Saturday, July 30, 2011

23 May 2011 Picnic at Your Own Risk?

The snow melt and heavy spring rains left the rivers at Confluence State Park really high. At the picnic and beach, tables and benches were well into the water. We spent a quiet evening walking this attractive park after the first day of the audit was completed.

Friday, July 29, 2011

22 May 2011 Cle Elum to Wenatchee

Douglas Munro is the only member of the US Coast Guard to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Signalman First Class Munro sacrificed his life at Guadalcanal in WWII to provide cover for Marines pinned on the beach. This hero is buried in Cle Elum.

The Milwaukee Road passed through Cle Elum on the way to Seattle and Tacoma. Stories are told of the amazing parties held on the last car of the train where people would spend the ride sitting on the platform of the last car watching the mountains as they passed by.

The depot has been restored to its former glory and must have been quite a scene in the railroad days.

It was a day of sun, wildflowers, and beautiful rivers.

21 May 2011 Snoqualmie Pass and the APE Cache

This was the day for us to find the last cache of the Triad and actually get to hike along Snoqualmie Pass. Since it was the end of May, I had not bothered to pack any warm clothes. Ali was prepared to hit a cold trail, and I was brave enough to try. She was smarter though and quietly routed me to the parking lot of an REI store and suggested since we were there I might as well get something warmer. ;-)

I settled on a fleece jacket and we were on our way. When we reached the parking area below the pass, the car thermometer read 46 degrees. Do I really have to tell her how smart she was to route me to REI before we left?

The trail was awesome. It was a great walk up to the pass with snow, roaring streams, and spring wildflowers. We grabbed a find on the largest container I have ever seen and made our way to the old rail bed.

By the time we reached the rail bed, there was more snow on the ground, intermittent rain, and really low elevation clouds.

As we were walking out, we were surprised by a couple returning who said the tunnel entrance was open. We had expected the entire tunnel to be closed until late summer as they made repairs. We stopped for the APE cache and all others on the way before finally reaching an open tunnel entrance. I misbehaved and walked a good ways into the tunnel. It was incredible. I really wanted to try the whole walk (although I found out later that would not have been a good idea).

Ali is that you?

After we found all the hides on the trail up to the tunnel, we headed back to the trail head and decided to make an attempt at reaching Lake Annette. After climbing over the remains of an avalanche, we made it to the cache at the Avalanche Shack. While we were there a local came along the trail from the other direction. He had been on the trail for almost seven hours with an attempt to reach Lake Annette. After speaking with him for a bit, we sadly realized that visiting Lake Annette would not be part of this journey.

Remains of an avalanche.

After leaving the pass, we returned to the nature trail starting near the parking area and walked that trail. The western version of skunk cabbage is a very showy flower. We enjoyed the majestic cedars that lined the trails.

Mountains, Snow, and Fog ruled the day...

We cached our way to the Hyak Trailhead and tried to approach the tunnel from that direction. It was here that I learned an attempt to walk the tunnel would have been a folly.

The snow was much deeper at Hyak and the day had become even grayer. We tried for a couple last finds along the pass heading away from the tunnel and finally surrendered to the deeper snow.

It was an amazing day. Little did we know that we would be one of the last finders of the APE Cache.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

20 May 2011 Portland to Seattle

We liked Portland and decided to stop and walk around the city before making our return to the Portland area. Like so many towns the nice buildings and architecture don't photograph well during the busy daytime streets and with the crowding of new buildings.

The Pod sculpture from 2002 is a fun piece that pivots around in the base.

Mill End Park is officially the smallest municipal park in the world. It's a bit strange to see a park sign for the small planting in the median of the road, but its all in good fun (and a geocache)

After leaving Oregon, we made a stop at Pearson Airfield to stamp our NPS passport and visit the park area. Besides its US military history, Pearson Field is the spot where the Chkalov Flight landed in the US. What, you've never heard of the Chkalov Flight (neither had I)? Starting in Moscow, it was the first plane to make a non-stop flight over the North Pole in 1937.

It does take forever to actually get to any of the big mountains. Mount Saint Helens was a place we both wanted to explore. We knew it still had snow at a low elevation and knew we didn't have enough time to get really close so we agreed to get as near as possible, We started at the Mount Saint Helens Visitor Center and got the best view we would see of the peak. The boardwalk through Silver Lake gave some great views of the mountain and some super wildflowers.

We drove the road toward the mountain as long as possible before we had to turn toward our stopping point for the evening. We stopped at one now closed park which was closed after the eruption and hunted a couple of caches along a road that was heavily damaged during the eruptions and closed afterward. At the last cache along the road, Ali spied calypso orchids. We had never seen this showy orchid before so this was quite a treat.