It’s been several months since I’ve shared my adventures with you. I’ve gone through the winter blues and lost track of myself. I didn’t spend nearly as much time outside as I had the previous spring and summer and it took a real toll on me. I didn’t take the transition particularly well. Once winter hit and I had to fully accept what that meant: shorter days, awful weather, lack of energy or drive, depression, lack of friends to bring along among other things, it really started to have a negative impact on my mindset. It’s spring time now and although the rain is ever present the days are warmer and longer and that makes a big difference.
Life sucks a lot less when you add mountain air, a campfire and some peace and quiet.– Brooke Hampton
Table Of Contents
I haven’t been hiking nearly as much as when the blog started when my eyes were wild with anticipation for that next peak. But I have managed to get outside here and there. After the Trail of Ten Falls I went hiking with my girlfriend for her birthday to the top of Mt. Washington. It was one of my favorite days being in the woods and also one of the most physical. It was exhausting, brutal and relentless. Having been months since I last shared my adventures with you I thought it might be good to break down what exactly I’ve been doing and where I’ve been.
To be honest I’m not sure why I decided on this hike a second time around. When I’m thinking about what my next trail is I tend to never want to walk the same mile twice. Washington state has some of the best hiking on the face of the planet and there’s so many trails to choose from. I remember hearing a stat that I could hike every day for the rest of my life here and still not be able to devour every last mile that awaits. Knowledge like this nudges you to always see what else is out there, to examine everything the state has to offer from corner to corner.
My girlfriend Jenny was struggling on the initial ascent and questioned whether we should be there in the first place. It’s a valid question and I’ve pondered it myself on numerous occasions. But I went on to tell her about never once regretting getting to the top. Every ache and pain and sometimes even tears that I shed were worth every bit of struggle because the pay off was that much better. Getting to the top isn’t about the view, that’s secondary to the feelings of accomplishment that fill you with immense joy and satisfaction.
The first time around I remember reading about the slight difficulty in locating the trailhead and the second time proved almost as elusive. It’s not marked and there are no cairns to help. But once we found it, the hike was on. The first mile was as rocky as ever but what followed further up was tromping through slushy snow. Beyond that it was something closer to snowshoeing but we didn’t have snowshoes. Most of the snow was well trodden and compacted and we benefited from this greatly. But that benefit was not without disadvantages. This made for a long trek and it became a real slog to make the top. I remember it vividly because it was incredibly difficult to fight through the pain and exhaustion we both felt.
Atop Mt. Washington, in late February, besides feeling cold and nervous that Jenny couldn’t feel her fingers, I felt at ease. The climb was over and I had pushed on when I felt like giving up. Had I been alone I may have done just that but thankfully I was not. I never underestimate the power and strength that I get from those who hike alongside me.
Hamilton Mountain + Columbia River Gorge
Baker Lake To Noisy Creek
The Mt. Baker area is a long trek from my house and it’s not often on my radar but luckily Jenny had found this gem and suggested it as a long but casual stroll along a lake with a Mt. Baker as the focal point. There’s no turning that down. I remember checking out the forecast, as any self respecting PacNW’er always does, and not seeing sunshine. Deterred we were not but luck happened to be on our side and that elusive sunshine came out and gave us her warm embrace. It was welcomed as we laid by the shore smelling the next door campers hot dogs roasting over a fire.
Lake Serene And Bridal Veil Falls
I’d had this trail on my list for a while and had heard about it all the time both online and off. I was eager to get poles out and see for myself. This was the first real hike since Covid restrictions had started to let up and it had the foot traffic to show for it. It’s along Highway 2 in Washington state and it’s a real treasure chest of a road. The whole road is serene and alluring and if you’ve never been to this part of the country it’s otherworldly but it’s also the gateway for us seeking a deeper connection into the forested interior and epic peaks that the Cascades have to offer.
Although the hike was busy and had a steady flow of people there were still moments of solitude and once at the top of the lake we were able to find a pull off and have lunch. Jenny packed all kinds of snacks and this particular lunch felt more like a feast. It’s not unusual to fantasize about food on the trail and salivate at the thought of what you are going to chow down on once you get back to the trailhead but on this hike I felt fully satisfied and just enjoyed the partially frozen lake. A few avalanches crashed in the background to my excitement. Nature being the wild beast that she is without so much as a concern for anything in her path. It’s that raw beauty and natural state and relentless indifference that is the draw for us all. She carries on and we sit in awe and appreciate what we are lucky to witness.
This trail gets a lot of praise and is known around the world as being one of the most picturesque places that exist. Here’s the echo chamber saying the same. It is in fact beautiful but I found the beauty to be overshadowed by the sheer number of people misbehaving on the trail. The only solitude we got is when we pulled off the trail to pee. We lingered for a bit to eat some much needed PB+J’s but we didn’t have enough for what we were doing. This trail just isn’t my fondest memory and I’m going to leave it at that.
Pratt Lake Trail
This was such a great hike that Jenny and two of our friends, Ray and Kelly, went on in the rain. We were all building up to Mt. St Helens the following week. This hike was pristine and there were hardly any other hikers on the trail save for a group of hilarious teenagers who seemed gleefully confused about where they were but happy and enjoying themselves. At the lake we saw a park ranger and a few park employees and it’s always a pleasure to to bend their ear a bit and learn from their extensive outdoor knowledge. They also happened to be exceptionally polite and engaging and they said they appreciated seeing real rainy day hikers. That’s like Dale Earnhardt telling you he approves of your driving.
Mount St. Helens
This was the big hike of the year and not just because of elevation gain. This year we kicked it up a notch and raised over $ 3200 for an emergency food bank in Pierce County, Washington. A lot of really kind people donated and shared and were cheer-leading us on and that just created such a cool vibe around the whole climb.
I started really hiking a little over a year ago and fast forward to now and I’ve helped create a fundraiser, bring people together, climb a volcano and many mountains with my amazing girlfriend and great friends, to explore this incredible state I live in and have nothing but plans for years to come. I am thankful for the journey and all those who have come along either here or out there on the trail.