Surveyed my KIDS!

I’m really proud of my daughters. They are working up to hitting one hundred miles hiked in the past fourish months. Whatever quarantine has been. We have literally been all over Washington and have also stepped our toes into Oregon a few times. Have really tried to stay in Washington and not go too far away from home.

I got curious. We have been a hiking family forever. Our girls were out hiking just as they started walking. We have always been heavily involved in the outdoors and adventuring. So I wanted to know what their favorite hikes have been. So one day upon waking up I gave them all the objective to think about all the hiking we have done and to come back to me that night with their top three favorites, why and which one they found out of the three to be the hardest.

I’m going to list off their lists. Will start with my youngest daughter. Madison, she is 10. She listed some great ones for sure.

• Skyline Trail. This one is located at Paradise on Mount Rainier. The trail is a 5.9 mile loop. With an elevation gain of 1,788 feet. 
• Summit Lake. This one is located near Mount Rainier/ Carbon River entrance. The trail is 5.7 mile out and back hike. With an elevation gain of 1,443 feet.
• Bench and Snow Lake. This one is located near Reflection Lake on Mount Rainier. The trail is 2.7 miles out and back hike. With an elevation gain of 498 feet. 

Madison shared with me reasons as to why these were her favorite hikes. Skyline she enjoyed because she got to see her first Mountain Goat. Which she first thought was a horse. Was actually pretty funny. She was the one who saw it first and turned around to her dad and I and asked “why is there a horse up here?” We about died laughing. Has been such an amazing memory for all of us. A moment we wont ever forget. Same hike at Panorama Point we stopped for a break where a very curious and cute little chipmunk thought he would make friends with her and climbed all over her. I think he was after her very smelly food in her pack. She loved the animals and thought the chipmunk was fun.
Summit Lake she enjoyed because of the moody weather we had that day. By the time we made it up to the view point and where one would see the lake and mountain it was heavily clouded. She enjoyed the cloudy view. She said she felt like she was “on top of the world” She also enjoyed coming back down because we did stop at the lake and the let the kids get wet a bit.
Bench and snow lake she liked because it was the best of all worlds and gave a lot of different perspectives. Meaning the lakes, distant waterfalls, water crossings, flowers, views of the mountain, small animals. She did complain about the bugs on this particular hike though. They really were bad.

Out of these hikes, Madison said that the hardest would’ve probably been the Summit Lake hike. She said it felt like we were constantly going up. Not much for flat walking at all. Especially the last bit after the lake as it did seem like most of the incline came at that point.

Alright my next daughter Cheyenne she is 15. Definitely going to get some diversity with this one and her choices.

• Ruby Beach. This one is located on the Pacific Coast. The trail is a 1.4 mile loop. With an elevation gain of 68 feet. 
• Kalaloch Creek Nature Trail/Tree of Life. Again located on the Pacific Coast. Trail is a 1.4 mile out and back hike. With an elevation gain of 13 feet. 
• Kalaloch Beach 4. Again located on the Pacific Coast. Trail is 1 mile out and back hike. With an elevation gain of 98 feet. 

Cheyenne shared that Ruby Beach was her favorite. She enjoyed the large rock formations. All of the tide pools and ability too see so many different critters up close in their habitat.
KCNT she enjoys as a nice walk through the Hoh Rainforest. Able to feel like your in the depths of the forest but still being right next to the ocean. The Tree of Life has also always been one of her favorite places to visit. The way to tree looks and the feelings she gets when standing by it she says is empowering. And its only a short walk from the parking area to the tree.
Beach 4 she liked because again we got to go through a nice thick forest before reaching the beach. The feel and dynamic of the beach was different than any of the others. The rock formations and appearance of them made them interesting. And with the longer harder hike it seemed less people were at this spot.

Out of these hikes the hardest for her would’ve been Beach 4. Had the greatest elevation change and upon getting to the beach we had to climb over large rocks to get to the beach. And depending on the type of shoes you are wearing sand on the rocks made it to be a tad slippery/challenging. But once on the beach all was ok. Going back up the rocks to the steep incline back up to the parking area wasn’t too bad either.

Last but not least Emma she is 16. Another whole different view. Love how the girls have their favorites.

