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Showing posts with label Hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hiking. Show all posts

Local Adventures : Game Farm Park, Auburn, WA - Activities For Kids & Families

Want to get out and explore nature right in your own neighborhood?  My advice, simply open your Google maps, and check out your neighborhood.

Just out your doorstep are dozens of unique places that are yours to explore and enjoy. Recreational facilities, hiking trails, historical landmarks, lakes, rivers, natural areas, beaches and forests – they belong to you! Why is that? Because they’re part of our public lands, our unique state parks system.

 There’s no better way to easily connect with nature, get some exercise in the outdoors, learn something new or just relax, than visiting your neighborhood  parks.

Within a few mile where we live, there are dozens of local parks. One of our favorite is Game Farm Park in Auburn.

The park is located in the banks of the Stuck/White River, and covers 88 acres.  Our favorite activities here are: picnicking, hiking, and archery. For more experience and adventurous folks, the river offers great whitewater kayaking and boating.

Game Farm Park is located on the banks of the Stuck River. The park covers 88 acres - See more at: http://auburntourism.com/index.php?c_ref=266#sthash.TICBjCQN.dpuf
Game Farm Park is located on the banks of the Stuck River. The park covers 88 acres - See more at: http://auburntourism.com/index.php?c_ref=266#sthash.TICBjCQN.dpuf

Game Farm Park is located on the banks of the Stuck River. The park covers 88 acres - See more at: http://auburntourism.com/index.php?c_ref=266#sthash.TICBjCQN.dpuf
Game Farm Park is located on the banks of the Stuck River. The park covers 88 acres - See more at: http://auburntourism.com/index.php?c_ref=266#sthash.TICBjCQN.dpuf

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Exploring Mt St Helens: Camping, Hiking, Caving And Enjoying The Last Days Of Summer

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Labor Day weekend means camping and cookouts for many families. We're no exception. It's become our family tradition to celebrate the official end of summer ( and that's exactly what Labor Day means to us ), with a long road trip to a far away place in search of a new and exciting adventure.

Just pitching a tent, roasting s'mores, and singing campfire songs don't work for us. We crave excitement, adventure, thrills, new experiences and lifelong unforgettable memories !

Last year, it was our first time trying "roughing it up"  a.k.a tent camping. I wanted to  make sure my 5 year old would be cozy and conformable sleeping ( almost) under the stars :) To make things more adventurous, we took a canoe across Little Kachess Lake.

But what could be more adventurous and mysterious than exploring a cave, learning about an exploded volcano, and going on a hike in a lava bed ?! Not to mention the usual camping, lake time, BBQ, and s'mores !

That's why this year, our destination was Mt St Helens area.

Though I've already explored Mt St Helens Ape Caves a few years ago, I couldn't wait to share the excitement of caving with my son !

We were very lucky to snatch a camp site right on the bank of the beautiful Yale Lake. Though the campground had a designated boat launch and a small beach, we had a privilege of swimming just a few steps away from our tent...which later turned out to be a bit ...uncomfortable...Apparently, our new family tradition was to say goodbye to summer by taking the last dip... at 7 am... in freezing morning water :)

Next day we took HWY 83 to Lava Canyon for a short hike. I couldn't believe how excited my son was walking on the rocks where lava flew just a few dozen years ago. He wanted to bring every stone as a souvenir back home.

But the highlight of the trip was, of course, exploring  the famous Ape Caves !


- If you're traveling with little ones ( 6-8 y.o ) make sure to bring warm clothes ( the cave stays cool/cold all year round )
- Bring water... though the lower cave ( the popular/touristy one ) is relatively short, it's still quite a walk for little kids, and they do get thirsty. 
- Don't skimp on little cheap flashlights... Besides the fact that you won't see much, pictures ( even with flash ) will be very low quality.

MOST IMPORTANT : There are two parts of Ape Caves - lower and upper caves.

While the lower part is relatively short, easy and accessible ( it's approximately is .75 miles long
and can be hiked down and back in an hour ), it takes up to 2-2 1/2 hours to finish the upper cave. You will climb over approximately 27 boulder piles and scale an 8-foot high lava fall !

