Little Bandera Hike before school starts

The views from the top...if it wasn't raining you could see Rainier right there!
The views from the top…if it wasn’t raining you could see Rainier right there!

  I know I said I wasn’t going to organize any more hikes, but I organized one more to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of our MBA program!  Also, I got married over the weekend, so a gentle, relaxing hike was in order.

  I decided on the Little Bandera Mountain hike, which was vaunted by Seattle Times as one of the 10 best hikes around Washington by Karen Daubert from the Washington Trails Association.  I’ve done several others on her list and was not disappointed.  This was apparently one of the best near Seattle (on the I-90 strip), so there were pretty high expectations.

  It did not disappoint.  We pulled off of Exit 45 and immediately got onto this really pitted gravel road that would bottom out a low-clearance vehicle.  In my Tacoma we did the 3.8 mile stretch of washboard road like a champ, but I ended up spilling some of my McDonald’s coffee.  Luckily, the heroic efforts of my truck-mates saved the day with some emergency napkin triage.  

  The hike itself was really, really easy on the first 2 miles or so, and then the last 1.5 miles was…pretty steep. 

Mikey's expression says it all
Mikey’s expression says it all

  So…yeah pretty steep moves, and with the steady rain and wind it felt a little like the Mist Trail in Yosemite Valley.  Fun!

If you see this, you're near the top
If you see this, you’re near the top

  We got to do some nice scrambling around on the rocks to get to our destination…a little more than necessary because we did get lost for a couple of minutes until we relocated the trail.  The top was just a clearing with a small cluster of trees lining the trail, but the views were indeed fantastic.  Would probably be amazing on a clear day!

  We celebrated with the traditional drinking of beers.  This was a great hike, I agree with the rated “medium hard” difficulty from WTA.  Not crowded at all, compared to the other hikes I’ve done on I-90.  I will be back!

Look at the smiles! It's because they're on their way down :D
Look at the smiles! It’s because they’re on their way down 😀

  To find out more about the hike, visit the Washington Trails Association page!

Is this the start of the outdoor club? Thoughts on Little Si

  After an invigorating career day at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, a couple of us MBA students decided to go do a sunset hike at Little Si, just off of exit 32 on Hwy 90.  We tore up Little Si in about 40 minutes, and then sat around at the top for a while and watched the sun set over the Olympic Range.  We were hoping to catch the Aurora Borealis, but we didn’t know that there was no way we’d be able to see it.  

  A couple of us are thinking about starting an outdoor industry club here at the University of Washington.  With such amazing companies in the local area and so many opportunities for fun in the outdoors – why hasn’t anyone done this before?  The opportunity to start something new and pass something down to future generations is also extremely tempting and motivating.  We have an Olympic biathlete, a Colorado ski patroller, and a ton of other talented folks with a passion for the outdoors in our midst.  Why not us?  Why not now?


Cascade Pass to Sahale Glacier Hike

The view from the parking lot of Mt Johannesburg (and its glacier) is already intense!
The view from the parking lot of Mt Johannesburg (and its glacier) is already intense!

Friday, August 29 2014

  I first found out about Cascade Pass on a list of the top hikes in Washington State from the Seattle Times website.  It’s tough to find a good list of top hikes that I agree with, but that one I definitely agree with so far!  Alpine meadows, gorgeous views during the entire hike, and a glacier – what’s not to like?  It’s also located in the North Cascades – a region I’ve never been to before because it’s 3 hours from Seattle.  It’s securely within day trip range but still an all-day commitment.  I decided that this will be the last hike I’m going to organize with the Foster MBA crew before school starts, and I was determined to make it an epic one.  Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse – the sign that summer is finally coming to an end.   

  My hiking partner for the day was a fellow full-time Foster MBA 2016 student and my climbing partner, Emily.  We drove up from Seattle around 6:30AM with the hopes that the weather would be better in the North Cascades.  We drove through the rain for about 3 hours until we got to our destination. The last 45 minutes or so was on a gravel road, kind of rough but not a problem for the Tacoma.  The website said that normal ground-clearance cars can make it up the road, and I don’t disagree – there are just two negative radius uphill turns that might give people some traction issues.  The road itself was picturesque; it wound through beautiful mossy woods and over several fierce creeks, past a couple of campgrounds.  The parking lot at the trailhead was misty, and clouds above were moving fast. The clouds broke through just enough to see an amazing view from the trailhead. Across the parking lot was the glory of Mt Johannesburg and its mighty glacier, which was still rumbling and cracking in the late summer — a not-so-subtle reminder of the power of nature.

  The first part of the hike up to Cascade Pass was just a moderate set of switchbacks.  The fog kept chasing us the whole way up until we left the forest and we got above the treeline, about an hour into the hike or 2.25 miles in. The last bit was over a field of scree and talus all the way to the pass. Foggy for the most part here, but occasionally the mist would part and you got a glimpse of the open air below you.  

Emily is super stoked about the foggy views!
Emily is super stoked about the foggy views!