• Mashel Falls. This one is located in Eatonville, WA the trail is 5.3 miles out and back hike. With an elevation gain of 741 feet. 
• Franklin Falls. This one is located off I-90 in North Bend. The trail is 3.8 miles long out and back hike. With an elevation gain of 531 feet. 
• Silver Falls Loop. This one is located at the Ohanapeacosh Campground off 410. The trail is a 4 mile loop. With an elevation gain of 705 feet. 

Emma shared with me that Mashel Falls holds close to her heart because she has hiked that hike with her class and friends getting a chance to take a swim in one of the many pools. Then we have got to do it a few times together as a family. Silver Falls she said was her favorite because the water was so unbelievably blue. It really made the hike great. Being able to see something so vibrant and amazing created by the planet. Then she said Franklin Falls was a nice waterfall with so many different spots to stop and see different views of the river, offering many small falls and beautiful views.

Out of these hikes she expressed Franklin being the hardest because the end of the hike was trying because of the rocks that we had to walk across to get down to the falls. They are slabs of rocks that are slippery when they’re wet. And they’re wet from the spray of the falls.

The girls really did a great job in taking the time and thinking about what hikes they liked. How they impacted them. The difficulty, the views. With all things considered I was pretty pleased in what they picked. It was fun listening to the reasons and their stories behind each of their choices. I absolutely love all their choices. I think based on their choices here. My top three off their picks I would pick Skyline, Ruby and Silver Falls.

Fremont Lookout (sunrise edition)

I have wanted for the longest time to make it to this lookout. Has been on my bucket list for the longest of times. And the amounts of time that we spend at Rainier I’m honestly surprised it took as long as it did. The hike really isn’t even that long or hard. While the entire way going to the lookout is up. It’s a long narrow climb. So maybe it was that, that got in my mind.

Aside from the long and narrow climb we thought we would spice things up a bit and give it a go in the dark. Fremont is a great place to hike to in order to catch the sunrise. Which was ultimately the bucket list hike I had in mind. Had always wanted to go up there and hike in the dark and be on top of the peak for the sunrise coming up out of the east. Well, we did it and here was our experience.

Let me set the scene for you. Since we are living through a pandemic and having observed the amount of people participating in outdoor adventures lately has been monumental. We knew we had to get to the parking lot at Sunrise early in order to beat the crowds and have enough time to get to the top. Its listed that an average in shape and fit hiker can do the trek in about 45 minutes. I thought to myself upon reading that “Did they run it?” Ok so we ended up heading up to Chinook Pass the day before we planned on our sunrise hike. We ended up parking at the rest area at Tipsoo Lake. There were no signs saying not to camp or overnight there in a car. And that’s what we were doing.

Got up there early so we hiked Tipsoo then went across to Little Tipsoo and hiked around there. Watched the sunset and enjoyed people watching because lord there were definitely a lot of people up there that night. Finally the sun went down and the amounts of people that were there left by the car full and it started to die down and we started getting the car prepared for our nap. This wouldn’t of been the first time sleeping in the car. We have done it a number of times, but this is the first time we really skimped on our bed. We just used our inflatable mattresses that we use for overnights from our hiking pack. For some reason we just had the hardest of times getting comfortable. Then we’d finally fall asleep and someone who had a loud car or was just being loud in general would go by. Benefits of sleeping at a rest stop.

Literally had our nap. Maybe two or three hours of sleep and the alarm went off to wake us. We got up and hopped in the front of the car and were on our way. Luckily we only had about 15 minutes to drive before we were in the parking lot. So we picked a great spot to nap. Pulled in and was so surprised at how many people were there preparing to hike up. So on the same hike as us, others were heading different directions. The mountain is massive on Sunrise side there really isn’t a bad angle to catch the mountain for sunrise.

Got our headlamps and gear on and prepared up to Sourdough Ridge. The weather was clear, could see a dark shadow that made out the edge of the mountain. Was pretty awesome too, because looking at the mountain you could make out two climb teams with headlamps on making their trek to the top of the mountain. Made it to the top of Sourdough Ridge and kept on going. Made it past Frozen Lake. Finally to the fork to start our climb up to the lookout. Only a mile and a half to go. It was a decent pace I’m happy to say that being a slower hiker nobody past me at this point. I mean I would look back on the trail and it was a steady stream of head lamps. Seriously looked like a busy highway.