Last time I was there, I promised myself if I would ever bring my kid here , he'd have to be at least 8 y.o and in a good fitness shape.

Many parents being unfit themselves, AND bringing along little kids, create a lot of traffic jams in upper caves, thus preventing other people from truly enjoying this unique experience.


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Tips On Visiting Yosemite National Park

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Last summer I had an amazing opportunity to go on a road trip around Southwest. I had a privilege to visit Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. One of the goals of that road trip was to visit as many National Parks as possible.

Tip - If you're planning to visit multiple National Parks during your road trip, buy America the Beautiful National Parks Pass from REI.com ($80). It will save you money and time.

At one point, I was hesitating to  visit  Yosemite National Park, but stunning pictures like the one below changed my mind...

Also, it was quite convenient for me. Driving from Nevada/Arizona side, HWY 120 took me right through the heart of the park !

Tip - If you decide to drive to/around the park, choose off-peak hours ( before 9am, and after 7pm ). One line HWY is notorious for its traffic jams and slow driving.

Summer time is THE busiest! Quite often its hard to find an available camping spot. So, make your reservations ahead of time.

Tip - If you're ExtraHyperActive/dirtbag like me, you can pitch your tent anywhere you want, and in the morning, will be rewarded with the most amazing views !

Camping/Paddleboarding Tenaya Lake

Yosemite National Park offers an abundance of activities and sightseeing destinations. Among the most popular are : rock climbing and hiking.

Have you heard of solo climbing ? Solo climbing represents the ultimate extreme in rock-climbing. Solo climbing (or soloing) is a style of climbing in which the climber climbs alone, without somebody belaying him. What if he falls down, you ask ? He dies-- no two ways about it.

Alex Honnold has made Yosemite popular by scaling the two most popular Yosemite big walls — Half Dome and El Capitan.

Tip - I wouldn't recommend to sacrifice your life for a ( breath-taking, once in a life time ) shot like this, and would suggest to hire a guide. There is a popular wall just minutes away from Camp 4/ Yosemite Village.


Yes, you can definitely opt for hiking Half Dome, but... can you really call it hiking ?

Tip -  If you have limited time for just one hike, make it Upper Yosemite Falls/Eagle Peak ! Why ?
Fewer crowds, and stunning view of Yosemite valley, and Half Dome !

Upper Yosemite Falls

On Top Of Eagle Peak

Fun fact : The setting sun illuminates one of the park’s lesser-known waterfalls so precisely that it resembles molten lava as it flows over the sheer granite face of the imposing El Capitan. A mid-February phenomenon!

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Hiking, Backpacking, Camping Desolation Peak

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Have you been to the North Cascade National Park ?

Less than 3 hours from Seattle and about 6.2 miles (10.0 km) south of the Canadian border, the North Cascade NP is the largest of the three National Park Service units that comprise the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

The park is most popular with backpackers and mountain climbers. One of the most popular destinations in the park is Cascade Pass, which was used as a travel route by Native Americans.

The North and South Picket Ranges, Mount Triumph, as well as Eldorado Peak and the surrounding mountains, are popular with climbers due to glaciation and technical rock. Mount Shuksan, in the northwest corner of the park, is one of the most photographed mountains in the country and the second highest peak in the park 9,127 ft or 2,782 m.

Another popular attraction in the  the North Cascade Mountains is Desolation Peak.

Desolation Peak Trail, is a steep hike to high meadows, great views and the iconic fire lookout where Jack Kerouac spent 63 days during the summer of 1956 as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak. He wrote about his experiences in the books Lonesome Traveler, The Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels.

I read somewhere that in summer time you can still rent the fire lookout and a spend a couple nights "in solitude".

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Best Washington Hikes : Rattlesnake Ledge, Si, Little Si Mountains, Mailbox Peak

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After rafting, hiking was the second outdoor activity I got to try.

