In which I glamp with the neighbors

Glamping is the portmanteau of glamorous camping. And my new favorite thing, or at least the RV version of it. Until now I’ve always experienced the outdoors under the thin cloth of a tent, but after tasting the civilization in the wilderness that is wine, cheese, Trader Joe’s appetizers, an actual mattress and a heated, dry place to sleep, glamping might be my new thing. This past weekend I went with my friend-neighbors Anna and Mary out to the Sol Duc area of Olympic National Park – an absolutely gorgeous corner of Washington state. Even the drive out was breathtaking:

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake

Fog lifting briefly off the road

Fog lifting briefly off the road

Gary the Mann took our picture by the side of the road.

Gary the Mann took our picture by the side of the road.

The next morning after setting up camp we decided to make an easy hike up to the Sol Duc Falls. We started in a light mist that progressed to heavier rain.

Starting out

Starting out

And then, was that snow? And then, omg snow! So much of it!

Covering the trailhead in a winter wonderland.

Covering the trailhead in a winter wonderland.

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What do you get when you mix a rain forest with snow? A mossy, cold wonderland:

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The falls were fairly close to the trail head – good thing, because we were cold and wet at this point:

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Overlooking the water

Opposite side of the falls

Opposite side of the falls

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Close up of the falls

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So cold – let’s go to the hot springs!

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Bridge over the river

Lunch was sandwiches complemented by bacon jerky and prosecco eaten under a 1938 shelter built by the CCC - galloping at its finest.

Lunch was sandwiches complemented by bacon jerky and prosecco eaten under a 1938 shelter built by the CCC – glamping at its finest.

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I wish I could show you how large this forest feels. The greenery is overpowering and my neck was constantly looking too far up to grasp it all. It overwhelms you what tiny, tiny creatures we are in this forest; how small we are on this planet:

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Mary and Anna

Anna and I

Anna and I

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You can tell you're almost back to the springs by the sulfur smell in the air

You can tell you’re almost back to the springs by the sulfur smell in the air

After our hike we spent some time in the hot springs that Sol Duc is famous for. I never quite got a picture since I did not want to take my camera, but here is a picture from the website:

The large pool in the background was 53oF (cold!!!), the smaller ones closer were in the between 98oF and 103oF.

The large pool in the background was 53oF (cold!!!), the smaller ones closer were in the between 98oF and 103oF. It was fun to soak while it snowed and then jump in between to get the circulation going.

All too soon we had to get home.

Kingston-Edmonds ferry.

Kingston-Edmonds ferry.

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When you wave goodbye to the mountains off the back of the ferry – the fact that you’ve had to travel over land and sea to get there combined with their perpetual misty cloak, makes the Olympics seem like a forbidden land unlike any other.

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Here’s to many more adventures with these two!

In which we visit the Ice Caves

I have been traveling quite a bit lately, so it was nice to have an entire weekend in Seattle for the first time in while. After watching Duke beat MSU yesterday (and we’re going to the championship!!), we decided to spend our balmy Easter seeing the Big Four Ice Caves in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National forest.

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They’re formed by avalanches off the mountain behind it and carved out by summer streams. Their position in perpetual shade means they’re there all year round – making them the lowest elevation glaciers in the lower 49 states.

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The caves and ice fields are actually pretty dangerous – people have died as a result of falling ice. Signage was everywhere.

People have died

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In which we climb Oyster Dome

We eked out the last bit of our sunny three day weekend on a hike up to Oyster Dome in the Chuckanut Mountains near Bellingham, WA. The difficulty says 3.5/5, and that it is “family friendly” – but for two out of shape city folks this trail proved to be a lot of uphill lung busting. Fortunately the views at the top of the Sound and islands was well worth it!

Finally at the top - view of the San Juan islands in the distance over Samish Bay.

We started a few feet above the water pictured below. Finally at the top – view of the San Juan islands in the distance over Samish Bay. Elevation 2025 feet.

