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Showing posts with label Washington. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington. Show all posts

Biking Interurban trail ( S. King County).

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Biking in S King County is pretty much limited to just two major trails : BPA and Interurban. While BPA trail is great for running, I personally prefer the Interurban trail for my long , easy, leisure rides. I wrote about BPA trail here, and now I want to share my experience about biking along the Interurban trail.
The Interurban Trail starts in the town of Pacific ( well, at least for me) and stretches for 14 miles, following the historic Interurban Rail Line. There are many access point along the trail. You can leave your car at a small designated parking spot, and go for a ride in both directions ( north or south). The trail connects the towns : Pacific, Auburn, Kent, Renton.

The trail is paved, nearly straight and flat as a pancake, making it perfect for beginner cyclists ( or lazy ones like me). Comparing to the Burke-Gilman trail , it's definitely less crowded ( well, at least in autumn). I wouldn't call this trail "picturesque", as it mainly passes through industrial areas and suburban lands. But it has its own "landmarks".
Riding the southern part of the trail , you never lose the sight of the majestic Mt Rainier ( especially when "the Mount is out"). Auburn's "SuperMall " is practically "on the trail " ( stop by "Sport's Authority" if you forgot something for your long ride). The imposing architecture of the Emerald Downs Race Track might be your next stop. Though, they host live racing from mid April through the end of September, nothing will stop you from making a quick stop to take a few pics. In Kent, the trail crosses over the broad Green River. During salmon season, the bridge is a popular spot among local anglers . A southern intersection with the Green River Trail occurs at Kent’s Foster Park, providing the possibility of an Interurban-Green River Trail recreational loop through the Green River Valley. In Renton, the trail provides access to the Southcenter mall ( my bad, Westfield Southcenter Shopping Mall). To the north, there is another intersection with the Green River Trail at Fort Dent Way near Fort Dent Park.

All in all, I like this trail. It's peaceful, not overcrowded, easy to ride, gives access to many food stops, opportunity for advance ( you can continue on the Green River trail "almost" to Seattle).

SUPing/Paddleboarding at Owen Beach At Point Defiance In Tacoma.

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On Wensday 22, Backpackers Supply hosted its third Standup Paddleboard ( SUP ) Social, at Owen Beach in Tacoma's Point Defiance Park. What is SUP ?

According to Wiki:

Stand up paddle surfing (SUP), or in the Hawaiian language Hoe he'e nalu, is an emerging global sport with a Hawaiian heritage. It can be traced back to the early days of Polynesia. The sport is an ancient form of surfing, and began as a way for surfing instructors to manage their large groups of learner surfers, as standing on the board gave them a higher viewpoint, increasing visibility of what was going on around them - such as incoming swell. In the early 1960s, the Beach Boys of Waikiki would SUP to stay in shape when there were no big waves. SUP'ing is popular at warm coastal climates and resorts, and is gaining in popularity as celebrities are sampling the sport, and cross-over athletes are training with SUP. SUPs have been spotted around the globe, anywhere where there is easy access to safe waters, as well as in the surfing lineups of the world.

May be the Pacific NW is not Hawaii and our climate is far away from "warm coastal", but SUP is making its way in our state. More and more folks began SUP surfing because of its own merits: since you have a paddle and aren't reliant on waves, you can paddle surf in lakes, rivers and on relatively flat water such as Puget Sound; you can travel great distances; it's relatively easy to learn, it's a great workout and it's a LOT OF FUN.

Learning how to SUP is as easy as 1-2-3 :
1- start on your knees, use your paddle on both ends
2- lean forward on the board
3- pop up and paddle

This Wednesday, there were about a dozen people giving SUP a try : men, women and even kids ! SUP is truly a family sport.

If learning SUP is relatively easy, getting into this water sport is not that cheap. In general, stand-up paddle surfboards cost between $1,000 and $1,700 + specially designed SUP paddles that go for $ 200 -300.

If you are not ready to make a commitment, the best way to sample this outdoor adventure is to rent a SUP board and see for yourself if it's something you could call a passion.

Like I've mentioned before, SUP is gaining popularity in our state and nowadays there are quite a few shops that have SUP for rent.

"Wave Hounds" in Seattle rents out epoxy SUP at $ 40 per day.

At "Perfect Waves " in Kirkland, you can rent SUP and get a quick 1 hour introduction lesson ( one hour should be all you need to get started and feeling comfortable on the water on your own) for just $ 30 ( great deal !: board + lesson). Also, if you decide to purchase a SUP board, they will give you your lesson fee ( $30) credit towards the purchase of a board, if the purchase is within the same month.

Here is a short video featuring the owner of "Perfect Waves" in action.

Multi-sport adventures in North Central Washington.

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North Central Washington is the most startling and diverse region of our state. With four distinct seasons, 300 sunshine-filled days a year, two stunning rivers running through local towns, blooming apple orchards and mountains so close you can touch them, your stay in this area will be memorable.

This weekend started just like any other for me , but took an interesting turn at the end.

On Saturday I arrived in Leavenworth for my weekend rafting trip along the Wenatchee river , which followed by a bike ride nearby. Since I am relatively new to the whole cycling scene and didn't really know where to go ( and road biking idea didn't really appeal to me ), I went to the only place I knew in Leavenworth - Ski Bowl.

