June 2009

Dan's Birthday Outing

This was our outing for Dan's 47th (!!!) birthday this year.

We had big plans to get up there early and hike up to Hyas Lake and have a picnic and wander around the lakes basin until the afternoon. Dan called the ranger on Friday and found out that the road washed out about 3 miles from the trailhead. Bummer. But we decided to just go for it and head up there and see what there was to see. Dan had printed out some geocaches in the area for on and after the hike, so we had those to do. I packed a picnic and a gift for him and we were off to catch the 8am ferry.

Weather has been wonderful around here with temps in the 70's and 80's for several weeks. Of course Oregon decided it had to send some of its clouds up the eastern Cascades on Saturday, but we had our rain gear in the car and weren't planning on climbing any mountains or exposed slopes. :)

We drove up and over Snoqualmie Pass. Took a brief stop in Cle Elum to get some gas and then headed up towards Roslyn and points beyond. (We stopped in Roslyn on the way home from Leavenworth last month.) We had a good drive on a long road with a speed limit that is ridiculous. It should be 50+, but it's 35mph with 25 spots through more built up areas. UGH!

We stopped about halfway up Cle Elum Lake at Wish-Poo Campground to find a cache Dan had printed out. Have I talked about our caching yet? Okay, pause the trip report for a second. :)


Dan got a new Blackberry phone from his work. One of the features of the new phone is a GPS function. We can use it with googlemaps, which is fun too, but Dan got software that will help you "Geocache". Basically there are small little containers hidden all over the world. If you get this software, you can use your phone's GPS function to find the exact coordinates entered for a particular "cache" and find it. Some are easy and some are difficult. Some are multi-part searches too! When you find it, there's usually a small container with a log book (or scrap of paper), a pen for writing in the log, and a bunch of little trinkets. You take one and leave something new for other people.

They also have some caches that have "Travel Bugs" which are little tokens with a number on them. You go to the website and enter where you found it and then place it somewhere else. I'd love to find a couple of those around here before our Bend trip next month. It's fun to see how far they travel.

We've done a handful of caches together and Dan's found most of them in downtown Seattle by now. :) Some have been really fun including a multi-search one that required you to use a tool to open up the second location's box. I can't tell you how much I loved that one. There have been others that have been less than fun. We can't find the cache. We get all full of nettles. We get eaten by bugs.. oh, that was our hike.. but enough about what geocaching is ...


So we stopped at Wish-poo Campground to find the cache. Because we don't have cellphone signals up in the canyon, there is no way to access the data through the cellphone. So we printed out the coordinates and some encrypted clues we could use if we needed a hint. That meant I had to enter the GPS coordinates manually and find it from there. Juggling maps, phone, papers with cache info, Lucy excited we're getting out of the car. It was quite a feat! But we managed to find some picnic tables to park near and start walking.

We had the wrong picnic tables, but it wasn't too far to bushwhack it back to where the GPS was telling us to go. (Note: This is how we got nettles last time! Bushwhacking is not for the faint of heart.) I managed to convince Dan that walking along the VERY full lake was a bad idea and we took the road until we got much closer and saw some trails. We whacked our way over to where the GPS said it was and started to look around. I decoded the hint in my head because I forgot to bring a pen from the car. We still couldn't find it.

That's the problem with the caches for me. I get bored if I can't find it in the first 2-3 minutes. Dan becomes a crazy machine who HAS to find it or DIE! Okay, maybe not that crazy, but pretty intense. That makes us argue, so I took Lucy for a little walk down to dip her toes in the lake nearby and Dan kept looking. I was getting ready to walk back up and ask the obligatory, "Honey, how long are we going to look for this thing?" when I heard him call out. He found it!

We filled out the log, reading the others and checking the dates. We were the first people to find it this year! Then we sorted through the things and chose a small carabineer and left a "gold" medal. Then we hiked back to the car. Dan had a little peacock strut from his victory over nooks and crannies at the base of a fallen tree.