Relaxing on top of Blanchard Mountain

Relaxing on top of Blanchard Mountain

Made it to the top!

Looking much better after some lunch.

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Much of the hike was through old growth forests

Much of the hike was through second growth conifer forests

Ghostly tree stumps reminded us of how large these behemoths once were before logging days

Ghostly tree stumps reminded us of how large these behemoths once were before logging days. On parts of the trail you could see old rusting logging coils left over (and harboring tetanus).

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Part of the trail runs with the Pacific Northwest Trail that runs from the Olympics to Glacier National Park in Montana.

There are only two really good places where you can see the Sound. Most of the time you're in the forest. Here was the other one besides the Dome.

There are only two really good places where you can see the Sound. Most of the time you’re in the forest. Here was the other one besides the Dome.

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Total length: 6.5 miles with 1900ft of elevation gain – whew!

In which we take a hike

Ever since the hike Jeff planned to Tiger Mountain State Park last summer (which inspired our Glacier road trip the very next weekend), he’s been saying that it’s my turn to plan one. We’ve been a bit busy around here so it’s taken me a while, but we were finally able to get out of town and head north to Deception Pass State Park near Anacortes, WA.

Pictures from our Rosario Head to Lighthouse Point hike:

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Bowman Bay

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Deception Island and Puget Sound in the background

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Lyrics from I and Love and You by the Avett Brothers

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Rocky beach walls

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Bridge over Deception Pass. There are no toll cameras per AMC's The Killing story plot thoug.

Bridge over Deception Pass. There are no toll cameras per AMC’s The Killing story plot though.

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Hidden cove

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Cloudy day, but we had a few peaks of sun.

Cloudy day, but we had a few peaks of sun and it didn’t rain.

Sandy hiking

Sandy hiking

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The grayness here is subtly beautiful.
We had some great views over the Sound and even got to see a few sea otters!

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In which we hike the Dungeness Spit

Forgive my lack of posts, I’ve been on a month long anesthesia rotation and maybe it’s long hours around the gasses or the 4am wake ups, but when I get home all I want to do is try not to fall asleep until 8pm so I can go to bed and do it all over again the next day.

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It’s been a wonderful rotation though, and I’ll be sorry for it to end. I’m on a week of vacation this coming week, so there is no excuse for me not to play a little catch up on the old bloggy blog. First: our little corner of the internet turned ONE YEAR! on May 21st which is 1) way longer than I thought I’d keep this going and 2) kind of a nice accomplishment. I should’ve done some great post about it, but well I didn’t.. so here’s hoping any future hypothetical children get a better first birthday party.

A map of all the countries (43!) where people have stumbled upon our blog. We've been viewed 4,142 times (4,000 of which are probably my mom).

A map of all the countries (43!) where people have stumbled upon our blog. We’ve been viewed 4,142 times (4,100 of which are probably my mom and aunts..).

We had originally planned to drive down the Pacific coast this week and see San Francisco for my week of vacation, but for a variety of reasons we decided that we’d use the time to play our favorite game of tourist in our own backyard instead. This weekend we started off by popping up to Victoria, British Columbia for a quick get away. We hopped on the Edmonds-Kingston ferry like the pro Washington ferry riders we now are and sailed over to the Peninsula.

We bypassed the huge Renaissance Fair going on in Port Gamble and first stopped by the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, home of the Dungeness Spit, the largest natural sand spit in the US (I know, I know, contain your excitement).

DSC_0388 It’s this huge stretch of sand, rock and driftwood that juts out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the passage of water that separates the Peninsula from Canada and connects the Pacific Ocean to the Puget Sound.