I will definitely say that hiking in the dark is hard. I have horrible eyesight. I need glasses but I’m being super stubborn about it. But I think had I had them, my hike may have been a little more pleasant. I did have a hard time with the head lamp and seeing where I was stepping. Although I was able to keep a decent pace without anyone wanting to get by me. Thankfully because the trail is pretty narrow and that cliff side goes ALONG way. Especially in the dark. Just go slow and maintain a steady speed and you’ll get there.

Finally made it to the lookout. Just as the sun was making an appearance starting to turn the sky a faint color orange in the distance and allowing a little more detail to come out on the mountain. The weather was perfect. Wasn’t cold or windy at all. Which was crazy, least I thought so. Ended up shedding layers while sitting there waiting for the show. Our final time to get to the top was about an hour and ten minutes. Which I thought was pretty good for me, with all things considered. We got to the top and had about an hour to wait for the sun to peak up over the mountains, so we sat took in the stars, the view. Could literally see forever. People continued to pour in. By the time the sun finally made it above the mountains I would say maybe 250 people were up there.

The view was breath taking. Couldn’t of asked for a better day. The mountain was amazing turning many different colors, looking the opposite way the sun coming up and over the mountains was breath taking. The colors so vibrant and light cascading over the tips of the peaks highlighting their heights and layers. Was magical. I felt so empowered that I got up and did it. There were plenty of times that I had almost decided against it. Or turned around. But I am so happy I followed through and got out of my head. We continued watching. Had an early morning snack, I mean the view doesn’t get much better than it was. Not cold, no wind, no bugs. Was perfect.

Finally decided to wrap in up and head back as we had planned another hike for the day in another location. The walk back was quick and I really felt like an overreactor. The trail really wasn’t that bad going back. I just had a hard time seeing. And a lot of the rocks on the last half mile are like flagstone type rocks, flat and slippery so they do move. And I think that was my biggest issue were those. But we made it back to the parking lot in made thirty to forty minutes. Had to slow down a few times to let others pass that were headed up to the lookout.

Over all. I highly recommend this hike. I feel like responsible kids could also do this hike. In the dark or during the day. It really isn’t that bad. Cliffy yes. Narrow path and loose rocks. But I feel if the kids were seasoned and paid attention to what they were doing absolutely. Great views, there are mountain goats on this hike. We did see some just as the sun was coming up and on our way back to the car. I believe the hike in full is about 3.5 miles. So pretty short and very doable for any level of ability.

17 miles with our girls to Grand Park and back.

Got the girls up super early to head to the mountain for some hiking. We had a game plan on where we were going and about how long it would take to get there. They were all excited and down for an amazing day. Seeing the hike previous was a little traumatizing. Being up so high on a cliff crossing over snow on a narrow path. Had to promise to them that we wouldn’t be in any situations such as that this time. Which we weren’t.

Got to the park early. Was freezing outside. It actually froze the night before. The flowers in the meadows had frost on them. Could see our breath as we exhaled. The thermometer on the car heading up and arriving to the parking lot read 34 degrees. BRRR! Poor kids. Should’ve planned for hats and gloves all around. Madison brought gloves to play in the snow, since she seen the snow there a few days prior. She was at least prepared there.

Started our hike, went up Sourdough Ridge, headed towards Frozen Lake. Which still was frozen as the last time. Some of the snow had fallen down and into the lake making new icebergs. Took in the sights there for a moment before continuing on to what I call the split. Trail offers many different directions at this point. Left to the Fremont Lookout. Straight on the Wonderland Trail heading towards Grand Park, and left went up to the Burroughs. We went straight towards Grand Park.

From this point on it was a new hike. Never having traveled this part of the trail, or been on this part of the mountain. From this point almost all the way to Grand Park the trail went down. Went over a few snow passing, but they were nothing like the day before. They were flat so if one were to of fallen, you wouldn’t of fallen but on your butt and not down a cliff. After a few snow crossings we continued going down. Trail opened up to a vast and long valley. So many wildflowers. The path on both sides had vibrant purple lupin. So pretty and so so so very fragrant. Continued on our way down this extremely long hill we past an area that was home to many marmot. Had to stop and watch them frolic and play in a ravine full of large rocks and boulders. We spent a good ten to fifteen minutes watching them. The kids love watching them and we have to take our time when they come. Got to keep them engaged by letting them enjoy the wildlife.