Back on the road we went through Salmon La Sac at the north end of the lake with just a small wrong turn with me pointing and Dan not understanding that grunting "mmmm mmmmm unhhh" is a navigational signal. But we were soon back on our way and onto the gravel road. Ah, Sonya's backcountry. :)Waterlogged



There was a lot of water in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I don't know if that's normal for this time of year or if the snow melt is in greater than last year. It REALLY snowed a lot here this year. I almost never want to see snow again. :) But we did see some interesting things like the water just running out of this log, seemingly from nowhere.

It was so strange looking to me that I insisted we pull over and walk back to take a picture or two and check out where the water was coming from. There was a little stream of runoff we could hear, but couldn't see where it should have been coming out.



Goat Mountain
Fortune Creek Picnic

Looking at the recreation map it looked like our best location for lunch was going to be to find a spot along the river where Fortune Creek comes in, just below Goat Mountain. I was totally right. That is some mountain and we had lovely views with the sound of the river and sunshine for our picnic. There were some clouds on the mountains at the north end of the canyon and hanging around some of the higher peaks to either side of us. Then I thought I heard something under the sound of the river. When I heard it again, Dan and I looked at each other and both said, "Thunder!" We lingered for a bit just looking around and then headed back to the road.

We were getting pretty far up when we started having to cross little washouts where you had to drive over some water. One was a concrete dip in the road with water going over it. I hadn't seen that before. Then we saw some people camping and that reminded me that there was a cache right there on the Scatter Creek Trail. But Dan saw something more interesting. The end of the road!

flooded road

more road washouts

Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Trillium bloom

After checking out the washout (the one on the right above) and agreeing that the Corolla would never make it, we headed back to the cache. We'd gotten some sprinkles and a lot more thunder somewhere northeast of us. I put my coat on, but only got about another couple dozen drops. Dan was smarter to just carry his coat.

The trail had a little creek crossing that seemed much more difficult than it should be for either of us. I think Dan was looking for the easiest way for me to get across. We ended up making the big step across using the rock in the middle trick. I laughed about how we stopped and fretted for a few seconds at what wouldn't slow anyone else down. Think we overcompensate for my ankle injury a little? ha ha

We did the old, follow the GPS and wander through the woods technique that Dan likes so much. We found Zero. We read the clue which was not at Zero, but 6 feet away. We looked in both locations. We looked in other similar locations within 15 feet. I wandered off with Lucy as she gets so bored with the looking part. Dan looked some more. The thunder was getting louder and I still had something important I wanted to do, so Dan agreed to give up and save it for next time we were up there. Found one. Couldn't find the other. 50/50 isn't terrible, right?

So we headed back down for a brief potty break at Salmon La Sac and then back up another dirt road past Cooper Lake. I had seen a ridge road that wound up and over a pass and then along a ridge overlooking Kachess Lake. I wanted to find a nice place we could hike off the road and relax and open a present. But it had to be up high because Dan lives for the high country. The clouds looked like they were going to give us a little bit of time and we started winding up and up.

We got to where the road was getting really narrow and had some scary ruts and watery spots. I was starting to look around for places to stop. I had seen a nice turnout, but wasn't sure where we could walk to from there. Then we came around a turn and started up a grade and saw it. SNOW! ACK!!! We walked up the road a bit to see if it was just a patch of snow, but it looked like it went the rest of the way up. Lucy and I watched and helped be lookouts while Dan did a very interesting 9-point turn to get the car turned around and we headed back to the turnout.

We got there and Dan loved the view down the two canyons and with Mt. Stuart in the distance. So I set up the blanket on the edge and we had some drinks and sat down to enjoy the view. I gave Dan his present. I got him a sampler box of some cigars a friend of mine recommended for Dan. It came with a torch lighter he's been wanting too. So we had a nice relaxing time there by the side of the road.

(Dan was supposed to take pictures here, but none were on the camera when we got home. He says, "I forgot.")

