Japan Trip, March 2019

I think March is a wonderful month to visit Japan….perfect temperature for a big boy like myself. I flew to Narita and then onto Osaka where my good friend Moto Tanaka was waiting for me.

My good friend Moto Tanaka found a great Japanese restaurant in Osaka, Japan.
Delicious Kobe beef, it melted like butter in your mouth.
It only takes a minute of cooking over 100% natural charcoal.
My good friends Tetsuya Tokumaru and Miya Moto in Osaka, Japan. I have known Tetsuya for over ten years now.
“Somehow” I lost my Canali suit jacket at the Narita airport after I walked off the plane. But Moto Tanaka and Hilton worked together and located it. I was able to pick it up on my way out from Narita Airport in Japan. This is not the first time I have left a suit jacket at the Narita airport.
My good friend Tom has his own whiskey bottle at his favorite restaurant.

Winthrop Trip, February 2019

Our good friend Jim Darmiento was celebrating his 50th birthday in Winthrop, Washington and asked a few friends to come along. He rented Hazel’s Overnight rental right across the street from Copper Glance restaurant in the heart of Winthrop.

In fact our first night we had dinner and drinks at the Copper Glance. Due to a late night, we headed out snowshoeing Patterson Lake next day, followed with drinks and appetizers at the Sun Mountain Lodge.

Jimmy fell victim to a fast down slope on cross country skis, found himself face planted in the white stuff.
Paul Shinners, Jim Darmiento, Rick Freeman, Linna Freeman, Mike Curry and Emelie Espling.
Linna Freeman
Totally recommend Hazel’s Overnight Rental. Located downtown, 5 bedrooms and dependable fast internet.
Emelie Espling getting down in the tracks.
Michael Curry screaming for the love of life!

Mt. Pilchuck Snow Hike, January 2019

The cold air and heavy snow made this sweet basic Pilchuck hike into a cold ass kicker. Washington received tons of snow this year so every hike this winter has seen heavy snow pack. The winter route up to Pilchuck is steep and deep in snow…..but still very worth it.

This last steep part was the ass kicker. The look-out tower was only 5 minutes after this ass kicking steep area.
Michael Curry waiting on us.
Jim and Ione Darmiento
You had to crawl into the look-out tower.

Ione Darmiento and Rick Freeman
I finally put my jacket on as we got into the open….cold and windy.

Wuyuan County (China), November 2018

We stayed in the Wuyuan County for a couple of days, known as the most beautiful countryside in China. Located northeast of Jiangxi Province and near Mount Huangshan that we just visited a couple of days ago.  We were ending our China trip that started in Shanghai a week ago.  My wife Linna Wei put together the perfect itinerary for twelve days.The beautiful drying racks in the ancient village of Wuyuan.

Immense sea of golden rape flowers.

We are enjoying a wonderful lunch.

Harvest time.

Amazon delivery.

We stayed in the Hongcun village before and after hiking Mount Huangshan.  The 900 year old village is located in the historical region of southern Anhui Province near the southwest slope of Mount Huangshan.

We stopped here twice for breakfast inside the Hongcun village.

Huangshan National Park (China), November 2018

After a couple of days of playing around skyscrapers and dinning at fine restaurants in Shanghai we took a G series bullet train 417 miles southwest to Huangshan National Park. This was a relaxing 4 1/2 hour train ride. Also called the Yellow Mountains, not because they are yellow in color but the area renamed after the legendary Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) in 747 AD.

Linna chose November to avoid the tourist crowds, but beware it’s colder and you just might be hiking in snow.  We had a bit more clouds then we wanted on this two day mountain visit, so Linna and I already decided to come back.  Next time we will probably take the cable car up for a head start.

By the way, on your way up the mountain, don’t ask how much farther….because you will receive inconsistency replies from one hour to three hours.Huangshan is most well known for its remarkable pines and probably has inspired most Chinese paintings and drawings. Matt Kerby took most of these remarkable pictures.  

Stairway to heaven.

The most famous pine in the Yellow Mountains and probably all of China, the Greeting Guest Pine….maybe 1,000 years old.

Huangshan is known for its 60,000 stone steps, carved in the mountain. We might have hiked up 30,000 to 35,000 steps our first day.  We didn’t utilize any cable cars like most people, but we started hiking from the bottom.

One of Huangshan’s wild monkeys.

After 35,000 steps we reached our Huangshan Baiyun Hotel, yes…there are hotels on top of Mt. Huangshan.  I headed to the bar area and sipped on a cold beer as Linna checked us in.  After climbing all those steps, the private cozy room with shower was the perfect way to end the day.

The Enchantment’s Backpacking, October 2018

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.

Linna got a great shot of a local goat.

Linna standing tall on Crystal Lake.

Granite Mountain Hike, September 2018

Linna wanted to complete another fall color hike before the season was over and from the WTA trip reports, Granite Mountain was reaching full peak.  We met up with Mike Curry at the trail-head at sunrise and got an early start on the hike knowing that it was going to be a busy day on the mountain…especially on a beautiful fall sunny day.

The reports were accurate, vibrant fall colors decorated the mountain.  Near the pond area and the back side were abundant with thick flamboyant fall leaves.  We had lunch near the look-out tower huddle by some of rocks to protect us from the chilly wind.

On the decent we ran into hordes of hikers seeking the same pictures we took. Chloe Wei, Rick Freeman and Mike Curry enjoying another hiking day.

Rick Freeman & Mike Curry

The colors we were seeking…..near the pond.

Mike Curry, Linna Freeman and Rick Freeman loving Granite Mountain

Linna Freeman overlooking Mount Rainier

Mike Curry hiding from the brisk wind

Olympic Backpacking Trip, August 2018

My good friend Jim Darmiento ask me to join him and two other friends on a four day/three night backpacking trip that actually turned into a three day/two night backpacking trip.

We started that the Dosewallips trail-head via the River Road…also known as the gateway to the eastern Olympic Mountains.  The River Road is wide gravel road good for bikes and horses and it was a great way to warm the legs up with 38 lb. pack before picking up elevation gain.  After walking pass the Elkhorn campground we finally started to ascend upon the river valley.

After about 9 miles or so the first day we made camp at the Dose Forks camp.  The camp was pretty full, but a couple who was only having lunch gave up a nice spot so we sit-up our single man tents.  AJ brought along some whisky, but it didn’t take long for the four of us to finish it off.  We all slept pretty well the first night.Our before picture at Dosewallips River Road, only 40 miles to go.  Paul Shinners, AJ Soule, Jim Darmiento and Rick Freeman

We set up our single man tents at the Dose Forks camp.  When our group first got here, there was no tent spots open.  Luckily, an young couple were sitting on the log (in background) having lunch and asked if we were looking for a spot to pitch our tent and it was like “oh hell yes”.

Jim and I in the hut at Camp Siberia.  It down poured through-out the night….we stayed dry under the shelter.

Third day at Anderson Pass.

We finished our third day and last day with 19 miles with wet backpacks at Graves Creek Campground.  Total trip was 40 miles!  I want to thank Paul for carrying my .45 caliber Kimber gun on the last long leg.

Scotland Trip, June 2018

My first time in Scotland was 3 years ago when I completed the 3 Peak Challenge with friends and we started near Fort Williams hiking Ben Nevus for our first peak. It was my wife Linna that wanted to make her first trip to Scotland with a focus on the Skye area.