy, but not quite
as bad (though at lower points of the hike there were 
some strong gusts).  Both sides of the pass had granite 
peaks with glaciers in the upper areas, but the waterfalls
on the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Mountain were a
sight to see.  Along the way down (still high up), I was 
startled by a bighorn sheep on the trail.  He quickly 
trotted down and joined his family of about 8, and I got 
some good pictures.  After a long, windy (as in blowing, 
not twisting) way, I finally reached the creek.  It was 
down a ways from the waterfalls, but held its own charm
as the water would cascade down the red rock.  I found a 
nice spot there and rested for a bit.  Good thing I did 
as it was still a ways to go.  The trail went away from 
the creek a short ways later as was uneventful the rest 
of the way.  So if doing that 10.6 mile hike with 1900 
feet gained wasn't enough, I took the shuttle to Logans
Pass and did the 1.5 mile hike up to the Hidden Lake 
overlook.  The mountain goats were out, as usual, and I 
even got some pictures of one of the goats licking the 
top of the rails at the overlook - they are quite used 
to people being around.  So I went to my spot with a 
pretty view down on the lake and read for a little while
before heading back down and calling it a day.

Sunday, August 26
So I saved the best for last.  The weather was iffy, but 
I hoped it would stay pleasant or at least not rain as I
headed up to Gunsight Lake.  My heart was wanting to do
the whole Gunsight Pass-Sperry Chalet-Lake McDonald 
monster hike (over 20 miles), but my mind and body were 
arguing against it.  The weather would actually be the 
key for my mind and body winning.  It didn't rain, but 
was overcast the entire way to the lake, and the weather
was supposed to be worse on the west side of the park.  
I spent a little time at the lake (it was windy) and then
headed up the pass (part of my original plan).  I decided
to turn around halfway up (with a good view all around)
as I knew if I got to the pass I would end up going down
(and up and down as there is another pass to cross) to 
Lake McDonald - this way the temptation wasn't there.  So
I enjoyed my views from above and returned the lake for 
a longer visit.  I took my time on the hike back and only
got drizzled on for two short bits.  With the shuttle 
system, I opted to take a different hike out instead of 
the last mile up to the road and I headed on the trail 
for 3 miles to Sun Point - I should have just gone up as 
that trail wasn't anything exciting and there weren't 
really any good views.  With that extra bit, it ended 
up being a 17 miles hike (but, as my head tells my heart, 
it was only about 1000 feet gained and lost where as the 
other hike would have been around 3000 feet gained and 
5000 feet lost).


pictures (18 pictures)

Monday, August 27
I had one last place to visit before leaving Glacier 
National Park.  Heading south, I made the side trip to the
Two Medicine area and did the short walk to Running Eagle
Falls and had breakfast next to the pretty falls.  The falls
actually come out of a hole in the mountain and is very 
unique (and one of my 5 favorite places in Glacier).  So 
then it was the long drive to Yellowstone - made even longer
since the route I choose had a 30 minute construction 
delay.  But the information center in West Yellowstone had
free wifi and I was able to log on and catchup everyone
with my adventures in Glacier as well as go through 5 days 
worth of mostly junk email and a handful of real emails 
and catchup with the goings on in the NBA.  That only took 
about 2 hours.  So I finally headed into Yellowstone about
7:30 pm and a short ways into the park there were a number
of cars pulled off on the side of the road and a group of 
people looking to the left.  I decided to stop and join 
them and see what all the excitement was.  So I grabbed my
camera, crossed the road, and looked.  My eyes grew wide
and I got all excited and rushed back to my car to grab 
my binoculars.  There across the river sitting high in a 
dead tree was a bald eagle - the first time I've seen a 
mature bald eagle in the wild.  And I've got about 20 
pictures of him to prove it.  I had a grin on my face for
the next hour - the highlight of my trip.  After spending
a good amount of time watching him basically do nothing, 
I continued heading east into the park and decided it 
would be best to stop at the first campground (Madison)
as it would be dark by the time I would reach any other