At one point an Outback passed us on the way up with a wave and a hello. We were there quite a long time, considering how much snow was around the corner about a half mile or so, but we never saw them again. (insert spooky noise) But we didn't hear any crash either and it's pretty quiet up there.

Time was running out too fast and I know Dan wanted to more that the quick couple of walks we had done just exploring around. We had passed a campground near Cooper Lake and headed back down there to do a little hike to see the lake before driving home. We drove to the end of the road and parked the car. Just getting Lucy and waters together we were attacked by mosquitoes. We loaded up with bug stuff and started walking where the trail sent us.

We walked on this tiny narrow trail with low bushes on either side. My calves and shins were getting all scratched and my poles were useless because the trail was barely wide enough for my feet. I kept seeing a road through the trees about 25 feet to our left and every time there was access I asked "Is that going where we are going?" to which we'd both answer "There is no way of knowing!" and I kept walking on the trail that did take us to a parking lot.

The thunder was getting louder and more frequent so we decided to just go on a little ways to where we could see the lake and head back. We walked on towards the lake, but the mosquitoes were thick in the forest. We had to keep up a pretty brisk pace so they didn't land. And Lucy didn't understand that we couldn't stop walking just to smell things or all mommy's blood would be sucked out. It was a jog to a pretty lake where there was just enough breeze that you could stand still long enough to take a picture or two. But that thunder was getting much more frequent and it was time to head back.

Cooper Lake

(We were on the ridge up there somewhere by that snow on the left side of the picture I think.)

My only request for heading back was that we could take the road instead of that scratchy trail. Unfortunately the road went out of our way to the east to a y-intersection where we turned back to the west. It was a lot longer to go that way and the thunder was getting pretty crazy. Somewhere around the intersection, I was walking with my head down and Dan asked, "Did you see lighting?" I thought it was a stroke. ha ha But we made it to the car with a little bit of blood left in our bodies.

We had a potty break, got settled for the ride home and managed to kill or release most of the mosquitoes that got in the car with us. Then we were off down the road. We could see more lightning and could hear the thunder much closer to us. We were both pretty relieved to hit pavement as it was starting to rain. We weren't 5 miles onto the pavement when the skies opened up and we were in a downpour. We call them the "Orange Blob" that travels on the Doppler radar and washes our house away in storms around here. It's usually the strongest part of the storm and we were in it all the way down to the highway. Coming down just above Roslyn, we were seeing the lightning strikes near the lake just to our west. That was quite exciting. The lightning would flash and the thunder would rumble right above us. Very exciting. I was sure glad we were in the car headed down instead of hiking down from the lake!

Giant Orange Blob!

By the time we got to Snoqualmie Pass, the rain had stopped. You could see clearing on the Seattle side. We were both hungry and Dan wanted to stop at the Rogue Brewery in Issaquah. I was tired and dirty from being outside all day and I really just wanted to grab a burger and go home, but it was Dan's birthday so.... :) We used the googlemaps thing to find the restaurant and found a shady spot to park the car so Lucy didn't bake.

We walked a block or so to the restaurant and found that they had some outside patio seating. We asked if we could have Lucy there and they said "Sure!" We decided what we were eating and I placed our order while Dan went to get Lucy out of the car.

We tied her up at the table and the waitress brought out a water bowl for her and some cookies she didn't want to eat. She's such a picky eater!

We enjoyed the sun and cool breeze and our dinner arrived. Dan had a Kobe cheeseburger with bacon. I had a turkey sandwich with bacon and avocado. Dan had the Summer Frog brew and I had a lemonade. We saved up some pieces of that bacon and turkey from my sandwich (and a little piece of daddy's burger) and I fed it to Lucy while Dan finished his beer and we waited for the check.

Then it was back on the highway and to the ferry. We made the 8:10pm ferry and were home, after a brief stop at the grocery store, by 9pm. We opened Dan's other gifts and SLEPT hard.

Fun day!

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