A Hiking Adventure: Wallace Falls

It’s quite amazing how one day on a mountain can turn into amazing friendships and more adventures. The following weekend after Bandera, included just that. Myself, along with four other girls (one who I met on Bandera) adventured out into the Central Region of the Cascades to a hike called Wallace Falls. Wallace Falls is a 5.5 mile, 1,200 ft elevation gain trail that consists of a unique series of approximately 9 waterfalls, with one as tall as 265 feet.  While on this trial, the girls and I decided we would where we explored both on and off the path. Yes, Krista, Isabella and I enjoyed the “other side of the fence”. Let me try to explain this “other side of the fence” statement.

When we would come to a lookout point along the trial, there are usually fences blocking off the rugged back country areas. Instead of just standing outside them overlooking the waterfalls, we would find our own way to get as close as we can to the waterfalls. We managed to get quite close and at one point I was leaning over the edge of a cliff all to capture a picture (surprise surprise right?!?!). You could say we had way too much fun on this trial, and well you’d be right.

Another amazing part to this day was that it wasn’t over just because the hike ended. We actually planned earlier that we would head to the beautiful, bavarian town of Leavenworth for the remainder of the day. You might remember my first trip to Leavenworth for Oktoberfest where I talked about the unique atmosphere of the mountain town. This time was a bit different. We decided to do the wine tasting side to the town vs. beer and boy, was it amazing. Many of you know that WA is the second largest wine production region in America and Leavenworth is home to approximately 9 tasting rooms. We visited 3 that day and 1 included my friend Krista and I ‘sneaking away’ from the other girls to taste some delicious Red varietals.

Like all days, this one came to an end with a sunset but was just the beginning of wonderful friendships. I can’t wait to experience more of Washington with my new friends here in the city. Check out the photos here 

A Hiking Adventure: Little Bandera Mountain

Two weeks ago my life went from routined to busy and full of new adventures and it all began when I joined my new church’s outdoor group. This group sets up various outdoor adventures throughout the year and last weekend they planned to head to the southern Cascades for a moderate (or difficult) hike at Bandera Mountain. Since moving the Washington, I have became very interested in researching places I’m going and this was no exception. What I learned about Bandera Mountain wasn’t nearly enough to prepare me for what I was about to experience.

This hike, Little Bandera Mountain, located in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (Snoqualmie Pass Corridor-West), was a 7-mile round trip with a total elevation gain of approximately 2,850 feet, totally at 5,050 feet above sea level. Below is a quick summary, click here for more information.

Little Bandera Mountain tricks you at first with a gradual elevation gain/incline on an old logging road through the trees, but slowly turns into a steeper path. As you continue to climb, the scenery becomes less dense turning from trees/forest to meadows and flowers before hitting the point of no return- the 2-mile marker. Here is where the fun begins. The meadow/boulder-like trail runs right straight up the side the mountain to the ridge compiled of granite boulders, which you have to physically climb over at times (well, I did. Camera in hand too, mostly). At the summit of Little Bandera, you can enjoy panoramic views scanning the Cascades and an overview of Mason Lake, which is a break-off trail from Bandera. And if you think I’m joking about the “side of the mountain bit”, go check out the photos here.

Besides the amount of effort this trail took, one of the best parts to this hike was that I wasn’t alone. I was joined by 15 fellow Christian hikers, who I learned more and more about as the day went on and a few who became good friends. It was a different experience for me to hike with that many people but it felt pretty wonderful having others to share in the beautiful of Mother Nature and experience some of the beautiful land God created for us to enjoy. We all might have had different levels of skills and endurance, but the final destination was the same. Hiking alone might be something I’ve done in the past, but I quite enjoy the company and am excited for another Outdoor Group adventure.

A Hiking Adventure-Birthday Edition: Kendall Katwalk

Moving to Washington wasn’t too tough of a decision for me to make and I can honestly say it was the right move. I have grown in my faith and learned quite a bit about myself, including the fact the I love HIKING. I could spend hours reading hiking books trying to figure out where I want to go next and how far or high I can push myself. And realistically, it’s nice to know that when nothing is set in stone for a Saturday, the Cascade Mountains are a quick 45-60 minute drive.

Over the 5 weeks, three have been spent on the top of a mountain (you can read about Summiting the Si here), including the day I turned 27. Since I had recently moved to a new city, I didn’t know a lot of people, so celebrating my birthday the “usual” way (as in going out to a restaurant/bar) was kind of out of the question. I wasn’t too heart broken about it because I knew the mountains would, and will always be there, to help me grow another year older. And that’s exactly what they did this year.

I decided on a hike, known as Kendall Katwalk, which is a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. If you don’t know anything about the Pacific Crest Trail, a.k.a PCT, here’s a brief summary. The PCT is a 2,650 mile trail that runs along the west coast, connecting Mexico to Canada running through California, Oregon, and Washington (more details, click here). The portion of the trail I completed is located in the Snoqualmie Pass area; approximately 75-minutes from my home. It totals up to about 11-miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2,700 ft, ending at 5,400 ft above sea level and is rated at a 4/5 for difficulty.