DSC_0385This hike is famous for its wildlife, especially its abundance of bird species. To be honest, I was in it for the seals, sea lions and otters of which we didn’t see ANY! Lame nature not showing up when it was convenient for us. So we had to make do playing around the driftwood ourselves:

 

DSC_0381At the end of the 5.5mi stretch is a lighthouse where we enjoyed a well earned picnic lunch. The grounds and light used to be maintained by the US Coast Guard but is now kept up by the New Dungeness Light volunteers who pay to come spend a week every two years on maintenance and giving tours. They’re a bunch of adorable elderly folks who were finishing up their week when we were out there – they even passed us on our return hike in their “Keeper Mobiles”. PS – you too can sign up to be a light house keeper, how awesome does that sound??

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From the top you could look out and see Victoria, BC – our next destination!

As well as the long hike back to the mainland.

As well as the long hike back to the mainland.

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After lunch we hiked back to the mainland so we could continue on our way to Victoria (nothing like booking a non-refundable hotel room to make you quick hop step it back so you can catch the last ferry to BC!).

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After 11 miles of sand and driftwood our legs were feeling it, but as far as hikes go this is a good one. And despite the lack of adorable baby seals I was hoping for we had amazing weather, which can be just as good.

In which I went on a hike

When we first told people we were moving out here the most common response we got was about the weather; the second was about how great the outdoors were here:

photo 5Sadly, save from a few outings this summer, residency has gotten in the way of a lot of enjoying the nature around us. I had a random vacation day a few weeks back and as luck would have it, it was one of the rare, gorgeous, cloudless days. The kind of day no one really deserves. I like to think I took full advantage of it and headed to Wallace Falls in the Cascade mountains east of Seattle.

DSC_0002DSC_0014The moss here is truly insane. When we first got here someone quipped to me that “I guess we have to put up with a little rain for all the green” and in my head I indignantly thought, “hello lady, it’s green other places and there isn’t NEARLY this deluge going on all the time”. This was the first time I was able to wrap my head around what she meant.. if I were instead hiking in February in the southern Appalachians, the ground would be brown and crunchy and covered in three feet of leaves this time of year. I would’ve been able to see far down the trail instead of only a few feet into the mossy curtains that hung by the path.

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Middle Falls

photo 3The hike has three main waterfalls and a smattering of smaller ones which make it an enjoyable 6.2 mile round trip. At one point towards the highest falls you could see a clear 82 miles to the Olympic mountains in the far distance, that’s how clear a day it was!

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photo 1We’ll have to get out on some more hikes as the weather gets better! Many thanks to my co-resident Steve for the great recommendation!

In which we took a trip to Mt. Rainier

Over Labor Day weekend we took a trip up to Mt. Rainier (pronounced Rah-neer, not “rainy-er” despite the weather situation up here). It was a gorgeous weekend, but unfortunately every other person and their brother thought it would also be a great idea to spend some time on what Seattleites affectionately call “The Mountain”.

I’ve had a slight obsession with this gorgeous volcano since I first came out to Seattle to interview. Before catching my red-eye back to Chapel Hill, Sandra Fisher and I took a walk down by Lake Washington and she pointed out what I thought were high clouds in the distance. Those clouds were really the snow capped slopes of Rainier and I was fascinated by a mountain that could be so high it had snow all year round. My beloved Appalachians in contrast only have snow in the deep of winter and the blanket is dirtied by the trees that cover their hills.

We visited probably the busiest part of the park – the Paradise area which is famous for its alpine wild flowers. Below are some pictures of our 5.4 mi loop hike.

This is my imitation of Maria in the Swiss Alps

Jeff is not as willing to reenact the opening scene of The Sound of Music

During our entire hike, the 14, 410 ft peak remained an elusive site behind clouds. The Mountain makes its own weather it’s so tall. Right as we were about to head out of the visitor’s center the clouds parted briefly for a look at her summit.

Despite the crowds it was nice to get out of the city for a little bit. Oh! And we saw a bear! I didn’t have a really nice picture of it, so nothing to post, but it was cool to see one. Don’t worry, we took a quick survey of the other people watching it and Jeff and I decided we could at least out run three of them. I was also really excited to walk on some glaciers after not getting to see any at Glacier National Park on our trip out here (that long delayed post will come soon!).