Tuesday, August 28
I was up early, as usual, and was heading towards Canyon 
Village.  There was some pretty pink hues in the steam 
(yes, steam) from the sunrise and I pulled over to get a
picture.  As I was pulling over, I noticed a buffalo near
the side of the road and got a picture of him too.  A 
little bit later on the road, I had to slow down to a 
stop as there was another buffalo walking down the middle
of the road.  He casually walked towards the left side of
the road so I could pass - only in Yellowstone can you 
pass a buffalo like you were passing a car.  I elected to
stop at Artists Paintpots and do a less than a mile walk
to, around, and back from the thermal area.  It wasn't 
that exciting of an area, but wetted my appetite to 
return to the pretty Firehole Lake Drive.  So I eventually
reached the Canyon area, the so called Grand Canyon of 
Yellowstone that contains two large waterfalls.  I stopped
at all the overlooks and took the three hikes to the falls
(long down to the bottom of the Lower Falls, long down to 
the top of the Lower Falls, and short down to the top of 
the Upper Falls - the Lower Falls is the more impressive
of the two falls).  I then headed out to the other side 
of the canyon to the Uncle Toms area (with Artist Point 
being closed as they are re-doing that area) and had 
another surprise as there was a herd of buffalo in the 
parking area - as in around 30 buffalo.  I watched them 
for a bit, making sure to keep a safe distance, and even
got to see a couple of the males butting heads.  I 
couldn't get to the viewpoint of the Upper Falls as there
were buffalo in the way, but I headed out and down to 
the viewpoint for the Lower Falls - Uncle Toms trail.  
Tom Richardson (if I recall correctly) used to do tours 
there with rock steps and rope ladders.  Now it is a 
metal staircase with 350 steps - lots of fun going up.
As impressive as the falls were, I was captivated by the
beautiful rainbow formed in the mist.  By the time I got
to the Upper Falls view area, the buffalo were gone but 
a different herd had taken their place and I didn't 
stay long (a large tour group had arrived).  During my 
visit to the falls, I had a change in plans.  I had 
decided to spend a good chunk of the day in Yellowstone
instead of rushing down to the Tetons and doing a hike 
there (moved the hike to a different day).  So I 
satisfied my itch and headed over to the Firehole Lake
Drive and stopped at the pretty thermal areas along that
road.  When I stopped at the Great Fountain Geyser, 
someone told me that it should erupt in less than an 
hour.  So, with no rush, I got my book and sat and 
waited.  And waited.  And waited.  About 1:15 later, it
finally did erupt (after a few false starts of bubblings
that stopped) and it was impressive as it spouted water 
(and steam) high into the air in spurts for over 30 
minutes - I think I watched for 20 minutes before 
leaving.  As I was pulling into the next stop of a 
large white mound that contained another geyser, that
geyser (White Dome Geyser) erupted - it wasn't a very 
long eruption, but was pretty.  So then I headed to 
the nearby Fountain Paintpot area, another pretty 
thermal area, and walked the boardwalks around there
looking at the thermal springs with their stunning 
blue color, the bubbling mud pools, and some more 
geyers - Spasm Geyser was erupting while I was there
and was true to it's name (spouts of water, pause, 
spouts of water, pause, ...).  I was ready to head 
on out and decided to skip the usual stop at Old 
Faithful (I have been a couple of times) as I was 
sick of the sulfer smell, probably would have to 
wait a bit for that eruption, and had enough of 
large groups of tourists.  So I headed to the Grand
Tetons.  I got a campsite for the next 3 nights at
Colter Bay (Jenny Lake was already full for the 
night and Colter Bay is the only campground with 
showers - even though they are a ridiculous $3.50).
It was still kind of early, so I headed over to 
String Lake and did the mile level walk to Leigh
Lake and feet soaked for a while and had dinner 
there before calling it a day.

