For my 61st birthday I decided to hike up Camp Muir. It was also a way to test out my new right knee replacement that happened on March 1st.
I asked a bunch of people to celebrate my birthday hike with me, but only Tao Song, Craig Schilling and Mike Curry took the challenge. We arrived at Paradise parking lot around 6:30 a.m. with only about twenty cars in the parking lot. We started up the trail around 6:45 a.m. and stopped after we crossed Icicle Creekâ€¦pretty much where the snow started. We had a snack and put on our traction devices before trudging on.
Tao lead the way to Camp Muir making sure she maintained a lead of 100 yards from of us tired boys. I have done this hike about 10 times now and it never gets easier. We all know what the last mile feels likeâ€¦pure hell. At least we had beautiful clear sky and a warm sun beating down on us, no jacket required on topâ€¦just a dry shirt.
On the way down we made sure to hit every snow shoot there was. I brought a heavy duty garbage bag and it worked well for glissading. After descending and a change of clothes we stopped in Ashford for pizza and beer.
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.
Enchantment Thru Hike Date: August 19, 2017 Difficulty: 9 out of 10 Distance: 20 miles / 32 Kilometers round-trip Elevation Gain: 5,200 feet / 1,585 meters (total gain) Time: 12 to 15 hours Location: Near Leavenworth, Washington Users Group: Hikers & Permits: Discovery Pass Trail Conditions: Dry Hiking With: Linna Freeman, Matt Kerby, Tao Song & Craig Schilling
Last Of The Snow
Kerby, Schilling & Freeman
Linna Freeman On Chulchuck
Matt Kerby, Professional Photographer
The Enchantment Basin
Enchantment Basin Route
Linna Freeman On Assgard
Freeman In The Enchantments
Enchantment Basin Route
Freeman Near Dragontail Peak
I trekked this brutal 20 mile loop last year, so I have a full understanding of the physical requirements and mental determination to complete it. So…to do again this year makes me a glutton for punishment. Team Punishment consisted of my lovely wife Linna, Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling and Tao Song.
We dropped off Mattâ€™s vehicle at the Snow Lakes trailhead and the five of us drove Craigâ€™s vehicle to Colchuck trailhead where we started our torturous journey at 5:00 a.m. I was totally surprised how both parking lots were completely full. Of course we didnâ€™t see much in the dark, but by the time we got to Colchuck Lake it was all blue skies. We stopped at the first big slab of granite opening which was directly across the famous Aasgard Pass for the initial bombardment of photos and selfies. We also took this time to scarf down some energy food before heading up to the pass which was nearly Â½ mile away around the lake. You start to notice the cairns around the lake and soon you realize how important they are and become later in the hike. Somehow Tao didnâ€™t pay attention to the cairns and found herself lost for about 15 minutes before we started up the pass.
What can I say about Aasgard Pass that you donâ€™t already know…2,000 feet elevation gain in 0.75 miles is cruel and unusual punishment to your mind, body and soul. I am sure I was having Mailbox Peak flashbacks. Some sections you need to be careful you donâ€™t dislodge rocks…especially when your wife is below you! We took a long break at the summit in a low spot on large boulders to stretch out our tired legs. During lunch, Matt had a photo shoot with us and a few goats. Matt Kerby is a professional photographer so you will see a lot of his photos on my blog.
The trail continues through the Enchantment basin / Upper Enchantments with numerous lakes and photo opportunities everywhere. We stopped and soaked our feet in the icy cold Leprechaun Lake before heading down to the Snow Lakes. Once you see the lakes at a distance, you realize that you still have a brutal descent down. For me, this is the most grueling section…but once you get down to the upper Snow Lakes it’s back on a half-way normal trail. Once you see the parking lot, you might think you only have 15 minutes left, but it’s a full hour yet.
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 itâ€™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.
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 itâ€¦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 wasnâ€™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.