This hike starts out at a moderate pace through old-growth forests, thinning out to meadows, before becoming a large boulder filled area, blasted out of the side of the mountain. This was my favorite part, because little did I know, that hitting the boulder filled area would mean a perfect view of Mt. Rainier. It took me by such surprise that it took my breath away. Of course this wasn’t the end of the trail. From this point, I still had another 1.5 miles or so to go.  The trail continues to climb high, wrapping along the west side of the mountain and ultimately ending  up at broad shelf on the east face of the ridge, known as the Katwalk.

It’s hard to explain the beauty of this particular landmark or to the flood of emotions and pride I was feeling when reached the Katwalk, as this was (and still is) my longest hike I’ve completed, but I can say this…it was breath-taking. This hike was exactly what I needed to start my 27th year off on the right food and I felt nothing but blessed overlooking valleys with mountains all around. God continues to amaze me with this beautiful land we call home and each lesson He knowingly/unknowingly placed into this world.

What lesson you ask? I’ll explain. While standing on the edge of a cliff looking into a valley, I realized that life is like a mountain range. You might feel that nothing is going right, you’re at a low point (e.g. in a valley) and that life has all these challenges (or mountains) preventing you from moving forwards. But nothing is what it seems. God places these “mountains” in our path, not to discourage us, but to make us stronger and wiser, to teach us and to guide us to Him and His love, as with Him anything can be overcome and conquered. I wander what He has planned for me next. Stay tuned to find out.

Pictures from this adventure, click here.

A Hiking Adventure: Mount Si

Summer is FINALLY here in the state of Washington which means…it’s hiking season once again and this girl is over the moon ecstatic. To start off this summer, my friend Sydney and I chose to hike a mountain that rises sharply above the Snoqualmie River valley with views of the Cascades, Mt. Rainier, and Seattle in the far distance. Mount Si is a 4-mile hike full of steep switchbacks, has an elevation gain of  of 3150 feet (topping off at 3900 ft.), and at the end has a couple large rock formations.

Mount Si is a fairly common hike for many people within the city and can attracts anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 visitors each year*. What was the most interesting part of this hike were the amount of trail runners running UP and down this trail. I struggled WALKING up this trail and couldn’t even imagine running 4-mile up the side of a mountain.

The first mile wasn’t extremely rough, but not an “easy” start to a trail. When I passed the mile marker, I was already feeling the burn in my calves and quads but was determined to push on. At about the 2 mile marker, there’s a location called Snag Flats, which is the location of an old wild fire that hit this Douglas fir filled area. Good thing about this location is that it’s a bit flat so it allowed for a little break in the climb.

Pushing on upwards for another 2 miles, the last of which was upward HELL, until finally reaching the summit’s basin, also known as the scramble. The scramble changes in terrain from the rest of the hike ,which is all trees/shrubs, to boulders/loose rocks. I say summit’s basin because the actually summit is a HUGE rock formation about 400ft above the basin, known as the Haystack, that requires a little bit of  rock climbing. We ended up forgoing this climb as our legs were already screaming at me and let’s be honest, the view was amazing where we were and didn’t really want to exert any more energy. After sitting at the top basking in the sun with a light breeze for nearly 2 hours, we decided it was time to venture back down the mountain. It was an amazing first summer hike to start the season and I’m ready to hit the trails again.

*Washington Trails Association

A Visit to the End of the Continent, Washington

The past few months have been pretty crazy with transferring to a new building and relocating into the city and somehow a weekend outing with my co-workers got lost in the mix. Back in March, on a rain Saturday, I ventured down south to Long Beach to explore the peninsula and Cape Disappointment. I know what your thinking…Cape Disappointment…really, what kind of name is that? I thought the same thing however it wasn’t such a disappointment. Let’s start at the beginning.

Although I have already visited Long Beach, this time was a bit different. It was raining and chilly and spending time on a beach with this kind of weather is not ideal. So as a back up plan, we hit downtown Long Beach and explored the cute  little shops including a antique museum, a candy shop, a bread shop and a kite shop. Let’s just say when you get 5 therapists together anything becomes a good time. “Fried Therapist” standing in front of a frying pan…now that’s funny. One interesting fact about Long Beach is that LB is the most western point reached on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

From LB, we headed further south towards Cape Disappointment. By this point in the day, the weather started to clear up a little bit and we actually was able to see up and down the coast line. Before actually visiting Cape Disappointment lighthouse, we made a pit stop at another lighthouse called North Head. These lighthouses located up and down the WA coast line also doubled as access areas by the U.S. Military and Weather Service. Quite interesting actually.

We finally made our way to the Cape Disappointment Headquarters, which also doubled as Fort Canby, built to defend the entrance of the Columbia River during World War II. Apparently this location was manned by specialized troops by the U.S. Army, who were trained to respond to all possible threats from enemy warships and operated high-powered weaponry that was the world’s best and most modern technology of the times. I had no idea that Cape Disappointment was also a large military fort, not to mention breath-taking.

Another interesting fact about this location: “Welcome to the Edge of the Continent”. I’ll explain (thanks to the park services). With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Jefferson sent four exploring parties to chart the lands newly added to the United States. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the most famous expedition, which ended here at the Pacific Ocean. Their expedition charted a well-inhabited land little known to Europeans and Americans. Just thought I’d throw a little history lesson towards your way.

It’s quite surprising actually when I start to think that I stood at the far western point of this country starring into the deep blue Pacific Ocean. Hope to enjoy many more of these mapless adventures. Stay tuned 🙂 Click here for pictures.