Again liberated from the shackles of corporate bondage, yours truly and his other took 2 months off and made a grand voyage south along the West Coast and across the Southwestern US just in time for monsoon season. After an exhaustive tour in which we bore witness to an endless expanse of coastline, forest, desert, sandstone and pavement, we set our sights on more rarefied climes and zig-zagged our modified VW T4, which we dubbed Ellen after the town in Central WA where we purchased her, north through the Colorado Rockies. We visited old friends living near Aspen and climbed a few 14'ers along the way (Mount Sneffels, North Maroon and Longs Peak). We eventually made our way to Jackson, again staying a few nights with friends before resuming the northward journey to the Disneyland of the north a.k.a. Yellowstone. After a couple days of sightseeing in the park and rather lengthy soak in the Boiling River, we reluctantly began the long drive back home.
All told, our journey encompassed 7k+ miles in 61 days, 22 national parks and monuments, 20 State Parks, 21 Mountain Passes, 10 breweries and untold numbers of local brews, 2 weeks of daily thunderstorms, a 110-degree heatwave followed by monsoon rains, snow and everything in between. Days and nights were consumed by immersing ourselves in the sights, sounds and smells of the Great West and included countless hikes, scrambles, kayaking, biking and yes unavoidably also lots and lots of driving. En route we celebrated an important birthday milestone and discovered the hidden happiness in the simple life of a modern nomad. Simply put, it was exactly what we needed and a most fitting start to a new beginning.
Details of this trip and others, chronicled in far too many photos (and far too few words) can be found here, or by clicking the various States links: OR, CA, AZ, UT, CO, WY and MT.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
La Nina returns | Record breaking VN snow | Midweek Christmas Gully laps | WB pow X 11 | WB Heli @ Mt. Curry | 1 of 2 w/ NC Heli (WX approaching)
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Buckhorn Mountain - Big Quilcene Trail, July 2016
6988-foot Buckhorn Mountain is the highest in the Buckhorn Wilderness and ranks as the 23rd highest peak in the Olympic Range. It is named after the appearance of its twin summits, almost equal in height and which were apparently thought to look like deer horns. The route to Buckhorn's West Summit starting from Big Quilcene Trailhead isn't much more than 12 miles round trip and is under 4500 feet vertical. A good choice for those exploring the effectiveness of a third cortisone shot within the same calendar year, let alone having just recovered from surgery in the lower extremity.
Essentially a hiking peak, Buckhorn is a casual outing that culminates in a great view across the Dungeness River Valley towards peaks of the Deception Group just beyond. Other Olympic giants such as Mount Constance are also close by for your viewing pleasure. The high tundra-like summit ridge that extends from Marmot Pass over Iron Mountain towards Buckhorn is unique among the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and to me has a distinct aesthetic appeal.
Monday, October 31, 2016
Church Mountain - Church Mountain Trail, June 2016
A mere 3,900 feet of gain and ~10 miles roundtrip, Church Mountain makes for a pleasant day in the hills. Its modest elevation (6,315ft), southern exposure and short class 3 - 4 summit ridge begets a venue ideal for spring or early summer. Scaling the exposed summit block also offers just enough excitement to satisfy a long neglected urge to scramble. For me in particular it was an opportunity to test the waters after far too many months of inactivity thanks to, among other things, a frustratingly slow to heal ankle ligament injury.
The well-traveled Church Mountain Trail leads to a false summit that was once the site of a fire lookout. The views from here are excellent and overlook a verdant valley traversed by the North Fork Nooksack River with Mounts Baker and Shuksan rising prominently to the southeast. Continuing on to the true summit, one is rewarded with outstanding 360-degree views that are difficult to leave behind.