West Coast Trail 2019

We went on a week-long backpacking trek on the West Coast Trail in the Pacific Rim National Park, in British Columbia, Canada.  This famous trail is a difficult-but-rewarding trek upon the beach and through the rain forest, along the Straight of Juan de Fuca on the southern coast of Vancouver Island.  Over the 75 kilometers of trail and beach, we faced many fun challenges, such as 70 wooden ladders climbing hundreds of feet up (and down) steep bluffs, four hand-pulled cable cars spanning wide rivers, two boat rides across even wider rivers, 130 bridges, slippery rocks, mossy logs, muddy bogs, and uncountable wooden walkways in various stages of decay.  We saw wild bears, several snakes, a bald eagle, flocks of sea birds, breaching whales, spawning salmon, tidepools full of marine life, and islands covered with ornery sea lions.  We camped on the beach every night, and lit fires from sea-bleached driftwood.  The weather ranged from magically foggy in the morning to warm sunny afternoons, and on our final night (and day) it rained and rained, behaving exactly like the Pacific Northwest is famous for.  All in all, it was an absolutely beautiful trip, the trip of a lifetime.

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Total Solar Eclipse 2017

We viewed the Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017 from the 7600-foot summit of Dixie Butte in Eastern Oregon.  To get there, we planned it so that we could drive south to Oregon after finishing our usual summer hiking trek up in the Washington Cascades.  To avoid the predicted traffic and crowds, we arrived a few days early and simply relaxed while camping up on the mountain until the morning of the eclipse.  Then we joined the Eclipse Party on the summit.  There must have been over a hundred people up there, and all of them had a great time.  Viewing a 100% total solar eclipse is a fantastic experience, and well-worth travelling to if you ever have the chance.

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Glacier Peak Wilderness 2017

Our big summer hike for 2017 was a ten day backpacking trek in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.  It took us two days to drive up to the Cascades in the State of Washington, but it was definitely worth it.  We hiked a large loop of about sixty miles, and climbed over fifteen thousand feet total.  All in all, it was one of the most fun and beautiful hikes we’ve ever taken.

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Colorado Hike August 2015

I’d often heard of the beauty of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, but had no real reason to travel so far, what with the mountains in my own backyard. However, in this year of historic drought, we sought greener places. We knew that the flowers and grasses would be shriveled and even the streams would be dry in August in the Sierra this year. The drought had extended north to encompass the entire west coast, so we searched for water elsewhere. And we found it: All those storms which had forsaken the coast had migrated east, to Colorado.

But I knew nothing about Colorado, except that there were plenty of mountains. So I searched online for popular hikes. I also narrowed my search to southwest Colorado, so we wouldn’t have to drive as far. The most popular hike of all was to the Chicago Basin; not only was it beautiful, but you also had no choice but to take a romantic steam train to get to the trailhead. Nice! But upon further reading I discovered that the trails were far too crowded, and it wouldn’t be a wilderness experience by any means. I looked nearby, and found another, less busy trail that also happened to lead toward the Continental Divide. Hiking a section of the famous Continental Divide Trail? Oh, yes. That sounded excellent.

So I bought the Weminuche Wilderness Trail Map, and made some hiking plans. I tried to leave it as open-ended as possible, with no firm distances to be hiked or places to camp, taking anywhere from seven to nine days. My only requirement was to stand on the actual Continental Divide sometime during the hike. True, we were a bit sad not to be riding on the romantic steam train to get to the trailhead, so we booked a motel in Durango for one night and reserved our tickets for the train ride to Silverton. We’d do it all!

Vicki and the Weminuche Wilderness sign on the Pine River Trail

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Catskills 2015

Paul and I got ready to begin our hike at the crack of dawn. We knew that it was going to be a very, very long day. Our plan: Bag at least three of the trailless “bushwhack” peaks in the southern Catskill Mountains. We’d do a fourth peak if we had both the energy and the time. True, the days are long at the end of May, but we knew we needed to start early or we’d be hiking back in the dark.

We began at the Denning Road trailhead parking area, hiking on a well-maintained trail toward Table Mountain. Once the trail crossed the East Branch of the Neversink River, we turned left (leaving the trail) and followed a fairly well-defined fisherman’s path upstream along the south side of the riverbed. Mellow hiking, not steep at all, and it lasted for four and a half miles.

After that, things began to get adventurous!

Downclimbing steep ledges as we bushwhack down the south side of Friday Mountain

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North Cascades August 2014

This year we decided to avoid draught-stricken California when planning our big summer trek. We reasoned that the Sierra had received so little snow the previous winter that the grass would be brown and the streams reduced to trickles by early August. We wanted to go where the flowers would be blooming, so we headed fifteen hundred miles north to the Cascade Mountains in Washington. After some research online, we narrowed it to the Pasayten Wilderness in the Okanogan National Forest, just east of North Cascades National Park. We would be hiking on the final, northernmost section of the Pacific Crest Trail. This felt right to us, as we’d been hiking so many sections of the PCT these last two years. It was like visiting an old friend in his new home.

PCT sign where it meets Harts Pass road near the Brown Bear Mine

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Channel Islands July 2014

Many years ago, Vicki and I spent three days cruising around the Channel Islands on a friend’s sailboat, and had a great time. We anchored overnight, but never actually managed to land and hike on any of the islands.

We decided to change that this year. After searching online about other people’s trips to the islands, we decided to visit Santa Cruz Island, as it had established campsites, hiking trails, and less bureaucratic hassles than the other islands.

Looking toward Prisoners Harbor from the Del Norte Campground

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Catskills 2014

TR: Big Indian, Fir, and Doubletop in the mist

On my annual visit back home my brother and I always try to get in a bit of hiking in my old stomping grounds, the Catskills. I used to do quite a bit of backpacking there in my youth, but not nowadays. My brother gets more chances, and is currently up to 30 of the 35 peaks, with mainly the bushwhacks left to do. Bushwhacking solo can be a bit risky (it’s hard to use the Buddy System when you’re alone), so he’s been using my visits as a means of bagging these last few peaks. And I’m happy to help!

Anyway, this year we decided to hike to the summits of Big Indian, Fir, and Doubletop (if we had time).

Speaking of imagination: I DID see Sasquatch appear out of the mist, but he vanished, too.

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Catskills 2012

Well, it had been two years since our last bushwhack in the Catskills, as last year’s attempt in early September 2011 was called off due to the too-recent devastation of Hurricane Irene. When we got there this September, we saw that some of the washed-out bridges were still being repaired on Spruceton Road.

We got to the Spruceton Trail Parking Lot before midnight and crashed in the back of the van, hoping that we wouldn’t get in trouble for it. Luckily, nobody cared. We woke up about an hour before dawn (it was just getting light), ate some cold breakfast, and downed some caffeine. We had many miles of hiking ahead of us, much of it off-trail, and the days were getting shorter. On our last bushwhacking adventure, we barely made it out by dark.

Today our plan was to summit four peaks: Three of them were bushwhacks (two of those with canisters), three of them Catskill 3500 Club peaks, one of them over 4000 feet, and one that really wasn’t an official peak at all.

Multi-Shot Panorama View West from the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower

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