Among the best hiking trails close to Seattle are : Rattlesnake Ledge, Si, Little Si Mountains, Mailbox Peak, Tiger, Squak and Cougar mountains. They are easily accessible, and suitable for anybody in a relatively good fitness shape ( I did Si and Little Si mountains on the same day ).

Though, honestly, I consider hiking to be a bit boring, it's a great way to stay in shape, get outdoors without spending tons of money on expensive gear, and meet new like-minded people.

Since I'm hoping to climb Mt Adams, Baker, and ,may be, go back to Rainier, I'm going on a few training hikes soon.

Mt Si remains the best training ground for anybody getting ready to summit Mt Rainier.

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Kayaking Amongst Kalapana Lava Flows In Hawaii

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You know how you set one goal/dream, and then, on your way to reach it, you realize it's not grand enough ?

I've never been to Hawaii, and while planning my tip, among "must do things" like surfing in Oahu, or scuba diving in Maui, I also wanted to see the famous Kilauea Volcano.

Kīlauea, being the only volcano in the world that is simultaneously active enough to be interesting, docile enough to be harmless, and carefully monitored enough to be approachable, is a major part of the island's tourist draw.

All I wanted was to hike to the top, and snap a few pictures, very harmless, totally touristy thing to do...

Then I saw this photo and watched this video...

I mean, how awesome is it to be as close to erupting volcano as this ?!!!

Would you put it on your Bucket List ?

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Tips On Visiting The South Rim Of The Grand Canyon

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Visiting the Grand Canyon has been on my Bucket List for the past 5 years...

The Grand Canyon is one of the 7 "Natural Wonders Of The World" ( don't forget, there are many different types of "Wonders Of The World" ), and though it happens to be in this very country, I still can't believe it took me so much time to finally see it with my own eyes.

....unfortunately, it was absolutely opposite to how I dreamed/planned to visit this world famous Natural Wonder....

 NOTE: There is a big different between "visiting" and "exploring"  the Canyon.

"Visiting" mostly implies "stop by/drive by, take a bunch of pictures, and ,may be, do some light "exploring" ( short hiking, biking around the park, camping...)

 "Exploring" ( for a small number of people ) means hiking rim-to-rim or multi-day backpacking or rafting.

Hiking rim-to-rim and getting "close and personal" was my original plan/dream. But as I happened to visit the park during one of its hottest months ( middle of June with day temperatures in high 80's ), I had absolutely no desire even to try to reach the bottom of the Canyon.

So I lowered my expectations, and settled with the idea to see the Grand Canyon like a tourist ( yeah, I still hate myself  for that :) )

So, here are a few tips:

Visiting Canyonlands And Arches National Parks

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One of my goals during my road trip was to visit our beautiful National Parks. I was warned against visiting the most popular parks during summer months. But I thought : " How bad could it be ? "

Well, it was pretty bad...

Canyonlands and Arches National Parks turn into circuses (or zoos, if you prefer that visual) in the summer : bumper-to-bumper traffic, waiting lines at scenic pulloffs, dealing with retards who after taking a picture decide to stay, and a general sense of frustration, all this detracts from the park experience.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitching or complaining. Both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks are amazing, beautiful and , hence, most visited parks. Everybody wants to see them, everybody wants to snap a "been here, done that, have a proof" picture...

But I was amazed how lazy, stupid and inconsiderate most people were !

At Canyonlands I saw people waiting in line to take a picture at popular Grand View Point when you could just walk for 100 feet and enjoy the same view.

At Arches, people would take a picture, and then would just sit under the arch ( Hello ! Get the fuck out of there ! I don't want your fat wife's ass in my picture ! )

Some people are so lazy they don't even bother to get out of their car to take a picture....

I overheard one family who said that " 1.5 mile hike to Delicate Arch is not worth it"

Despite how majestic it was, I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there.

Clearly, the best strategy to avoid dealing with the overcrowding at the most popular national parks is to stay away during the summer months. The key is to get to the park early in the day, visit the popular spots during off-peak hours, and then spend the rest of your time enjoying hiking,biking, and camping in backcountry areas and other out of the way places.

