Fall is a good time to visit China, weather is cool and a few less tourists to deal with. We asked our good friends Matt and Shelly Kerby to join us in China for some site seeing and indulging in wonderful food and drink. We spent two days in Shanghai before moving onto Huangshan Mountain.
The Freeman Move on top of the Shanghai Tower, currently the second largest building in the world. Shanghai Tower is 2,073 feet / 632 meters tall.
Linna Freeman lighting things up in front of the Pudong skyline. I started traveling to China back in 2000 and at the time there were only two tall buildings in Pudong.
Looking down at the Pearl Tower and the famous Bund Street from the Shanghai Tower.
Looking down on the World Financial Center from Shanghai Tower in the Pudong district. At this posting date, WFC is the 11th tallest building in the world at 1,614 feet / 492 meters.
Sitting comfortably on the G series bullet train heading to Huangshan Mountain. G is short for Gaosu Dongche meaning high-speed in Chinese. China has the world’s longest high speed railway network at 17,000 miles heading to 24,000 miles by 2025.
Matt Kerby munching on Yodi’s hand from Star Wars.
The fabulous Pudong skyline with the the Pearl and Shanghai Tower standing tall.
Our traveling partners, Shelly and Matt Kerby. Matt is also my professional photographer.
Having cocktails from the Jinmao Tower looking down on the beautiful Bund Street.
Linna and I were fortunate to be asked to come a long on a two night backpacking trip in the Enchantments, near Leavenworth, Washington. Linna’s Chinese friends were lucky enough to win the lottery for overnight camping in the upper Snow Lakes near the core of the Enchantments. We met up with the other 6 Chinese friends at the Snow Lakes trail-head on Friday morning and started around 8:00 a.m. on a cool sunny day.
Our group chose the very South end of upper Snow Lakes, which was 8.2 miles from the trail-head with 4,700 feet gain. We were completely surprised how low the lake was, it was difficult scurrying down the lake bank for water especially after carrying a 40 lb. pack all day.
One of the Chinese guys brought a liter of Bai Jiu liquor and Linna brought a pint of Scotch, which encourage a lot of loud obnoxious singing that I am sure the other backpackers around the lake could hear but not understand.
We spent all day Saturday exploring the core of the Enchantments and taking a zillion pictures of the beautiful lakes and Larches. After a long day of accent and decent from the core, we were in our warm sleeping bags right after a hot bag of Mountain House Chili Mac.
Sunday was another long day with heavy packs on the decent back to the cars, but cold beers and hot bratwursts awaited in Leavenworth for us.Our home for two nights, my 10 year old REI Half-Dome tent.
We hit the fall colors at the right time.
The larches in peak season.
Rick Freeman standing tall in the core of the Enchantments.
Our friend Catherine Howe is currently living in the flat state of Texas and she decided to come back to her previous living area of beautiful Seattle area to visit friends over a long weekend. She stayed with Linna and I in our recently new address of Fall City after living in Seattle proper for 21 years.
She asked if she could fly us from the Renton Airport to Friday Harbor for lunch in her Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The Cessna 172 is the most produced plane in the world with over 43,000 assembled and is still in production today. Her plane is hangered at the Renton Municipal Airport about 12 miles southeast of downtown Seattle near the south end of Lake Washington. The Renton airport is where all new Boeing 737’s take off for the very first time after assembly, the Boeing plant is right next to the runaway.
It was a perfect day for flying, it was sunny and warm with a light breeze. We flew off towards the North and headed in the general direction of our house, in ten minutes we were circling our Fall City compound of 4.5 acres. After a few photos, Catherine put the heading towards Friday Harbor.
Friday Harbor is part of the San Juan Islands and is the only island that is incorporated. There are over 400 islands that are part of the San Juan chain. Friday Harbor is a small town of 2,500 people and mainly caters to tourist people like us. Catherine smoothly landed the plane at the small Friday airport and taxied to a visitor parking lot for small planes. After securing the plane to the ground, we walked just 10 minutes to the quaint little town of restaurants and boutique shops.
We found a perfect spot for lunch over-looking the ferry boats coming in and the many tourists walking by. After lunch we departed and headed straight for the Renton airport…what a fabulous day.
