Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Boulder Mountain Hike

Last Saturday I hiked Boulder Mountain near McCall. Having never been in the Lick Creek Mountains, it was a great opportunity to see a new corner of Idaho. As is typical for me, I slept in and got a late start. After checking out the reservoir near the trailhead I was immediately stunned by the number of people on this trail... dozens of teenagers were backpacking out and I saw quite a few other hikers on the trail moving in both directions. Pretty high volume for Idaho where most outings result in seeing no one!

In less than an hour I reached Boulder Lake where a brief conversation with a kid resulted in him telling me I should hike slower and enjoy nature more. Perhaps he was right but that means getting up earlier - a total no-go! From there I hiked the trail around the lake under increasingly snowy and muddy conditions. Despite the conditions, there were people camped along the lake including some that brought llamas with them. Upon reaching the upstream side of Boulder Lake I ditched the trail and hiked the mostly bare south slopes of Boulder Mountain to the summit. The mostly dry terrain was a welcome respite, however near the summit I was forced on to some rotten snow that made me glad I went the way I did!

On top, I mostly had the summit and incredible views to myself. Not having hiked this area before, I was greeted with a summit panorama populated by many unfamiliar summits. More terrain to learn! Before I left four other hikers reached the summit... the one guy I talked to was from Caldwell. I thought about continuing on to nearby Jughandle Mountain but the low snow levels and late hour eliminated that option. Thus I headed directly down to Boulder Lake and to the trail, bypassing the snowy and muddy terrain that vexed me on the ascent. I should have ascended that way - the terrain was a little bit rocky and much more enjoyable!

After getting back to the car, I headed back home. However I decided to check out the bankrupt Tamarack Resort near Donnelly since I hadn't been there before. It's not every day you get to see a bankrupt ski resort! I found lots of partially built structures along with a general post-apocalyptic vibe. Quite unusual, but the scenery along Lake Cascade was incredible!

Trip statistics: 7.17 miles, 2418' elevation gain, 4:28h

Boulder Mountain Photos!
GPS Track

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jumbo Mountain Hike

After a quick back and forth of text messages, Dan and I chose to climb Jumbo Mountain near the South Fork of the Boise River. Dan had to be back in Boise by the evening so Jumbo's proximity to Boise and modest stats made it a good choice. We were on the road just after 7am and on the trail around 9:30am. On the way to the trailhead I had to take a few pictures at Anderson Ranch Reservoir since it was actually full and the views were incredible.

The trail started as an ATV track but shortly turned to decent singletrack. It climbed very steeply up the Jumbo Creek drainage and we were quickly to a nice meadow at 6000'. Instead of climbing to the ridge above Little Water Gulch we attempted to follow the abandoned trail along the upper reaches of Jumbo Creek. This trail proved to be non-existent so we gave up and just climbed the steep slopes to the ridge top west of the summit. From the ridge it was a very enjoyable hike to the summit through open terrain.

Despite not being very high, Jumbo Mountain has great views of the Soldier, Boise, and Smoky Mountains. The weather atop the peak was perfect - warm with a light breeze. After taking in the views we embarked on a direct but steep return to the car. On the way home we drove by the Castle Rocks since I'd never seen them before.

Trip statistics: 5.63 miles, 3335' elevation gain, 4:51h

Jumbo Mountain Pictures!
GPS Track
Dan's Trip Report

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sheep Mountain Hike

Last Sunday I decided to take advantage of the summer-like weather and bag a peak. Because I love to sleep so much I missed my alarm and didn't wake up until 9:30am or so. Despite this really late start I decided to attempt my initial planned objective, Sheep Mountain. After driving the agonizing washboardy and potholed road up the Middle Fork of the Boise, I arrived at the trailhead at about a quarter to noon. I chose to hike the peak via the north ridge, which looked like a much more enjoyable hike than the switchbacked route up the south face. My route was the longer of the two and with such a late start I knew I had to move fast in order to be off the peak at a reasonable hour.

I started hiking briskly and ended up gaining the first 1000' of elevation in 30 minutes... impressive for me. Shortly thereafter I reached the ridge and was able to take in the stunning views offered by this hike. It was easy cruising on the generally great trail (though it was motorcycle damaged in places) and I made great time. The GPS watch actually made for a great motivator for a solo hike like this - I'm sure I would've hiked slower without it giving me goals to achieve. Thankfully snow was a minor factor, only being present for the last few hundred vertical feet.

