About This Blog

This is yet another incarnation of my personal blog. Here's where you can read about what I do when I'm not at work: hiking, seeing plays and other shows, eating, traveling, etc.

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TR: Enchantments

Posted by gck Thursday, August 28, 2014 0 comments

The 4 day backpacking trip that I’ve been training for all summer has come and gone. It was everything I wanted it to be! I enjoyed the incredible beauty of the place, and I’m looking forward to more trips like this in the future.

I had so many pictures that I wanted to share that I wrote up my trip report this time on Exposure. You can view it by clicking on the image below.




TR: Soaring Eagle Regional Park

Posted by gck Thursday, August 7, 2014 0 comments

Distance: varies (my hike: 2.6 miles)
Elevation gain: varies (my hike: ~180 ft)
Directions, map, and more information on the park website.

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Left: Pipeline trail
Right: signs to keep me from getting lost

I’m continuing my Hike-a-thon weekday hikes with Soaring Eagle Regional Park in Sammamish. This park offers miles of multi-use trails, and it’s perfect for me because they number all major trail intersections and have clear maps and arrows at each intersection! Even a hopeless navigator like me didn’t make any wrong turns. The Pipeline trail is the main trail that cuts diagonally through the park. It’s wide, smooth, and mostly flat and perfect for the casual walker. I took this trail most of the way before turning onto the smaller trails, and based on my experience, I think this park should be renamed “Soaring Eagle, Crawling Slug” because there were SO many slugs.

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Left: one of many slugs
Right: smaller trail

The smaller trails are still very well maintained, but there’s some minor elevation change. Walking on these trails felt more like hiking than the Pipeline. I saw some mountain bikers heading out when I started walking, and it looks like it’s a fun and popular mountain biking destination. I’m not sure if the walking experience on the narrower trails would be as pleasant on a busy biking day, but it wasn’t a problem tonight. The forest seems newer and more sparse than Bridle Trails, but you don’t end up looking into people’s backyards or hearing car noise.

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Barred owl 

I was on my way back to the entrance with sunset approaching when I heard a whoosh and saw large wings not far above my head. Looked around and saw a barred owl staring at me from a nearby tree. Pretty cool! Then I thought of the reports of barred owls clawing at ponytails in Bridle Trails awhile back and I was thankful that this guy left my head alone. I checked the internet later to see if the owl was commonly spotted at this park, and it turns out that this exact section of the park was closed 2 years ago when an aggressive barred owl was attacking people’s heads. Eek. Well, maybe he’s better behaved now. I only had the wide angle lens on my camera, so my pictures are really bad, but maybe I’ll go back and look for him sometime (with a helmet on?).

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On my last leg of the trail, I stumbled upon two teenagers smoking weed. They immediately started heading out, and I followed, which freaked them out because they started walking faster and kept turning back and looking at me. But other than the teenagers at the end and the mountain bikers at the beginning, I saw no other people on the trail that evening. A nice escape into the woods!


TR: Eagle Lake Backdoor

Posted by gck Sunday, August 3, 2014 0 comments

Distance: 5 miles
Elevation gain: 400 feet
Trailhead directions and more on WTA.

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Left: tree fungus
Right: fireweed

I couldn’t hike until the afternoon today, so I decided to try one of the shorter hikes that I normally don’t consider. I was originally going to do Barclay Lake, but I decided to save it for when I’m hiking with someone who wants an easy hike, so I decided instead to do the alternate route to Eagle Lake. The traditional route is supposed to be a painful upwards slog from Barclay, but the alternate route starts from a high trailhead, so it’s short and has little elevation gain. WTA refers to it as a fisherman’s trail, but the trail is in good shape and has gotten a bit of maintenance (cutting steps in blowdowns, etc.) so I think it’s more of a “backdoor” than a fisherman’s trail.

