Tag Archive | Pacific Northwest

COVID Diaries: Day 278

Today is the winter solstice in North America; the darkest day of the year.  On top of that, today’s weather is a relentless, depressing, non-stop rain…

For the darkness reason, it’s not my favorite day of the year, but at least it will start to get lighter starting tomorrow, even if the cold and rain will continue for several more months.  There is something about the light that is good for my soul.

What strange times we continue to find ourselves in.  People are continuing to suffer from COVID and its associated chaos, and I’m sure the mental health crisis so many are experiencing will continue to get worse in these long, dark, isolated winter months.

I’m tempted to just buy myself a whole bunch of presents…  I’m not usually one for much retail therapy, but as there is very little in social diversion due to the latest lock down, what more is there?  Luckily I did receive some puzzles for Christmas (early presents) so I’ll have some new challenging ones to work on!

And of course, I have plenty of writing to do here.  I still have my huge backlog of travel posts too!

End note: After I started this post before work, it started snowing!  So far it’s still coming down!  Since I don’t have to drive to work anyway, bring it on – let it snow!

Anderson-Watson Lakes Hike

Today, the fourth Saturday in September, is National Public Lands Day.  As designed, it is the largest organized volunteer event for public lands in the United States.  Well, because of COVID, many of the in-person events have been put on hold, but there are still virtual events that you can participate in – find them here: https://www.neefusa.org/npld

To honor our public lands, which I have been so fortunate to enjoy frequently, I decided to feature a recent hike.

August 3, 2019 – Watson Lakes
Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – 9 miles roundtrip

This hike includes the option to go to a series of alpine glacier lakes, including Anderson Lake, Lower Watson Lake and Upper Watson Lake.  This hike has it all!  You start out hiking through the forest, with multiple inclines and declines.  Eventually you arrive at a meadow and a series of boardwalks so you aren’t slogging through water.  More forested hiking then deposits you into an alpine landscape with beautiful views!

The lakes are amazing, with lots of rocky outcroppings and views of the mountains above!  There are some incredible views of Mount Baker, as well as huge rocks that were deposited by glaciers.  Lelani and I enjoyed this hike thoroughly, taking time at the top to have lunch and canned wine.  After resting up a bit, I braved the waters of Upper Watson Lake for an ice cold swim!

I’ll have to make sure to get back to this hike soon!

 

As for today – it is pouring down rain here, but I was still able to get out for a soggy walk this morning.  It’s fall, so it’s time for that reminder that you won’t melt!  I hope you are able to get outside for National Public Lands Day today!

 

 

Drying Out…

It’s been a stretch…  It was dry yesterday, and the National Weather Service is predicting it will be dry through Tuesday.  That is the longest stretch of dry weather in the Pacific Northwest since late November.

My city got 7.02 inches of precipitation in January, and had 27 of 31 days with measurable precipitation.  Another 2.74 inches of rain have fallen since the beginning of February.  Other places around the Pacific Northwest have had it worse.  Widespread flooding has wiped out roads, bridges and homes all over Washington and Oregon.  Trails are underwater.  Avalanche risk is through the roof.

A mudslide closed the freeway south of town for more than a day last weekend, and there were long delays for commuters as they only had one lane open for a few more days after that.  Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to head through there that day; I usually do.  Friday night’s rain was so heavy I slowed down to 40 on the freeway!  It’s a mess around here.

Thankfully I’m ok, as is my family, but I feel for all the people who have been displaced, and are facing huge cleanup costs to recover from the flooding.  They have declared a state of emergency in many areas.

I’m grateful for the dry days coming up, so the rivers and floodwaters can recede, and the slopes can stabilize.  Plus I need more days to get outside; my walk yesterday morning was beautiful!

 

September Do-Over?

September is generally a fairly dry month in the Pacific Northwest, with dry, sunny weather that lasts long into fall, even as the temperatures drop.  Not so this year.  Seattle’s monthly September rainfall averages 1.5 inches, but this year, we have already seen 2.77 inches of rain (as of September 23).  That was several days ago, and it has rained quite a bit more since then.  So we have had double our annual average of rain this month!

I’m over it.  Done.  I’m not ready to jump in puddles or scoop up soggy piles of leaves.  I’m not ready for the eternal gray dreariness of winter.  I want summer.  Or at least a dry, sunny, crisp beautiful fall.  I want to hear the leaves crunch under my feet and see a blue sky above.  I want to feel the crisp air without raindrops soaking through my clothes.  Is that too much to ask?

