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.
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.
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.
Mailbox Peak Date: January 1, 2018 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, Tao Song and my Wonder Dog Macho
New Years Day Gang
Sunny Mailbox Day
Another Wander Junkie Sticker
Linna Wei On Summit
Freeman Almost There
Another new year and another Mailbox Peak on New Year’s Day.
Pratt Lake Trailhead to Denny Creek Trailhead Date: August 12, 2017 Difficulty: 9 out of 10 Distance: 13.5 miles / 21.7 Kilometers round-trip Elevation Gain: 3,600 feet / 1,097 meters (total gain) Time: 6 to 8 hours Location: Exit 47, Off I-90 in Washington Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Discovery Pass Trail Conditions: Dry Hiking With: , Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling & the Wonder Dog Macho
West I-90 Overpass
Beautiful Pratt Lake
Scary Tree Along Trail
I haven’t hiked the Pratt Lake trailhead to Denny Creek trailhead for about 13 years and guess what…it hasn’t gotten any easier. Craig Schilling and Matt Kerby joined me on this beautiful tough 13.5 mile loop.
I took off from my Fall City house at 4:30 a.m. heading down the hill to get on I-90 near exit 17…but before I got to the bottom I was picked-up for driving 65 mph in a 40 mph zone by the Washington State Patrol. I told him the truth, I was speeding damn fast, but explained the gravitational pull on a heavy S6 Audi especially downhill. Officer Steele gave me a break…a verbal warning! I was still able to pick up Matt Kerby at the Denny Creek trailhead at the predetermined time of 5:15 a.m. He left his car at the trailhead and loaded up in my Audi and then met Craig at the Pratt Lake/Granite Mountain trailhead and started hiking at 5:42 a.m.
Right before the split heading down to Pratt Lake we stopped for a much needed snack at the open area over looking Olallie Lake. We didn’t see any other hikers until the Pratt Lake Basin, some backpackers heading home. The trail from Pratt Lake to the Lower Tuscohatchie was pretty good shape considering the lack of foot traffic. The trail seems to get a bit rougher after Lower Tuscohatchie Lake with over-grown vegetation, large rocks and at times a very narrow trail. All three of us fell in this area with Matt probably getting bruised the worst with his knee hitting a rock when he fell. I went over a steep hillside in a thorny area….legs got scuffed up some.
Once we hit Melakwa Lake it was sprinkling pretty good so we decided not to go for a swim, but enjoyed our lunch instead. Our descent from Melakwa to Denny Creek Trail head was busy with hikers coming up. We spent a total of 7 hours of hiking, snacking, falling, resting and bullshitting.
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.
Date: July 22, 2013 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8.6 miles roundtrip Elevation Gain: 3,875 Feet Time: 4 to 5 hours Location: Near Verlot, Washington (Mountain Loop Highway) Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Northwest Forest Pass Trail Conditions: Dry To One Patch Of Snow Hiking with: Linna Freeman, Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling & Macho the Wonderdog
My Heart Rate
Freeman On Top
Can You Find Me?
Linna, Rick & Craig
The Man – The Pose
This was supposed to be our third sunrise hike, but the low clouds made it impossible to see the sunrise. The last time I was on top of Mt. Dickerman was early June 4 years ago with a lot of snow, today’s hike was snow free. We made the summit in 2 1/2 hours with a couple of tents perched on top….our group woke them.
We hung on top for 45 minutes to take all of those non-sunrise pictures, but even without the sunrise you have a 360 view of sheer beauty. On the way down we started to run into those Saturday morning hikers and the lot was full by the time we got back to our car at 8:30 a.m.
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.