Mailbox Peak Date: July 30, 2017 Difficulty: 9 out of 10 Distance: 5.3 miles / 8.4 Kilometers round-trip Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet / 1,219 meters Time: 4 to 5 hours Location: Near North Bend, Washington Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Discovery Pass Trail Conditions: Dry Hiking With: Linna Freeman, Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling and my Wonderdog Macho
Mailbox Peak Glow
Schilling & Freeman
My third trip to the famous Mailbox Peak and my fourth sunrise hike this year. Linna and I woke up at 1:15 a.m. this morning to meet Matt Kerby and Craig Schilling at the Mailbox Peak lower parking lot at 2:45 a.m. and started hiking the old trail at 3:04 a.m.
If you think it’s tough staying on the trail during the day, it’s worse in middle of night. Craig got a little behind in the group and found himself off-trail so he started hiking straight up to our lights that was illuminating from our headlamps. The white diamonds sporadically located in the trees came in useful…they would shine like stars once your headlamp hit them.
We made it up in 2 1/2 hours and even had to wait for the sun to show it’s face. We had the summit, sunrise and the mailbox to ourselves until we had our fill. We headed back the same way as we came up…old trail baby. I have descended the new longer trail and it just feels forever and I rather get the pain over with on the shorter steep old trail.
Camp Muir Date: July 12, 2017 Difficulty: 9 out of 10 Distance: 9 Miles / 14.5 Kilometers Round-trip Elevation Gain: 4,700 Feet / 1,433 Meters Time: 6 to 7 hours Location: Near Ashford, Washington Users Group: Hikers / Climbers Only Permits: National Park Pass Trail Conditions: Dry to Snowpack Hiking With: Matt Kerby
Approaching Camp Muir
Just Getting Started
Helicopter Hauling Trash
Marmots In Heat
Marmots Getting It On
Kerby & Freeman
Camp Muir In The Background
6:30 A.M. In The Parking Lot
The last time I hiked up to Camp Muir was 4 years ago so it was time to knock it off again. Plus…I was looking for something big to do locally for my 57th birthday. I asked my good friend Matt Kerby to join me on my birthday hike. I picked up Matt in Bellevue at 4:00 a.m. and we made it to the Paradise Parking lot by 6:15 a.m. There was only maybe 12 to 15 vehicles in the upper parking lot…good timing on our part.
We started at 6:50 on Skyline Trail and finally hit constant snow near Glacier Vista where we ended up putting on our hiking spikes. I have been using these mini-crampons for most of my winter hiking, but I will probably bring my full size crampons next time for extra grip on the Camp Muir snowfield.
This was maybe my 10th time on Muir and it’s always the same…tough and real tough. I always pick sunny days for the photos and safety factor, but with sun brings heat and sunburns. I was wearing full length pants and a long sleeve shirt to reduce the need to lather up on sunscreen all over except for my face.
Matt and I are both strong hikers but it still took us 3 hours and 45 minutes to reach Camp Muir, we wasn’t in a hurry and we took many water/snack breaks along the way. We took our time on top…lunching, bullshitting and taking random photos. The climbing teams must have hired a helicopter to haul trash/empty fuel canisters…it was cool to see a copter up a 10,000 foot mountain.
We got back to the car in 2 ½ hours and left the parking lot around 2:30 p.m. We skipped the Paradise Inn beer because I told Matt that Linna wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t get back home by 5:30 p.m. She was having my birthday dinner at the house with 2 other couples. Well…I had no idea that she was throwing me a surprise birthday party and Matt was in on it. Matt made sure he was keeping me on track for time…there was a bunch of people at the house waiting for us.
Scorpion Mountain Date: July 4, 2017 Difficulty: 6 out of 10 Distance: 8 miles / 12.9 Kilometers round-trip Elevation Gain: 2,650 feet / 808 meters Time: 5 to 6 hours Location: Near Skykomish, Washington Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Northwest Forest Pass Required Trail Conditions: Dry to a few snow patches on summit Hiking With: Linna Freeman, Rick Freeman, Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling, Tao Song & Macho
Valley Of Lillies
Beautiful Mt. Stuart
Last Bit Of Snow
Scorpion Mountain Location
Vast Amounts Of Wild Bells
For our July 4th celebration we started our day hiking a new trail off of highway 2 near Skykomish, Washington. I usually hike the I-90 hikes out of Seattle, but when I invite my wife I know it’s a pre-requisite to come up with a new hike to entice her to come out. Scorpion Mountain was a new hike for us and we were blessed with a sunny warm July 4th without the crowd. We invited our good friends Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling and Tao Song to share this quiet beautiful hike.