Ski Hill Loop's 2 and 5 mile loops ,used for cross-country skiing in the winter, are open to hikers and mountain bikers in the summer. The unpaved trails are visible , well used and quite challenging ( at least it was for me ). A part of the trail offers good views of the Leavenworth valley; along another part, you can see work out platforms ( pull up bars, parallel bars,steppers ) illustrated with exercise pictures .

All in all, its a great area for your morning/evening work outs. Though I circled the trails a couple times it wasn't challenging enough for me. On the way back to my car, I looked up the hill, where an old ski jump tower was, and saw a hiking trail going up the hill. Without second thought I started pushing my bike ( it was too steep to bike ) towards my new goal. The effort paid off in the form of stunning views of the entire valley. The way down wasn't any easier. My bike ( or me ) kept leaning forward, every time I would squeeze the brakes. After nearly going over my head I decided to stop pretending to be a daredevil and pushed the bike down for the rest of the way.

After such an intense work out I thought I had deserved a schnitzel, washed down with a stein of authentic German beer. After dozens of times I've been here I still can't get enough of this fairytale town. The Bavarian spirit is so strong here that it makes you feel as if you're really somewhere in Germany. No matter what day of the week it is , there is always something going on here: art shows, festivals, celebrations, competitions. Even a simple walk along Front Street becomes a holiday.

On Sunday I only had half of the day, so I wanted to take the full advantage of it. Though it was my second year rafting and forth year visiting that area, I never made it further east to the Wenatchee valley. I was intrigued by its nickname " The Apple Capital of the World " and the unofficial headquarters for the area's outdoor activities.

On the way to Wenatchee I visited a small town Cashimier. For a small town ( "the Old American City " as it sometimes called ) it gets lots of publicity due to the local icon " Aplets and Cotles candy factory ". In my opinion , calling it "a factory " is a bit overrated. A small shop with some machines in the back. "Factory " tours and free samples are the main reasons people come to visit it.
The Chelan County Historical Society Museum is spread out over three acres and includes 20 original and furnished pioneer structures. Among other attractions : Historic Downtown and Apple Annie's Antique Mall the largest antique shop in the Pacific Northwest.

Entering Wenatchee through Wenatchee ave , one realizes why it won the " Great American Main Street " award in 2003. The avenue is a mix of cultural activities, shopping destinations, dining opportunities and outdoor experiences.

My first ( and due to a little misfortune, the last) destination was the Wenatchee Riverfront Park and its "Apple Capital Loop Trail ". I have to say , that it was the highlight of my whole weekend. Biking along the scenic banks of the Columbia river with the surrounding views of the snow capped mountains, dramatically sculpted scablands and green apple orchards was an inspiring and relaxing journey.

Another reason for missing most of the Weantchee's attractions - the visitors information center is located not in downtown, but near Ohme Gardens ( another famous site ). So, if you decide to travel down there, make sure you stop by the center or you can check out the Wenatchee official web site.

Budget travel tip : My personal reason for choosing Wenatchee as the headquarters for my trip was -accommodation prices. Just 20 minutes from Leavenworth the hotel prices were as low as $ 35 per day ( comparing to $ 100 in Leavenworth )

On the way home I still had some time and Peshastin Pinnacles State Park was right on my way. Peshastin Pinnacles State Park is a 34-acre desert park featuring a group of sandstone slabs and spires called "the pinnacles." Climbable spires reach 200 feet into the air. Rocks and trails provide views of surrounding orchards, the Enchantment Mountain Range, and the Wenatchee River valley. Though I wasn't there for climbing I enjoyed the park's mile and a half of steep hiking trail and watching a couple climbers making their way up one of the pinnacles.

In conclusion , whether you are a serious outdoorsman or simply planning a leisurely getaway, North Central Washington has an adventure for you. But be warned : its highly addictive and one day ( or even one weekend ) is not enough to fully experience and appreciate this beautiful region of our state.

Surfing In Washington State

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Ask any Washingtonian to list a number of outdoor activities, and he will spill it out : hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing, climbing, camping and so on. What about surfing ? " Not really our Northwest thing " - you will be told. Not true.

Surfing may not be as popular as skiing, biking or hiking in Washington , but there are people who are brave ( or crazy, you would say ) enough to take on cold NW 4-9ft summer swells .

Two popular spots are Ocean Shores and Westport, with Ocean Shores being more of a recreational spot and Westport - " NW surfing mecca."

Westport is a pretty good bet in the summer, and believe it or not it gets crowded on week ends. Late spring and summer bring smaller waves, lighter breezes. Spring through fall is the time for most surfers. In the spring, the surf starts to dial down, and in fall it starts to dial up again.

No matter the season, surfers need full wetsuits - including gloves, hoods and booties - as the water is always in the 50-degree range. But with a good wet suit, it’s no longer painful to spend a few hours in the water ( make sure you wear full body skins under wetsuit and wool socks with your booties ).

If you are new to the sport, start on a long board. A 9 (10 )-foot long board is for more powerful movements, and its size makes it more stable, easier to stand up and keep your balance.

If learning through trial and error is not your thing, check out local surf shops for lessons and rentals. Learning how to surf is challenging ( in NW - miserable ) , but fun experience.