By the time we made it to the bottom of the hill after our moments watching the marmots, we were entering Berkley Park. What a beautiful area. Made it into some trees, still heavy wildflowers all over, can still hear the marmots up the hill in the distance talking between themselves. The trail got a tad curvy and just around a curve in between patches of trees was a brown bear out grazing in the middle of the meadow. Just eating away at the grass and unlimited amounts of flowers. The bear was maybe twenty-five yards away from the trail so we gave him/her space while we watched from a safe distance. Didn’t seem at all interested into us at all. Even gave me some acknowledgment as I was snapping some photos. We stuck around and watched as the bear ate and meandered around a bit. Finally the bear moved away from the trail long and far enough away that we were able to continue on.

Changed our line up as we hiked after seeing the bear. Put the kids in the middle, Andy led and I brought up the end. Kept looking back to see if I saw our new friend I didn’t. So figured we were going to be ok. Which was great. At this point it was still super early in the morning. Had finally passed someone going the opposite way on the trail. Made some quick conversation and let them know of the bear ahead. Made it to the Berkley Park camping area. Nice place. There were three sites there. One group site and two regular sites. There was even a wilderness potty. Was a nice spot for us to take a break. Girls love back forest potties. Beats using a tree.

By this point we figured we were almost halfway to our destination. There was still a lot of down going on with the trail, but finally we ran into some decent spots that were of a decent incline. Finally starting getting more views of Mount Rainier too. Which was nice because it was helping us know we were getting close. Went over one sketchy log bridge. Not that the water below was raging or deep, but the crossing was just old and logs had seen better days. Thankful that it was short or my kids may of called me out on this hike being a doozey.

Finally we start seeing the trees clear. The views are starting to open up. One direction we could see the Olympic Mountains and they were out so clear and big. Was an awesome view. By the time we had past that viewing spot we had come up to the trail head for Grand Park. Took the right to head that way and boom… Your pretty much there in Grand Park. The end of the trail was Lake Elenore. We hadn’t planned on going that far. As I just wanted a photo of the view of Grand Park and I wanted to feel its size and the vastness of the area. And boy was it amazing. Huge meadow. Let me tell you though. The bugs, this was by far thee worst hike ever for bugs. I thought Snow Lake was bad. This was so horrible. My poor daughter got like 25ish bites. Poor kid. Kind of came to the conclusion that she might just be allergic to mosquitoes.

Made our Grand Park stop a bit quick because of the bugs. That was a bit disappointing that we couldn’t stay longer. That long hike just to see it and go. I was hoping to chill for awhile and take in the view. But the bugs made it so unbearable. I’ll attach a photo that I took of Andy and the girls and the bugs are photobombing. Was kind of ridiculous. Plus I wasn’t ready to think about the hike back. Remember all the down? Well now it was pretty much all up.

Heading back it was a decent pace. Even with all the up and being tired. We did take a few breaks to rest and have lunch. Even took a break to soak my sore tootsies in a ice cold creek. Felt amazing. I mean the water was so cold it was making my feet go numb if I left them submerged to long. Wish I could’ve soaked my entire body. My knees were also sore as well as my lower back. This would end up being our longest day hike ever. The girls too. After our creek stop we stopped a short time later again at the camp ground for a potty stop.

Back at Berkley Park we got to see our friend the bear again. Was relieved to see the bear again, that way we didn’t have to worry about where the bear was. The girls names him/her Nutella. Because of “her” color. Again she didn’t seem into us. This time she was on the other side of the trail and we were able to catch her before she dipped into the trees and we lost sight of her. Wasn’t scary to see her go into the trees, because we started our very long steep climb back up to the split. Took me sometime to get up the hill. My feet started hurting again after having soaked them, not to mention my knees were on fire.