I reached the summit just after 2:30pm and was able to take in some of the best views of Boise Mountains I've experienced. Being my first summit in this general area, I enjoyed seeing the various peaks from a different vantage point. After spending some time enjoying the twin summits, being mindful of time I reluctantly headed back down. My descent was pretty brisk and I ended up getting back to the car just after 5pm. I really enjoyed this hike along the Middle Fork and hope to visit another peak in this area soon!

Trip statistics: 14.57 miles, 4167' elevation gain, 5:18h

Sheep Mountain Pictures!
GPS Track

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Vinegar Hill Hike

Dan and I were both available on the 5th for a hike. Because the weather in Idaho wasn't great, we opted for Vinegar Hill, a prominent peak in eastern Oregon where the weather was better.

We weren't sure how far up the road we could get but we made it roughly 7.5 miles in from the highway. There was more snow that we expected which wasn't a great match for the trail running shoes I brought. However the snow wasn't a major obstacle... a little bit soft but no major post-holing occurred. The trip was actually shorter than we expected... a rarity for a hiking trip! The weather was perfect and we both enjoyed the great summit views in all directions! Another fine hike in eastern Oregon!

This was also my first hike with my new GPS watch - so now I can provide super-accurate trip data. The things I do for my audience!

Trip statistics: 6.74 miles, 2076' elevation gain, 4:35h

Vinegar Hill Trip Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report

Monday, June 7, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend...ROADTRIP!

It's officially Katie's next Blog Post! Mark your calendars, everyone! And try to control your bladders & your excitement, I know that was hard for me to do while I was typing this.
Word of warning: this will be a LONG Zach said "to make up for all the blog posts I haven't made". Haha. He's a funny guy.

Ok, so last weekend was the Memorial Day long weekend here in the United States of 'Merica, and Zach & I decided to go on a wee roadtrip to Long Beach, WA, because we're a couple of wild & crazy guys! We left the Treasure Valley on Friday evening after work, driving to the lovely (um, boring) town of Kennewick, WA (about a 4 hr drive) to pass out for the night.
The next morning, we drove on to our old 'hood, Olympia, WA, to check out what had changed since we'd last been there 3 years ago.
We got into the Olympia/Tumwater area in the early afternoon, and drove around town for a little while, stopping by Zach's old workplace (Department of Revenue), as well as our old apartment complex and my old workplace (Cascade Billing Company, which was right next to our old apartment complex). The most shocking change we found was across the street from our old apartment complex, which (when we lived there) was all forested - the trees have all been cleared, and a HEINOUS-looking housing development has been built there. The "houses" (I use that term very loosely) have a great view of the area, which is probably the only thing going for them. As Dad always said, if you live in it, you don't have to look at it! To each their own, I guess!

After we got over that monstrosity, we headed to our hotel & checked in, before going over to our friends Joey & Sam's house, to visit with them & their 17-month-old adorable little girl, Cecelia. Once Cecelia was out for the night (uh, and the babysitter showed up!), we all went down to the Fish Brew Pub - Fish Tale Ales is an organic Olympia brewery with awesome beer as well as apple & pear ciders. We had a great meal (I had the fish tacos which had grilled cod with an awesome non-mayonnaise-y coleslaw on top; Zach had the beer-battered cod & chips, which he also loved), and we drank an excellent pitcher (or two! between the 4 of us) of their Wild Salmon Organic Pale Ale.
We then went to an old hang-out - a Karaoke bar, of all places! Sam is an awesome singer, and we used to go there a few Saturday nights a month to drink some beer & be entertained by all the talented (and not-so-talented!) singers...Sam sang a few songs, including Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecelia" - it was shockingly the first time he'd ever sang that song in the 17 months his daughter's been alive! We also got to experience what I think was by far the worst rendition of "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" I have ever heard...if I hadn't seen the words on the Karaoke screen, I never in a million years would have guessed what song was being butchered! The poor woman only knew 1 note, but she stuck with it for the whole song...good for her, I guess!
After that debacle, we called it a night & headed back to our hotel.
Sunday morning, we spent some time wandering the Olympia Famer's Market. We picked up a huge bag of amazing Washington State cherries (strangely, cherries are not the best roadtrip food...who would have thought?! heehee), as well as some apples & bison pepperoni (Helmut's German Deli in Vernon, BC has absolutely nothing to worry about - their bison pepperoni still has first place in our hearts!). We got a few (rainy-weather) pictures of the Port of Olympia (NYK shockingly doesn't have service to this port!), checked out Capitol Lake and then headed out of town, on our way to Long Beach.