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Hiking, Biking, And Sightseeing Salt Lake City

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After some unpleasant paddleboarding around the Great Salt Lake, I continued my way into the heart of Utah, and its capitol - Salt Lake City...

I think biking is the best way to learn about the place you're visiting. Cycling is a great way to view the spectacular landscapes, enjoy the crisp fresh air and visit numerous attractions.

The very first place I wanted to visit was Ensign Peak, one of Mormon historic sites around Salt Lake City, and Utah's most sacred mountain.

At an elevation of 5,414 feet, this mound-shaped peak is just minutes away from the Utah State Capitol.

I parked my car by Travel Information office ( which is right across from beautiful capitol building ), and biked to the park's trailhead ( the road to the park is strenuous uphill, so if you want , just drive your car to the park ).

The trail itself is relatively easy ( it's only about 1000 feet ) . Though it's about 1 mile round trip, it was my first time hiking in 80+ degree weather.

But it was totally worth it ! From the top, you have marvelous views out over the Salt Lake Valley and Great Salt Lake !

Biking downtown was a breeze ( literally, it was all downhill from the park ).

There are many beautiful churches in Salt Lake City, but Temple Square in Downtown Salt Lake City, is Utah's number one tourist attraction. On your visit to the 35 acres of Temple Square you will be able to see, feel, taste, touch and experience Mormon culture and its pioneer heritage.

You don't have to be a Mormon to enjoy this beautiful architecture !

Between biking and hiking to the top of Ensign Peak, biking around capitol building, and Temple Square it took me about 2 hours to get to know this great city...

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Selk’bag Introduces 4G Lite Sleepwear System

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Makers of the original Selk’bag release lightweight, two-season version of their wearable sleep system

Mountain’s Best Gear, North American distributor of the Selk’bag Sleepwear System announces the fourth edition of its technical sleepwear system, Selk’bag 4G Lite. With lighter-weight materials, brighter colors and more refined sizing and fit than the previous third generation model, the 4G Lite is the sleepwear system for recreational camping, indoor wear, car travel and even tailgating.

The new 4G Lite builds upon the success of Selk’bag’s original mobile and comfortable sleepwear system created by Rodrigo Alonso of Müsuc in Santiago, Chile. The uncommonly comfortable Selk'bag is an excellent solution for those who are unsatisfied with traditional mummy or rectangular sleeping bags.

Reinforced nylon soles and ripstop and water-resistant fabric make the 4G Lite durable for outdoor use. The 4G Lite’s thermal collar and baffled construction keep the wearer warm at all angles, as well.

“Selk’bag 4G Lite is an evolution in what people should be expecting from sleeping bags,” says Phil Benson, CEO of Mountain’s Best Gear. “This sleepwear system provides mobility and lightweight warmth at an affordable price.”

The 4G Lite has a comfort rating of 45 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for two-season wear. By simplifying the third generation version, Selk’bag has created a more consumer-friendly sleeping bag alternative with no-zip, quick-release hand systems, sleeker design and a more snug fit.

Available in kid and adult sizing, the 4G Lite comes in three bold, fun colors – Dark Shadow, a dark grey, Surf the Web, a royal blue, and Hyacinth Violet.

Technical features include:
• Baffled construction to eliminate cold spots
• Soft, yet durable ripstop nylon shell with DWR (durable water resistant) finish
• Reinforced nylon soles prevent wear and lateral grips give traction on multiple surfaces
• A hood with drawstring for added warmth
• Compacting carry sack
• Thermal collar around the head and neck to prevent drafts
• Exaggerated draft tubes to stop heat loss around zippers
• Wide zipper tape, preventing snags
Selk’bag 4G Lite is available for purchase from Selk’bag’s online store (store.selkbagusa.com) and other retailers including Mountain Gear (www.mountaingear.com) at $79 for the kids’ version and $99 for adults.

What To Do at Longmire, Mt Rainier in Winter

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"Mt Rainier...within an easy drive from Seattle..."