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Cliffy FR 6514

To get to the high trailhead, your car has to do the work for you. You turn off of Highway 2 onto Beckler River Road, a nice paved road, but soon, you turn onto another forest road and it gets interesting from there. Most of the ~6.5 mile forest road drive is on FR 6514, a rocky, cliffy, narrow road that gains quite a bit of elevation. Pretty rough on my Camry, but I made it. I’m not sure what I’d do if I encountered a car coming in the opposite direction because there are plenty of areas on the road where there isn’t room for two cars, and backing up doesn’t sound like fun, either. I didn’t see any cars on my way up, but I did see two dirt bikes coming down when I was on one of those “is my car going to make it?!” sections and that did not make me feel better about my chances! The forest road drive took me almost an hour, making it about a 2 hour drive each way. A beefier car would be able to go up faster. The views from the road were really beautiful, though, and I saw a camper vehicle parked in a turnout area with the intent to stay the night.

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Left: garter snake eating something?
Right: Mount Townsend and Paradise Meadow

The forest part of the trail (which is most of it) isn’t very interesting, but it also isn’t very hard and you can get through it quickly. I was startled by a garter snake early on and chose to go around it instead of over it on the trail. After about two miles, the trail enters Paradise Meadow, or as another trip report writer called it, Paradise Mudow. It’s scenic, with views of Mount Townsend and Merchant Peak, but there are all these muddy areas that are hard to avoid and hard to pass through. I was happy for my boots because my running shoes would have been swallowed up by one of those mud puddles for sure. The trail splits, one way going to Stone Lake and the other to Eagle Lake.

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Left: Merchant Peak
Right: Merchant Peak above Eagle Lake

Despite the 100% sunny forecast, it had been raining when I started driving to the hike, and I had been listening to thunder for awhile. Light rain started coming down, and I didn’t want to chance driving down the fun forest road in a downpour, so I didn’t spend much time at the lake before rushing back. Turns out I could have stayed longer, but it’s better to minimize risk when hiking alone. :) There was a group of adults and kids camped out at the main campsite and a guy in a raft fishing in the lake.


The lake was very pretty, especially for how easy the hike was, and it would be even prettier on a sunny day. While the 2 hours of hiking wasn’t really worth the 4 hours of driving, I’d like to come back on a better day and do more exploration. There’s an old cabin on the side of the lake, the side trip to Stone Lake, and a possible scramble up Mount Townsend for even better views.


TR: Bridle Trails

Posted by gck Friday, August 1, 2014 0 comments

Distance: varies (Raven trail – 1 mile)
Elevation gain: varies (Raven trail – 100 ft)
Map, directions, and more on the Bridle Trails website.

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Left: Cascade Classic horse show
Right: Beginning of Raven trail

What better way to kick off Hike-a-thon than a hike in my own backyard? Bridle Trails State Park is just a little ways down my street, and it’s part of my normal running route. They’ve got a fine series of trails that I haven’t explored much, so I hope to do more walking in the area this month. To park in the lot, you have to have a Discover Pass, but there’s plenty of parking near the park that doesn’t require it if you don’t have one. Tonight, the lot was full anyway – I happened to stumble upon day 1 of the Cascade Classic horse show. Riders were busy competing for high scores in the big ring. I watched a little and then headed for the trails.

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I normally run down the straight power line trail in the center of the park. The last two times I’ve attempted to incorporate any of the other trails into my run, I’ve ended up getting lost. There are three main trails in the park, but many smaller trails branch off of the main ones. This time, I had planned to hike the Trillium Trail, but I accidentally got on the shorter Raven Trail instead. The path was nice and it was easy to follow the main trail. Since this is an equestrian park, horses have the right of way and there’s definitely horse “evidence” on the trails. It’s common to see horses on the trail or in yards along the power line trail, which could be fun thing for kids. The forest was pretty and peaceful, but this specific trail runs pretty close to busy roads, so I could hear car noise while walking. The other trails go deeper into the park and don’t have that issue as much.

Trail map

Next time I’ll have to find the Trillium Trail, which is supposed to have a few interpretive signs. I got back to the big ring, watched a little more of the horse show (they were moving to the “handy round” as I left), then walked back to my car. Great start to Hike-a-Thon! Now onto the weekend.