Wednesday, August 29
I had decided during my drive to Yellowstone to 
add a day to my visit to the Tetons to do a repeat
of the long loop hike of Holly Lake - the Divide -
Lake Solitude.  A little 20.4 mile jaunt with 3,825
feet gained to reach the divide.  I started at 7:45
am with the pretty walk along String Lake, which 
was still in the morning for great reflection 
pictures of the peaks.  Then came the long hike up
the pretty Paintbrush Canyon (no paintbrush flowers
at this time of year, but also no bugs).  At one 
point I heard rustling off to the side and saw 
large antlers of a moose in the bush.  I kept my 
distance and made some noise, letting him know I
was there.  He gave a snort and then moved closer
to the creek and further from the trail (and all
I could see of him was the antlers), so I was able
to pass safely.  I made it to the pretty Holly Lake
without further incident and spent some time feet
soaking, enjoying the views, and reading.  I found
out later from a trio that were hiking at the same
time I was that shortly after I left, a bear came
rumbling down the slope right to the area where I
had been (and the trio quickly left the area), so 
my timing was very good.  I huffed and puffed my 
way up to the divide, enjoying the views with my 
many pauses, and couldn't help but let out a 
whoop of joy and accomplishment when I finally 
reached the divide.  A short ways from the divide
was a large snow patch with a small pond at one 
end and I found a nice resting spot near the pond
and stayed for a while (no feet soaking as I'm 
sure the water was ice cold).  And then I headed
down, down, down the other side and reached Lake
Solitude.  The last time I was there, I didn't 
really care for the lake, but this time I liked
it.  Unlike the last time, I wasn't as dead tired
and there were only a few people at the lake.  So
I stayed there for a while and again feet soaked
and read.  Being in the afternoon, I had some 
good views of the mountain peaks while heading 
down Cascade Canyon.  The last 3 miles were 
uneventful and I had the attitude of 'just get 
it over'.  I reached my car around 7:15 pm.  I 
then headed back to the campground and took my
expensive, but needed, shower.

Thursday, August 30
There were clouds in the morning that had me 
concerned about the weather.  Up for this day was 
a hike to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes, a 
little 4.8 mile, almost 3000 feet gained, outing.
So I headed up, up, and up.  Right before the 
long switchback section, a fellow hiker mentioned
the number of switchbacks - something I didn't 
want to know, but once I did I couldn't help but
keep track of the number.  His number of 9 long 
switchbacks (as in distance between the 
switchbacks) was correct, but his mention of 24 
total switchbacks was thankfully off as there 
were only 8 short (but still up) switchbacks 
after the 9.  I reached the pretty Surprise Lake,
but didn't stay as long as I had hoped to as it
was overcast and breezy and it was a little too 
cold for simply sitting lakeside (and I had left
my jacket in the car, figuring it would again 
warm up into the 70s).  So I headed up to 
Amphitheater Lake, a larger lake with the 
Cathedrals (as the Tetons' biggest peaks are 
called) looming above.  It wasn't breezy there 
and I sat lakeside for a while.  I didn't feet 
soak as some darker clouds were in the area and
I was concerned about rain - only one very 
brief drizzle was the only moisture that occurred.
Some of the clouds left and there was actually 
some blue sky over the Cathedrals.  I headed back
down to Surprise Lake (which I prefer with my 
fondness for smaller lakes) and the breeze was 
gone and I feet soaked for a bit and stayed for 
well over an hour and finished the book I was 
reading.  On the way back down, I decided to take
the sidetrip up Granite Canyon (adding 2 miles 
and some more elevation to my day).  It was 
pretty, but I wished I hadn't bothered going to 
the end of the trail as the best view was 
actually the first view up the canyon from the 
trail.  On the drive back, I had to stop my car 
as a black bear poked his head out of the brush
and then, seeing I had stopped, made a quick dash 
across the road.  I again paid the exorbitant
fee for a shower.


pictures (14 pictures)

Friday, August 31
It was a good day for driving as there was a heavy cloud
layer over the mountains.  And it was a long day of driving
of about 10 hours to reach Rocky Mountain National Park.  
My fear of being in the park for Labor Day Weekend was 
founded as the campgrounds were fairly full, but I did 
manage to get a campsite for Friday night (but they were 
expected to be full on Saturday).  I then headed over to 
the Longs Peak area hoping to be able to make arrangements
for Saturday night as I planned on starting the Longs Peak
climb at the recommended 2 am on Sunday morning.  Thanks 
to a kindly ranger, my Saturday night concerns were taken
care of.  After grocery shopping (needed a big bottle of 
Gatorade for Sunday's hike), I spent some time trying to 
find a place to get online and then being online for a 
while.  I did see a fox cross the road and lots of elk in 
Estes Park.  That was my day - no hiking done this day.

