Railroad Grade at Mount Baker

Since I work about one minutes walk from REI, I have made a few friends there over the last few years of frequent shopping and browsing trips. One of whom has been telling me about this amazing hike that I just have to do with my family! So finally she put us all into action and we planned a time for all of us to go so she could show us her favorite trail.

The trail is called Railroad Grade and is found at Mount Baker. It shares the same trailhead as the Park Butte Lookout trail, but after about 2.5 miles you hang a right until you reach another junciton at a massive ridge. Take a left and walk the ridge for a long time, but be careful and don’t fall as a fall could ruin more than your hike. The trail ends when the ridge does, at a climbers campground and near the Easton Glacier. From this point you are on your own to explore the mountain, snow, rocks and glacier.

The trail up to the the point of the ridge is a great trail with some switchbacks, river crossing, forests, meadows with blueberries and wildflowers. However my pictures start at the ridge. Below is Levi checking out the situation. The trail sometimes came right up to the edge where it started to crumble away other times there were rocks, grass or shrubs between the trail and the edge. Either way it’s close to the edge and you should watch your step.

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The fog was thick, but thankfully there was no rain and we stayed dry! Down in the valley was a river that had a cool looking suspension bridge over it. We will have to come back for some more exploring some day!

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Here’s our friend and fearless leader!

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Off in the distance and not the way we were going we could catch a small glimpse of some nearby mountain peaks. However Mount Baker stayed hidden the whole time we were there.

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We pushed on, often with Levi leading the way.

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If you like marmots then this trail is for you. They literally live on this trail! This guy seemed a little aggressive so I moved on.

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Hannah and the clouds.

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Going up some more!

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The Easton Glacier and some Fireweed. This was a spectacular sight and we all just marveled at the glacier as we don’t see these very often. In fact it was a first for me to see one as close as we did this trip. The kids most likely wont forget looking at the crevasses.

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After scrambling around on massive rocks we found a large snowy spot where the kids played for  a while before heading back down.

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The climbers camp was near our trail so we kept an eye out for it, but in the fog it was tough to see.

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Heading back down we decided this place was pretty amazing and reminded some of us of a place you would find in the Hobbit or Lord Of The Rings.

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We had an awesome time on this trail and it lived up to all the hype! I definitely will need to return to this again and maybe again. Even though there were a couple not so happy times with the kids, they both admitted later that it was a fun hike and they were glad they did it. Another awesome memory in the old memory bank and new experiences for the family. Thanks to friends who want to share their favorite hikes with us!

Adventure Date: September 1, 2014


Blue Lake

Last week we went on a road trip, which hopefully will evolve into a few blog posts. On the last day we stopped in the North Cascades for a quick hike to Blue Lake. The Blue Lake trail is a fun trail with lots to offer the Northwest explorer. At under 5 miles round trip and 1000 feet elevation gain this is a good hike for almost everyone!

Here are the pictures!

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Once at the lake we found the remains of this old log shelter.

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The Washington Trails Association requested pictures of hikers giving a “high-five” so we got a little creative.

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There was a mother and son who took a quick dip in the lake. Levi came close to dunking, but only waded.

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Loved the open trails with towering peaks along this trail!

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Summer mountain hikes are full of mountain flowers. Along this trail we saw many different varieties.

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I have been busy with work and play so this post is a little shorter than normal, I hope you don’t mind! Here’s to busy happy summer days! I hope your summer has been full of beautiful outdoor memories. If not it’s not to late to step outside and make some!

Adventure Date: August 3, 2014


Ebeys Landing, Coupeville and Fort Casey Day Trip

On June 30th we had the opportunity and pleasure of hiking the Ebeys Landing trail with Anna, the Hiking Content Coordinator for the Washington Trails Association. This was a new trail to all of us and it turned out to be a real fun time!  After the hike Anna joined us for some killer ice cream in Coupeville at the iconic Kapaw’s Iskreme shop and a walk on the Pier. After saying goodbye to Anna, we headed to Fort Casey for a little exploring.

To hike Ebeys Landing you start out at the Prairie Overlook, where we were please to have a smashing view of Mt. Baker.

Ebey set go!

This is a pretty mild hike with only a few little ups and downs with only 260 feet of elevation change. There was some cool fog out by the water and unfortunately it blocked our views of the Olympic Mountain Range.

Ebeys Landing Trail and Family

We briefly shared the bluff trail with a deer. No matter how many times I run into deer, I always enjoy them!

Ebeys Landing Bluff Trail and Deer

Between the bluff and the Puget Sound is a saltwater lagoon. This is a popular spot for bird watching.

Ebeys Landing Lagoon

Ebeys Lagoon and fallen tree

Descending to the beach there are a couple switch backs.

Heading to the Lagoon

Ebeys Lagoon to the beach!

The fog made the lagoon look pretty eerie!

Ebeys Foggy Lagoon

This trail is a lollipop loop and when we came back up to the fields we again got to enjoy the view of Mt. Baker.

Golden Field and Baker

After the hike we all went to Kapaw’s Iskreme in Coupeville where the ice cream is not only reasonably priced, but is soooooo tasty! With ice cream in hand we walked to the pier where we found countless giant starfish in the waters. The one below was found slowly crawling on the piling.

Starfish on the go

Under The Pier

Saying goodbye to Anna, we stopped for lunch and headed to Fort Casey for a little more exploring. No surprise we found more views of Mt. Baker!

Fort Casey and Baker

Fort Casey Looking from the bunker

The skies were clearer now so we also got a glimpse of Mount Rainier and the Port Townsend Ferry.

