Kalalau Trail, Kauai, 03/13/2013

Hawaii. Islands of my pre-adolescent dreams. After living in Seattle for 10 years, we were lucky enough to be able to go for the first time last February. Adelaide hadn’t yet turned one. And the spoiled little brat got to go back just after turning two. Seriously, it took us thirty-some-odd years to get to Hawaii for the first time, and she’s been there once for every year she’s been on the planet. At least this time her demeanor and behavior had improved to the point where we did a bit more than we could’ve the first time.

The biggest thing on my list was to hike at least a bit of the Kalalau Trail on the Nā Pali Coast. We’d glanced longingly at the trailhead on our first visit to Hawaii, but were content to enjoy Ke’e Beach that time—probably our favorite beach ever so far. Even with a so-so forecast this year, we drove from Poipu to the end of the road (Kuhio Highway 560) and tried our luck.

And we were lucky; the weather was better than we’d hoped for. Helicopter tours continually buzzed overhead. Constantly we soaked in views of the coast ahead and the colorful ocean below. Yes, there were a lot of people. Yes, I wore terrible shoes which blistered my ankles to the point that I have minor scarring. Yes it was only four miles total (two in, two out).

It’s worth it.

Ke’e beach from above, near the start of the trail.

Nicole with valley walls looming above.

Nicole with valley walls looming above.

That's the ticket.

That’s the ticket.

Writing this post has reminded me that I actually did get out on a hike the first time we were in Hawaii. I went with my friend, Casey. I’ll have to write that up, too. (It’s a bit off of the beaten path and takes you out along one of the ridges of the Nā Pali.

The next time we’re back in Hawaii we may try a different island. But Kauai will always be our first. We’ll return, and we’ll backpack this trail, too. I need to camp on the beach here.

Stats: it’s not easy, but it’s not terribly difficult. Don’t drown or fall of cliffs. This is a famous trail so I’m sure you can get more details elsewhere. The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook is a must if you’re planning a trip to the island, whether hiking or not.

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Talapus Lake, 09/24/2011

I remember:

  • parking on the side of the road
  • agreeable switchbacks
  • Adelaide sleeping in the backpack

I’ll defer to WTA for the details on this one. Cool?

Talapus Lake

Me and Addie

Duckabush River, 06/25/11

I spent the better part of a week in June all alone at home, with both Nicole and Adelaide back in Wisconsin, where they remained after the three of us flew out last-minute to visit my Grandpa in the hospital.  Evenings were quiet; I vacillated between missing my three-and-a-half-month-old daughter fiercely and reflecting on the time I spent with my Grandpa in my youth and as I grew up and moved away from home.

I did plan, though, on taking advantage of this time alone by doing something.  While a backpack sounded good in theory, I knew that I was out of shape, out of practice, and unprepared even as the weekend approached.  So I thought a day spent walking along a river would do well for me—I’d stroll along leisurely, set up my tripod liberally, and see how far I got up the Duckabush River before turning around and heading home.

A detail of the Duckabush River.

I like driving over to the Olympic Peninsula early in the morning: down through Olympia, up along the Hood Canal with the cruise control set just right until you begin passing through all the small towns with their pickup trucks driven out onto the saltwater flats the tide has revealed.

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Rattlesnake Ledge, 05/22/11

A couple of months ago, I got out on the trail for the first time this year–a friend is getting married and, though new to Seattle, he’s in to hiking; I and several other friends went out to nearby Rattlesnake Ledge while the ladies (and the baby) had brunch.

While I can’t recall too many details from the hike, I will say it felt good to get moving—even with the fast food sitting immobile in the pit of my stomach.  We set a healthy pace uphill (and it’s all uphill) until we poked out onto the first ledge among a dozen or two dozen other hikers.

Casey overlooks Rattlesnake Lake.

The views were great, and the ledge was frightening enough to stay back from.  After a brief rest, we continued on up the trail, as we all wanted a bit more than the ~4 miles round-trip it would’ve been to the first ledge.  In just a few minutes, we found ourselves on another ledge, overlooking the first.  Here we were all alone, and so sat down and enjoyed the view for a bit longer before continuing.

Looking down on the first Ledge.

Details after this point have faded into: much more solitude, poor signage, rusty steel cable, trail becoming road, and a fair amount of snow that found its way into spherical projectile form.  At some point, sure we weren’t ever going to arrive anywhere else, we turned around and headed back down to the lake, where we skipped stones and/or soaked our feet before heading back to Seattle.

Actually, I enjoyed this hike more than I thought I would.  The company helped, but once past the first ledge, it was quite quiet.  I wouldn’t mind doing it again sometime.  Maybe with Adelaide.  Maybe soon.

Stats: ~7 miles round-trip, probably, ~1400′ of elevation gain/loss, probably.  Probably topped out around 2300′.

Railroad Grade via Park Butte Trail, 07/10/10

I threw everything in the back of the Forester Friday morning before work, planning to pick Nicole up after work and head to the mountains. Earlier in the week, we’d decided to camp Friday night and hike on Saturday morning. It’d been a while since we’d been up near Mt. Baker, and I figured we’d be able to camp last-minute along Baker Lake somewhere, so I started looking into options. The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website promisingly categorized the Park Butte Trail as “partially” open, going on to state that meadows were clear, snow was in the trees, and snowshoes were not necessary. Furthermore, I learned that there were hiker-only campsites at the trailhead. Sold.

Bird in flight, Mt. Baker beyond, from Railroad Grade.

We made good time to the trailhead (I-5 -> WA-20 -> Baker Lake Highway -> FSR-13) and its large parking area. We set up our tent in one of the few single-night-only campsites set aside for hikers and drifted off to sleep early.

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