Saturday, September 1
I headed over to the Bear Lake area of the park, where I 
would spend most of the day.  I first took the short (only 
1.1 miles) hike up to Dream Lake, my favorite in the park, 
and the additional .7 miles ahead to Emerald Lake.  It was
an overcast morning and I was concerned it was going to 
rain most of the day - it actually never did even drizzle
and was only partly cloudy in the afternoon.  After visiting
Emerald Lake, I returned to Dream Lake and stayed there a 
little while enjoying the pretty lake.  I returned back to 
Bear Lake and then started my big hike of the day - a 9 mile
half loop.  I took my time and didn't rush the hike - I had 
done this hike many years before.  I spent some time at the 
precious Lake Helene, with the granite peaks above.  The 
rest of the hike was down hill.  I stopped at Odessa Lake 
(not as pretty as Lake Helene) and feet soaked and read a
book for a while.  Then it was on to the unimpressive Fern 
Lake (and I felt sorry for those who had hiked the 5 miles 
up from the trailhead just to visit that uneventful lake).
The 5 miles hike out was also uneventful (though I stopped 
and talked hiking for a length of time with two different 
couples along the way out).  From the Fern Lake trailhead, 
I took the shuttle back to the Bear Lake area, arriving 
around 5 pm.  I decided to head back up to Dream Lake for 
another visit.  There were a number of people fishing at 
the lake, but I found a nice spot and feet soaked and read
for around 45 minutes.  I took part of the scenic drive 
along the Trail Ridge Road before heading to the Longs Peak
area and my short night.