Got to the top and I was so relived to see the snow patches we past on our way down. Dropped to my knees at the edge of one of them and sat there a bit and let the snow help sooth them a bit. So happy I was able to find so much natural relief on the trail. Had maybe two and a half, three miles to go until we were back at the car. Finally made it to the spilt at Frozen Lake. Back to familiar territory. Was super slow going. Especially passing the lake, the dirt around the lake was almost sand like, super soft thick sand. My feet and knees were spent. Had to keep pushing. Only one more major hill up, and a nasty down. My knees weren’t excited for the down.

I was pretty much spent after seeing the bear the second time before going up the long steep incline. But I made it, we all made it. The kids did it, and they did it with pretty much no complaining. They had fun. We were so proud of them for accomplishing such along hike. Not that it was too hard, but it was really long. Seven-teen miles round trip was a lot to ask of the kids. I definitely recommend this hike. There are places to sleep along the way. There was Berkley Park, Fire Creek and Lake Elenore had campsites. Would make for less of a day than hiking all the way in, just to leave so quickly. Remember the bug spray. (It was actually recommended to me to use Permethrin on our clothing, after we did this hike. WORKS GREAT!)

Overall the hike was amazing. The kids had a great time, we had a great time as a family. Got to get in another amazing hike together. We accomplished something great together. I love being able to get out there with my husband and girls and see the beauty of our state. It always turns into a moment of Washington State History and a science lesson of some sort. I love letting them have a hands on classroom so to speak. Especially in these times of covid. Getting them out an engaged in health and fitness along with nature and where we live. Makes me happy as well as them.

Bench and Snow Lake

First of all… Don’t forget the bug spray. This hike so far this year has been by far the worst. Okay, wait… Almost the worst for bugs. Great hike. Not too hard, with some amazing views of Rainier, of waterfalls, creeks, wildflowers and lakes.

There is a lot of incline to this hike. Nothing to over the top but going to the lakes is a bit of a climb the whole way. Bench Lake comes first. Ended up just looking at that lake from above at the trail didn’t go down to the water to investigate. Wanted to get to Snow Lake as it had more promising views.

There were plenty of meadows with flowers. So many different types and varieties. Waterfalls on the cliffs in the distance. Flowing at the time hard enough to hear from the trail. Turning around once and awhile gave amazing views to Rainier. There were even a few clearings on the trail line that provided views of Bench Lake and Rainier on the way to Snow Lake. The trail was well maintained, easy to follow. Highly recommend for kids as it isn’t far or too hard.

Made it to the lake and the views were amazing. The water was so blue. Was clear, was cold and so majestic. Could’ve stayed there forever and took in the views. Went beyond the lake to Unicorn Creek. By the time we got here we had planned on a lunch break, but the bugs were over the top and I was getting super grouchy and was ready to go. So we ended up heading back to the Snow Lake for a few more photos then our walk back to the car.

Was a quick trip back as anticipation was no longer on our side. Past many people by now on the trail just heading up. Always a benefit getting up early and hitting the trail early on. Beat the crowds and the heat of the day. Got back to the car and we ended up having a nice picnic in the bug free sanctuary of our car.

Since we ended up calling it a day early up at the lake. We weren’t ready yet to head home. We ended up heading over to Silver Falls and doing that hike again. Never gets old. That blue water of the Ohanapeacosh River is amazing. Plus the first time we did that hike, Cheyenne wasn’t with us and I wanted her to see the amazing falls and blue colors of the river. Was a great time. After our short hike there we called it a day, went back through the park to get out and head home.

Scary moment on the mountain.

Last weeks hike is what I like to refer to as a doozey. Started out great. In the parking lot at Sunrise on Mount Rainier. We didn’t have a specific hike we were after so we kind of just walked.

Past the picnic area we went, up towards Sourdough Ridge. The quick incline was fine. Plenty of space, people on the trail, views were plentiful with clear skies. Got to the top of the ridge, looking north you can see Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan. They looked so far away. Hard to believe we just visited them. Turning around to look south you can see Mt. Adam’s and just to the right Mount Rainier huge as life.

Patches of snow remain scattered about some in shaded meadows and hills. Some on the trail. Made for a nice way to cool down. While it was windy and our elevation at this point would’ve been about 7000 feet above sea level. The sun was still hot.