To make it perfectly clear….

This.

Not This…

November Sunrise

The weather around here has been pretty poor lately.  The usual Northwest fall/winter blend of heavy rain and high winds.  But when the weather does clear, it makes for some beautiful sunrises, like this one from my bedroom window on November 6.

November Sunrise

 

I hope you all survived Thanksgiving and are having a smooth week…

Monte Cristo Hike

July 15, 2017

In July, I went on another hike I’d never done before, an 8 mile round-trip hike over a relatively flat route to a gold and silver mining site.  The ghost town of Monte Cristo.

Between 1890 and 1907, Monte Cristo experienced a huge boom, growing to over 1,000 people at its peak, with 13 active mines and 211 active mining claims.  It was the first mine site on the west side of the Cascade Mountain range.  John D. Rockefeller took an interest in the site and for a period of time Frederick Trump, grandfather of President Trump, operated a boom-town hotel and brothel there.

At first the town and the mines were profitable, but over-estimates of the ground’s ore potential and frequent floods took their toll.  Most of the ore was near the surface; it was rarely profitable to go more than 500 feet down below the surface.  The river also flooded several times, requiring expensive repairs to the road and the railroad line in order to keep the ore flowing out to the smelter.

After mining operations ceased in 1907, for several decades there were attempts to keep the town going as a resort destination, with only limited success.  The county road to Monte Cristo was flooded in 1980 and not rebuilt, and the only remaining business, a lodge, burned down in 1983.  Monte Cristo is a ghost town today. A few original buildings and relics remain, as well as several more cabins from the various resort town efforts. The forests have grown back, so it is tough to imagine the bare hillsides with tramways and men bringing ore down from the steep mountains.

The route follows most of the old route taken by the miners over a century ago.  Floods over the years have washed out the road alongside the South Fork of the Sauk River.  The hike starts at the Barlow Pass trailhead on the North Cascades – Mountain Loop Highway and travels along the road for about 4 miles. You have to cross over the river on a large fallen tree at one point, but it is wide and flat enough that it doesn’t feel treacherous.

A view of the mountains on the hike in

There is a slight incline the entire way, with a total elevation gain of 700 feet to a final elevation of 2,800 feet.  The scenery is stunning, with the shallow river showing its rocky bed, and the craggy mountains above.  The 8 miles are pretty easy miles as long as you can handle the distance.

A Wiggin’s Lily at Monte Cristo

Once in the town it was fun to just wander around, seeing the old cabins and reading the signs showing where other buildings used to be.  There has been some remediation done in the area, in order to clean up the heavy metals that still exist in the mine tailings.  There is still a lot more work to be done, so they recommend you don’t drink the water there, or at a minimum filter it.

There is a pack-in campsite; it looks like a fun place to stay the night and explore the town.  I wonder if there are ghosts!

Rain, rain… Enough already…

They say that the Eskimos have a huge number of words for snow.  Of course, that is a topic of debate, and Eskimo is an antiquated term now largely discarded in favor of Inuit.  But, my point?  Well, that may or may not be true, but what I do know is that Pacific Northwesterners have a ton of words for rain.

Precipitation, rain, drizzle, rainfall, driving rain, mizzle, mist, pour, pouring buckets, dumping buckets, spitting, raining cats and dogs, pelting rain, sprinkle, shower, deluge, pissing rain, torrential rain, drenching rain, light rain, heavy rain, bring the Ark over and let’s climb aboard rain.  Ok, I made that last one up – but I think we should start a movement and see if it catches on.  Whatever word you use, it has been raining here, is expected to continue raining, and I would like it to stop.

Last night I walked with a friend in a rain that alternated between a light rain and a drizzle, and eventually settled into a mist before it grudgingly stopped.  Today I went for a walk at lunch in a fine mist.  The rain is supposed to increase for the next couple of days too.  My walking clothes are all covered in a layer of fine mud around the ankles, and the house is filled with the lovely aroma of tennis shoes drying over the heater vent.

Please don’t tell me that we are having a mild winter here in the PNW, or that we recently had one of the driest January’s on record.  I know all that.  My perspective is my own, based on nothing other than the fact that several pairs of my gloves are wet and I have been constantly wiping my glasses.  Even when it isn’t raining, the sky is gray.  We are halfway through winter, and I am tired of the rain…