The drive to Mt Rainier can be pretty exhausting...2-3 hours along HWY 7 or 161 is a torture ( for me )...But with the right company it's a breeze

Fee-free weekend over this Veterans Day was the first time I decided to take my 4 year old to see "the Mountain". Weather forecast for Saturday looked very promising ( snow accumulation of 4-12 inches ).

We were planning to visit Paradise for some fun snow time and may be go for a short hike...
Between November 1 and May 1, all vehicles traveling in Mount Rainier National Park are required to carry tire chains. This requirement applies to all vehicle types in all weather and road conditions...Weather in the park is notoriously quick to change, and sudden storms can appear with little or no warning.Link
It was snowing hard ! Half way up I decided to turn around.

Before, the only time I visited Longmire was to pick up a climbing permit. When we pulled over and got out of the car we had no idea what to do.

During summer time this area is famous for great hiking with trails like Eagle Peak, Rampart Ridge Trail, and of course, the famous Narada Falls. But in winter there is not a whole lot to do.

The first ( and the most obvious ) choice is the Longmire Museum. It's small, but very cozy with lot's of pics and stuffed animals.

A ranger at the museum suggested that we should check out the Trail of the Shadows across the road from the museum. It's only 0.7 mile and leads to a homestead cabin built in 1888 by James Longmire who discovered mineral hot springs here, and later built a resort.

While crossing the street I saw the sign for the Wonderland Trail, and momentarily thought about taking my son for a "short" 93 mile hike...But then settled for a picture and a short hike up the trail...

I'm still planning to hike the entire length of the Wonderland Trail next summer, so at least now I know a good spot to begin...

But the highlight of the trip was...

...they instantly became best friends...

Visit Mt. Rainier Video That Really Inspires To Visit

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I'm not sure who's in charge of marketing at Mt Rainier National Park, but I know they've been doing a pretty bad job inspiring people to visit this one of the most beautiful and unique parks in US.

I think the video below really brings up all the excitement, adventure, and discovery that you can find at Mt Rainier.

"It's more than experience. It's a way of life"

Two weeks, two mountains: Climbing Mt Stuart and Mt Shuksan

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It's been almost a year since I stepped on a mountain. Since my failed attempt to climb Mt Rainier, I added another goal to my Bucket List:

- take a mountaineering class (and climb major Washington peaks )

This year has been pretty great so far. I've had lots of adventures, but, unfortunately, not enough time. That's why when I got a chance I jumped on a great opportunity to climb two major Washington peaks just a few days apart : Mt Stuart and Mt Shuksan.

Last year I did a fun little hike to Ingalls Lake passing Mt Stuart on the way. While admiring the mountain I didn't think that a year later I'd get to stand on top of it...

Mount Stuart is the second-highest non-volcanic summit in the Cascade Range, and the highest peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Mount Stuart's upper North Ridge is listed as one of the Fifty Classic Climbs in North America and offers intermediate rock climbers a moderate route to the summit.

For me, Mt Stuart was "a strenuous hike", and a great test of my physical fitness. While most of the route is a class 5.5-5.6 scramble, the final 45% vertical snow wall was a bit intimidating...

If Mt Stuart was a training ground to brush up on my ice axe and crampon skills, Mt Shuksan made me pray for my life...

The final 600 feet to the summit involve what it's called " multi-pitch traditional climbing " ( meaning climbing more than one rope length, placing all gear required ), something that I had to learn "on the spot".

Gym or even crag climbing is fun, "easy and safe" ( relatively ), climbing with a 20 lbs backpack wearing your hiking boots is hell !

Know how to repel ( and being confident that you can do it with your backpack on while looking 9000 ft down ) is essential...as it's the only way down.

Though the mountain is imposing, beginner and intermediate climbers often climb this mountain.

Several mountaineering companies lead guided climbs on both Shuksan and Stuart charging $600-1000 for 2-3 days of climbing. So, not only did I climb two out of 18 Major Northwest Peaks, I saved about $ 1500 !

If you are a DIY type mountaineer, check out Climbing Washington's Mountains the book that provides the information needed to climb 100 of the state's outstanding summits, including all of state's 9,000-footers and high volcanoes.