Fort Casey Rainier and Ferry

Another beautiful day to be outside with family and a new friend. I am always impressed and hope to never stray from this impression, that spending time doing things like this with family and friends is so valuable. Sure, there are other things to do that are important, but connecting with people builds and strengthens people.

Lately I have been musing on the thoughts that although I can be in my house with my wife and kids, it can be so easy to not interact with them. However, for me, getting out and doing something with them I find more healthy interactions. Hiking a trail, exploring a pier or a long car ride is often full of conversation. Granted it is not always sunshine and lollipops, but it never will be.

Adventure Date: June 30, 2014


The Return to the Triangle…

Ken asked me to be a guest blogger because, since I’m a teacher, I suddenly have a crazy amount of time to fill in the summer. I’m Ken’s wife, Hannah, A.K.A. Ken’s partner in all things outdoors! (Not to downplay the fact that I’m also his partner in other things like, you know, raising our crazy children and putting food on our table and shelter over our heads. But since this is an outdoor blog, we’ll focus on, “partners in all things outdoors!”) So, when Ken mentioned the Lake Ozette Triangle as an option for filling our long 4th of July weekend, I’ll admit, I was like, “Yes!” Backpacking is my favorite way to combine hiking and camping and the Lake Ozette hike is a flat 3 miles on boardwalk, then another flat 3 miles up the beach and then another flat 3 miles back to the beginning. Did I just say, “flat” three times? Okay, so sometimes (especially after crazy school years), I like easy hikes!

So…we packed up, headed to the Olympic Penninsula and took that lazy 3 mile stroll along the boardwalk to Sand Point, our destination for the first night. The kids were in rare form…few complaints (besides the slight incline our tween dramatically referred to as a mountain), quick pace and eager anticipation of a quick frolic to our destination to play on the beach.

Here’s Levi frolicking along the path:

Ozette To Sand Point Trail

The closer to Sand Point we got, the more raindrops we started to feel. What? Rain in the rainforest? Did I sign up for that?

As we arrived at camp the rain was still falling steadily but lightly (more on that later). Here’s our camp below. Note the driftwood shelter Levi created to keep dry while the tent was set up.

Sand Point Campsite

After we set up camp, it was time to explore the wild…

That’s me below, having an, “I’m king of the world” moment! (That little stream is where the freshwater stream, where one must pump water to survive in the wild, meets the ocean. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my best “partner in all things outdoors”, for being the king of water pumping for his family’s survival)

We made it to Sandpoint

My children never miss an opportunity to do gymnastics in the wild! From the mom perspective, the tween needs a little lesson on not letting her hair drag on the ground in the land-of-no-showers-for-many-days. (Speaking of hair, Leah is the only backpacker I know who actually carried a full-size – obnoxiously large – brush into the wild for this adventure.)

Backbending at Sandpoint

It’s always fun to see Sea Anemones when the tide is out! (Lots of tide pools in the area to enjoy!)

Sandpoint sealife

And speaking of wild…I’m not sure how to describe this guy who entered our presence while exploring. He ran down the beach toward us in his skivvies, waved “hi”, turned around and ran back down the beach. We saw him running down the beach again later – still in his skivvies but this time also proudly displaying a feather in his hair. At this point we had a discussion about how he was kind of a Tarzan-Tonto combo.


We enjoyed the peaceful beach and views in both directions.

Driftwood at Sandpoint

The next picture should be titled, “The Calm Before the Storm” because shortly after, it started raining and we spent a good amount of the afternoon in our tent napping, reading “Hatchet” to the kids and taking family “selfies” on our iphones (yes, we stoop to the level of selfies to keep our kids in good spirits). I didn’t mind the rain at first but should probably mention that it did get old and I, myself, threw a little tantrum the next morning when we had to pack up camp in the miserable rain and mud pre-coffee, while our kids pouted under driftwood logs and asked to go home. My husband learned a lesson in never packing up camp before making the wife coffee. I learned that maybe I should learn how to turn on the backpacking stove and make my own coffee!

Hannah on Haystack

Post the no-coffee-rainy-packing-up-incident, we endured our next three mile hike north up the beach. It was definitely a rainy one and we all donned our full rain gear for the first time ever on a backpacking trip. Morale was sort of low, especially after a few slips and Leah misplaced her camera. But it was hard to dispute the beauty and we enjoyed hearing a chorus of sea lions.

Sand Point to Cape Alava

Window Rock

After our rather wet hike 3 miles up the beach, we made it to our camp at Cape Alava. Our camp had a great view of the beach and was complete with a rope swing made of beach debris (washed up ropes and buoys), which allowed the kids hours of fun and fighting!

Tent View Cape Alava

Levi and I walked around the Island below quickly and dramatically, keeping our eyes on the tide coming in the whole time. We enjoyed many conversations about what we’d do if the tide came in and we found ourselves stranded on the island. Those kinds of conversations are what I love about taking my kids into nature. So much, “scope for the imagination” as Anne of Green Gables would say.

Canonball Island

Beautiful seascapes abound in this part of the region! (But don’t look too close or you might notice the thick kelp/seaweed beds covered in obnoxious sand fleas that are so abundant you can actually hear popping and jumping sounds all around if you are close!)

Reflections at Cape Alava

Cape Alava

To end our journey, the following pictures are a look at “time out” in the wild, as our children worked through the issues brought forth by only having one great rope swing and two children.

Levi Through The Smoke

Leah Cape Alava

While rainy and miserable at times, we still enjoy every opportunity to explore nature with the kids…and it helped that this particular trip was followed by burgers and a 3-hour soak in Sol Duc Hot Springs!

Adventure Date: July 3-5, 2014