Reading the trail markers and signs we continue on towards a ridge line that was obstructing our view of the mountain. Which became our destination. We would finally find out was named Burroughs One. On the way we passed by Frozen Lake, which it was just that. Frozen. Complete with blue waters and icebergs. Made for a fun spot to stop, take in the breeze off the lake and get a snack in.

Continuing on we seen two mountain goats in the distance frolicking through the valley meadows. Made for a fun sight. Kids loved it. Made the steep climb we were at something to be enjoyed. As we could look over ever so often to take in the sights of them. Took several breaks on this portion of the trail. As we did we watched the goats and we could look back and see Frozen Lake. Being that high made for great views of the turquoise water.

Finally crested the ridge. Was a huge vast flat area. Mount Rainier didn’t disappoint. Was huge. This was the first time I was this high and close on this side of the mountain. The views were breathtaking. Could see forever while up there. When we were headed to Burroughs Two another hiker pointed out the huge herd of mountain goats that were on the ridge far in the distance. Maybe 16-20 of them. Now that was awesome to see.

Instead of continuing on we decided it would be best to turn back and start our hike back to the car. Was getting late. So walking back we hit a connecting trail the Sunrise Rim trail that would’ve looped us around and got us back to the parking lot. We hadn’t been on this trail and it was amazing. To start. Saw more goats down in the valley relaxing on a patch of snow with the Emmons Glacier as their view and Rainier just behind them.

We have started our desent down the ridge. Where the worst happened. Let me set the scene. Here we are 2000 feet above the White River below. We’re walking a trail (goat path) maybe two feet wide. We’re now met with a snow pass. Its maybe 75* outside has been hot the past few days. Was clear others had crossed no problem, we watched others cross. So we go for it. Not prepared for the snow, thankfully we had at the least trekking poles to help.

Fortunately the group that past ahead of us was three rangers. They stuck around to make sure we made it. As we were struggling. Mostly myself and the girls. He walked back up and helped the girls down while Andy helped me. It was treacherous. I honestly didn’t look… I know what the ridge looked like, but while crossing it I didn’t look. For fear I would’ve locked up and slipped and fell. It was most definitely the scariest portion ever on a hiking trail that I have been on.

We managed to finish that crossing to hear the ranger say there was another one. My heart sank. Thinking maybe it would be best to turn around. But thinking about going over that snow ledge again. I couldn’t do it. So with hope the next one not be as bad or long we kept moving forward. The ranger stayed close as he seen in my face and the girls the fear we had crossing that snow ledge. Not to mention I now had the worst jello legs and anxiety.

Maybe a half mile and we were to the next snow passing. Thankfully it wasn’t as long. Still the same scenario, up high, on a ledge and its slippery as all hell. We let another couple pass in front of us sometime before and the man in the group said he would stomp some footprints in for us. As he did. Which helped. But I still managed to slip. And when I did my shoe broke. So it was super loose crossing the snow. Got across, the ranger asked if we were OK, gave the girls badges and went on his way. I ended up sitting down to fix my shoe and try and get my bearings back from the bullshit we just did. Haha.

The rest of the hike along the Sunrise Rim was fine. No more snow encounters. We eventually ended up at the Sunrise Campground. We have hiked around here before a few times in the past. We went by Shadow Lake and dipped our hats in the lake to cool off, was nice until the mosquitoes went on the attack. Now about a mile from the car it was a sigh of relief to see the distance numbers get smaller on the trail markers.

Almost back to the parking area there were many areas to view the Emmons Glacier and Emmons Moraine Lake, which was the most amazing turquoise. Such a beautiful lake. That will be the next hike. Haha. Least we won’t be up on a cliff. I’ll be sure to photograph our infamous cliff when we do indulge in the lake hike.

My feet finally hit concrete. Was the most amazing feeling to be back to the parking lot. Was able to get to the car for cold water and some substance. I feel like I burnt through every calorie consumed the last week with the anxiety I felt when we were crossing the snow. The snow portion of the hike was the pits. Would NOT recommend for kids. Mine are very well seasoned hikers and listen and do well with directions and I’m proud of them. They did wonderful up there. I honestly will never find my behind on the Sunrise Rim hike ever again in my life. Just for the meer fact that it almost did scare the s*** out of me. Definitely tested some willpower and strength on this hike. I feel accomplished for having done it… I will not do it again.