Sunday, September 2
After a restless about 5 hours of sleep, I woke up at 2:11 
am (with the alarm set for 2:15 am).  I started the trip 
with a hard hike (okay, stupid hike - the Grand Canyon 
down-and-up in a day) so it was only appropriate to end 
the trip with a hard hike.  Up for this day was a hike up 
Longs Peak, the tallest (14,259) in Rocky Mountain National
Park.  My goal was actually not the peak, but a geological 
feature about a mile from the top called the Keyhole.  I 
had read a couple of hike reports and didn't know if my 
acrophobia could handle the last two sections of the hike, 
so I'd play it by ear and see how I felt about continuing 
once I reached the Keyhole.  So the up, up, up started with 
a headlamp hike (or necklamp as I wear it like a neckless
instead of strapped to my forehead) with the first 2 miles 
going up through the trees.  There were some clouds in the 
sky, but I did get to see some stars and the half-moon along
the way (even saw the constellation Orion later in the hike, 
my favorite group of stars).  Once I was above the tree line, 
it was amazing watching the string of lights heading up the 
trail - there were lots and lots of people on the trail this
morning, being a Sunday on a holiday weekend.  I was towards
the front of the pack with my early start and steady pace, so
the crowds weren't too heavy where I was at (though the same 
people kept passing me and I kept passing them as we'd take 
breaks).  It was still dark when I rounded the bend behind 
Mt Lady Washington, so I was a little disappointed in not 
having alpenglow on the frontside of the peaks (I had 
actually slowed down at one point to try to get sunrise 
before I rounded the bend, but changed my mind once I saw all
the lights heading up and decided it would be better to stay 
in ahead of most of the crowds).  So I continued heading up 
the backside along the rocky trail and it finally started 
getting lighter and about 30 minutes later I was able to 
turn off my headlamp.  As I reached the campground right 
before the Boulder Field, I was enthusiastically surprised 
to see the sunlight hitting Longs Peak and the Keyhole with 
the alpenglow (lots of pictures taken) - alpenglow sometimes
occurs when the first sunlight hits mountain features and 
generally paints them a shade of orange and it only lasts 
about 15 minutes.  The view with alpenglow was stunning.  It
did distract for a little while from the "I got to go up 
there???" aspect of the hike through the rock field with a 
steep up to the Keyhole (they actually call it a boulder 
field, but most of the rocks weren't what I'd consider 
boulders, more of large rocks).  And it was a long, tough
up over the rocks for 1/2 mile to the Keyhole, with a very 
tough up the last short bit where using the hands was needed
to get up.  The Keyhole actually looks like a keyhole in that
it is a jagged dip in the ridge that looks like a Z and 
backwards Z put together.  The trail goes through the Keyhole 
and continues on up the other side.  I reached the Keyhole 
and enjoyed the spectacular views down on the otherside of 
the Glacier Gorge valley with a number of mountain lakes well 
below me.  I took one look to the left (where the "trail" 
went) and said, "No fricken way!".  So I was accurate and the
Keyhole was my destination.  The way continued along a rock
ledge with Bullseye paint marking the way and then the last 
1/2 mile (called the Homestretch) was a steep up a loose rock
slope that I knew there was no way I'd make it back down - 
most people sit on the rear and use their arms and legs to 
slowly make their way down.  But the Keyhole was a worthy 
destination and the views were worth the 6.5 mile, 3,750 feet
gained hike (the Keyhole is at 13,160 feet).  After enjoying 
the views for a while, next up was the fun part of trying to 
figure out how to get down (and wondering how the heck I got
up there).  It was very slow going for the first short bit - 
one person heading up said, "And they say this is not 
technical."  And another responded, "They say this is as 
non-technical as you can get before they call it technical."
(Technical is where it is no longer simply a trail and is 
considered mountain climbing.)  But I eventually made it 
back to the campground and continued heading down, in no rush
and stopping at times to take longer breaks.  Along the way, 
someone said, "Good morning."  And my response was, "Is it 
still morning?", but it was only 9:30 am (but I had been 
hiking for 7 hours).  So I enjoyed the views that I could not
see on the way up.  Since I didn't make it to the peak (which,
by the way, is more an accomplishment than a stunning view as 
the peak is a large area about the size of a football field), 
I decided to take the sidetrip to Chasm Lake (which I had
hiked to before).  I actually like the valley right before the
lake more than the lake and stopped there before and after 
visiting the lake.  I, of course, feet soaked at the lake.  
There is another rock field climb right before the lake and I
had my only tumble of the day near the bottom of that area on 
the way down (nothing injured).  The clouds had rolled in and 
it did drizzle a little bit on the hike out.  There was thunder
in the distance as I finished the hike and the prediction of 
afternoon thunderstorms was correct (the reason for the early 
starts to the hike is that they'd like everyone to be off the
peak by noon due to the threat of lightning).  So I finished 
my hike at 1:45 pm.  I dropped some cookies off at the ranger 
station as thanks for the ranger's kindness in bending the 
rules slightly that allowed me to do this hike and then started
the long drive home and stopped in Colby, Kansas when it got 

Monday, September 3
So on day 49 it was simply the long drive home, over 11 hours
before I reached Dallas (and, guess what, it was raining again).

So that's my little 7 week trip.  I put over 9,500 miles on my
car, went through 13 different states and 2 Canadian providences,
and took over 1,500 pictures (thank goodness for digital 
cameras).  Out of the 49 days, only 6 days had absolutely no 
hiking (1st driving day, drive to Reno, 2 family visit days in
Seattle (and car repair), drive to Rockies, drive home) and 3
had only short hikes (2 rainy days in Lake Louise, Running Eagle
Falls 1/2 mile hike and drive to Yellowstone).  My car was my 
home for all but 8 nights (hotels in Reno, Arcata, Kamloops, 
and Colby and 4 nights at my Aunt Geri's in Everett).  Hope you 
enjoyed the trip reports.  Special thanks to my Aunt Geri for 
hosting me during my visit to Everett and being a good sport on 
the too hard hike in the Olympics.  And special thanks to the 
Ocean Shores Library (Washington), Forks Visitor Center 
(Washington), and West Yellowstone Visitor Center for offering 
free wifi that allowed me to get online without a hassle or cost.


pictures (7 pictures)

Patricia Bender
Not affiliated with or representing anyone besides myself