Rainbow Ridge, 08/13/10-08/15/10

After a long hiatus, I decided that if I’m to do a proper year-end post, I should probably first make a brief mention of a one-night backpacking trip we took in August with our friends Cameron and Casey.  They’d never been backpacking, and it was something we really wanted to introduce them to, so we’d long planned to go out together on the peak weekend of the Perseid Meteor Shower. With Nicole being pregnant—yes, that is why this summer was a little quieter on the site, here—and with a couple newbies along for the ride, I wanted something short, quiet, and with big skies.  Rainbow Ridge sounded like just the thing—if perhaps a little more adventurous than some participants might be expecting.  It’s a non-maintained trail…

A rewarding view from atop Rainbow Ridge.

Since we’re all now months-removed from the event, I won’t recount how we pulled off to the side of the road late Friday night to throw up some tents, only to find I’d forgotten the majority of our food.  Or our search for that side-of-the-road location.  But the skies from the side of the road that night were beautiful, and softened the blow to my ego a bit.

Read more of this post

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.

Read more of this post

Cathedral Rock, Sedona, Arizona, 01/02/10

We started The New Year off by flying down to Arizona to meet Nicole’s dad and brother and go to a football game.  Since we had a little spare time, the three of us—brother excluded, as he was arriving later—drove up to Sedona for a day to sample the Red Rock Country.

The drive up to Sedona from Phoenix went quicker than expected; before long we’d picked up our $5 Red Rock Pass and a map and were parked below Cathedral Rock.  We hadn’t quite made it before sunrise, but the weather was pleasant and the skies were blue.

Cathedral Rock, trail.

Cathedral Rock, from near the trailhead.

The trail itself is short and—aside from the beginnings pictured above—steep.  Let’s call it 1.4 miles round-trip with a gain of about 600′, all on the way up, of course.  It’s actually somewhat scramble-y, requiring the use of hands several times.

Cathedral Rock, with balloon.

Balloon, rock, cairn.

A pair of hot air balloons floated above us, drifting leisurely but audibly between the sheer walls and spires that the trail would take us to.

Towards Sedona.

The view north, toward Sedona.

Views were excellent, coyotes were crying, and the sun shone in our eyes until we found ourselves in the shade of the rock itself.  It was a quick climb, but quite rewarding.  We reached the top, sat within the supposed energy vortex—though the cold I’d been battling did briefly relent—and enjoyed the morning.

End of the trail.

Within the vortex.

Before too long, we were back at the car, where other cars awaited our soon-to-be-vacated parking spot.  We saw only a few people on our way up, quite a few more on our way down, and missed the inevitable hundreds that were to come.  I recommend an early start!

HIkers on Cathedral's ledge.

Hikers on Cathedral's ledge.

After the hike, we drove around a bit and then did a bit of shopping and art-admiring.  Beautiful country, if you can stand the tourists.  I wasn’t a tourist, right?

First hike of the year!

Stats: 1.4 miles, ~600′ of elevation gain.

As always, a few more photos at Flickr.