This is not your typical off the exit I-90 hike, it takes some driving time and effort. After getting off of highway 2, you have 7 miles of a narrow paved road onto a narrower overgrown dirt-road for another 6 miles up the mountain. We only had two groups ahead of us when we started, but managed to pass them to have full access to the summit to ourselves. This hike has a gain of 2,500 feet, but after reaching the Sunrise Mountain you descend over 200 feet to only ascend again to summit Scorpion…making this trek a bit more difficult.
Before reaching the summit of glacier lilies and a couple of large mounds of snow you get to hike through a mature forest and alpine meadows. You have a 360 view on top with Glacier Peak, Spire, El Capitan and the top of Rainier showing.
Linna and I ended our hike with some delicious Korean BBQ at Blue Ginger in Bellevue, Washington.
Bandera Mountain Date: June 30, 2017 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8 miles / 12.88 kilometers round-trip Elevation Gain: 3,400 feet / 1,036 meters Time: 5 to 6 hours Location: Exit 45, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Discovery Pass Required Trail Conditions: Dry to the top Hiking With: Linna Freeman, Matt Kerby & Macho the Dog Wonder
Colors Colors Colors
Freeman In Bear Grass
Matt Kerby Over I-90
Macho The Dog Wonder
Linna On The Prowl
Kerby & Freeman
My wife Linna made a lifetime goal of 100 sunrise hikes…after today we will only need 98 more! We met up with Matt Kerby at the local Home Depot at 2:00 a.m. and loaded everything into his new SUV. We started at the trail-head at 2:45 a.m. and reached the summit in 2 hours…which means we had actually had to wait for the sunrise for 30 minutes.
It was perfect weather through-out the morning, but the mosquitoes were so nasty it affected your movements. I put on my jacket so only my face was shown, I came down the mountain with only one bite. Matt ended up with a couple of welts on both sides of his forehead.
It’s a good feeling when you are descending down the mountain heading back to the car and it’s only seven in the morning and seeing people heading up wondering…what the hell.
Granite Mountain Date: May 27, 2017 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8.6 miles / 13.8 Kilometers round-trip Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet / 1,158 meters Time: 5 to 6 hours Location: Exit 47, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Northwest Forest Pass Required Trail Conditions: Dry to Snow Packed Hiking With: Mike Curry, Linna Freeman, Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling, Tao Song & Macho
Curry, Kerby, Freeman & Schilling
Linna With Sunrise
Sunrise On Mt. Rainier
Macho The Dog Wonder
Seven of us decided that getting up at 1:00 a.m. to summit Granite Mountain to see the sunrise would be worth it…and we were right. Our group consisted of Mike Curry, Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling, Tao Song and my wife Linna Freeman. This will be the first sunrise hike for most of us and probably the earliest start for a hike too.
I am not sure how we decided on Granite Mountain for a sunrise hike, but we all knew they would be a lot of snow on top left over from a very wet/snowy winter. After reading the WTA trip reports, the avalanche conditions were minimal and post holing wasn’t an issue. We had to be a bit more cautious on the snow when it started to open up on top, there were numerous foot trails going in different directions, but I have been up Granite so many times I had a good feel for our direction to the summit.
Matt Kerby reached the summit in time to snap some beautiful sunrise pictures, some of the photos posted will be his art. There were many groups coming up as we were descending and by the time we got back to the parking lot it was nearly full.
Craig and Tao invited us back to their house for breakfast. Of course when we got back home Linna and I took a long nap.
The last time I was in Spain was maybe 16 years ago….when camera’s were still using film and where my camera was stolen along with my film. We invited John Biltucci and his wife XiuYun Jiang for this short 8 day trip visiting Barcelona, Madrid and Segovia. This was their first trip to Spain…and Linna’s too.