We made a stop in the tiny fishing town of Westport, WA, and checked out the (busy!) marina there...the real highlight of this stop was seeing a (gigantic!) sea lion swimming through the marina...Zach tried to get a picture when it's head was above the water, but it was too quick! Mom, I seriously thought it was a silkie! We really only got to see it's head a few times, and one of it's flippers, but it was really long & very cool!

After I got my fill of Irish folklore & marine life, we continued on to our final destination for the day - Long Beach! We checked into our little bungalow. Please notice in the picture of the interior of the bungalow, that the short, white, open door is the door into the ITSY BITSY bathroom. The door frame was literally as tall as Zach's chin, and the shower head in the (tiny) shower was about the same height! We didn't include a picture of the bathroom but it was covered in totally retro mint/avocado green tile, and was so tiny we both had to be careful not to smash elbows/butts/miscellaneous body parts while getting dried off! It was an adventure!

We walked along the boardwalk on Long Beach for awhile, but it was pretty rainy, so we decided to go on a car ride to a little town called Oysterville, that our friends Karen & Shaun (from Olympia) had recommended to us. (sidenote: we would have visited with them while we were in Olympia, but they chose that weekend to visit Vancouver, of all places!)
Oysterville was adorable - a little "town" stuck in the 1800's, with beautiful beach-front houses, an old schoolhouse & an adorable little church with a steeple that looked like a lighthouse! Also, we definitely picked the right time to travel through the Pacific Northwest, because apparently the end of May is RHODO BLOOMING SEASON! It was absolutely insane & beautiful - rhodos were EVERYWHERE, and in amazing colours...some were so big they reached the 2nd storey of the houses they were in front of!
We ate some dinner (We tried some PNW oysters that were pretty darn awesome), and went to bed early, to prepare for a long day of driving on Monday!

Monday morning, we checked out Cape Disappointment & a cool old lighthouse...the terrain at both was really rocky & impressive! We drove over the (4 mile long) bridge into Astoria, OR, and stopped at the Rogue Public House as they make some of Zach's favourite beers. We had a tasty lunch - I had a grilled salmon filet burger, Zach had a $10 haute dog - no really, that's what it's called - with caramelized onions & bleu cheese served with a mustard made with ale. We also tried a few of their beers, my favorite being their honey orange wheat beer (it was too citrusy for Zach, but then again...he crazy!)
After driving around Astoria for a bit (and passing the school that Kindergarten Cop was filmed at! Alas, no sightings of the house that Goonies was filmed at), we headed over to Portland.
I made Zach stop at the Dave's Killer Bread store so we could pick up some stuff we can't get in Boise, and from there, we drove allllll the way back to Boise. this portion of the trip was complete with a HORRENDOUS driving experience in Eastern Oregon where (due to highway construction for what felt like 300 miles) the oncoming lane of highway traffic was separated from us by flimsy bendable orange marker posts - thank you, Oregon Department of Transportation, you supreme jerks! With the combination of rain, wet pavement, the glare of oncoming traffic lights, it made for some white-knuckle driving! We made it, though, and arrived home around 12:30pm.

Tuesday morning came waaaaaay too early, but it was well worth the great trip! Unfortunately it rained almost the entire time, but it was still a trip filled with great friends, great food and great scenery & views!

Phew...ok, I'm FINALLY done. Before I go, I'd like to thank Zach for downloading a bunch of great music onto the Ipod for the trip...and would also like to take this opportunity to point out to everyone that one of the songs he downloaded was MARIAH FREAKING CAREY. Yes, my husband who used to be addicted to hardcore heavy metal also likes to rock out to "I'll Be There". Don't get me wrong, I belted that song out at the top of my lungs (to his chagrin, I'm sure!),'m a GIRL!
I'm sure Dave will defend Zach's choice!

Ok, that's it! See you all in another 6 months or so, when it's time for me to blog again! Juuuust kidding...I know I need to do this more regularly, so you don't get a massive monsoon post from me every 6 months!

Oh, here's some pictures for your viewing pleasure!

Washington Coast Trip Pictures