  When we got to the pass, we met a father and his two sons with 70+ lb packs resting in the little stone circle that marked our lunch spot and first turnaround opportunity. They weren’t super stoked about the weather because they were planning on doing the 25 miles to Stehekin, a village that’s only accessible by plane, boat, or hike.  In fact, almost every single person on this trail was doing a multi-day backpacking trip.  I don’t know about you, but camping in the rain is where I draw the line unless I’m purposefully making it a sufferfest.  We broke for lunch here at about 11:30 and cracked open some beers before the wind and rain really picked up. We had to move up trail to avoid the weather, and just stood around on the trail trying to stay warm, clapping our hands and stamping our feet.  The area off of the trail is very fragile and delicate, so we just had to eat lunch out on the middle of the trail.

  Flickr and other sites showed a magnificent view of Cascade Pass in the sunlight, but all we could see was fog and clouds.  Luckily for us, the sun broke through the clouds just momentarily and we were able to see the magnificent view of cascade pass…for a moment .

The view from the Sahale-Cascade Pass junction.
The view from the Sahale-Cascade Pass junction.

  Totally worth the wait!  We got brave and decided to see how far we could go on the Sahale Arm towards the glacier. We held our beers as we hiked he steep incline up to the glacier, but the rain and fog got worse. The rocks started to get slippery and the dirt became soft and started to slide right under our feet. After about 20 minutes of this we decided to turn back and retreat.  

  We’re glad we turned back! The weather didn’t get much better and we lost all the views. This hike really made me appreciate the hot summer days we’ve been enjoying so far in Seattle. Despite the weather, this was an amazing hike and it gave me a reason to return, possibly as a multi-day trip.  Wasn’t too steep or difficult, but definitely not a nature walk either.  There is a campsite on the glacier that looked very promising, and should have some of the best views in Washington.  People also bring skis/snowboards to let gravity do some work on the Sahale Glacier, too.  Next time!

Cascade Pass guide, courtesy of Washington Trails Association

Rattlesnake Ledge with Lee – And Saving a Life

Two other hikers - they also helped on the way down
Two other hikers – they also helped on the way down

Rattlesnake Ledge Hike, 10 July 2014

  Hiked with Lee to Rattlesnake ledge, a quick jaunt near exit 32 on Hwy 90. Easily much better than Little Si, in terms of crowds and payoff. View was spectacular but really exposed. Amazing view of Mt Si from the top, and Rattlesnake Lake was crystal clear below. However, you gotta be careful because people do fall off and die every year.

  Lee was a great conversation partner – he just came back from Atlanta (where he’s from) but has been living in Seattle for about a year. He used to do consulting in Washington DC for the DHS on infrastructure. Hike was easy, we passed two old guys and a dog at the very beginning – they figured we were a lot faster than they were.

  On the way back from the top, we saw one of the old guys collapsed on the ground – he was suffering from a heart attack. There was already an off-duty nurse on the scene and they had called an ambulance. There were probably a dozen people just standing around. I helped by trying to run around to find aspirin, but wasn’t successful. I left my first aid kit at home because the hike was supposed to be really easy – I ditched my kit and other essentials to make room for beer.  Eventually Ben, an Army ranger who just returned from Afghanistan this morning, showed up and helped build an improvised stretcher.  A couple of us took turns carrying the old guy down the mountain. We met up with the paramedics about halfway down and then put him on a wheeled stretcher. The old guy was conscious the entire time but definitely was in a lot of pain…overheard the medics saying he might have a tear in his heart. Apparently it’s something he’s been dealing with since high school.  We got him down to the bottom without any issues, and from there he was airlifted out.  From what I understand, he made it.  

  This was definitely a reminder to live a healthy lifestyle and to work out harder. I need to not just bring first aid supplies for myself, but for other people. I need to be strong not just so I can climb well and stay in shape, but so that I can have functional fitness and actually better help carry/help others in emergency situations.  Wilderness First Aid – here we come!

47.4361° N, 121.779° W

Bridal Falls/Lake Serene with Charles and Peter

View from Lake Serene
View from Lake Serene

Hiking Bridal Falls/Lake Serene, 3 Jul 2014

  First hike with the Foster hiking crew. Met up at Charles’s sweet apartment complex in Wallingford, showed up late so he and Peter were just hanging out in the car waiting for me. Short drive up US Hwy 2 and we were there. Weather was pretty overcast/rainy in the AM.

  Hike was pretty gentle all the way up to Bridal Falls.  You can get into the falls if you like, but it would be pretty fatal I think – the water was going really strong.

Bridal Falls - it's worth the detour
Bridal Falls – it’s worth the detour

  Hike was nice and steep. 28 switchbacks to get to the top were no joke, at times there were stairs. Peter brought his dog, who was off leash most of the time and did really well. So jealous, I wish our dog was like that!

  Lake Serene was great, a very nice payoff…imagine it would be much better on a sunny day. We made it to lunch rock and decided to get some peace and quiet and go to a different rock. We scrambled along the side of the lake, down a rope, and across a scree field before finding a lunch spot we named “brunch rock.”

  Charles did some fly fishing (didn’t catch anything), I went around to explore for some bouldering and Peter relaxed while watching the clouds rise above Mt. Index (pictured). I didn’t find anything in my skill level that was protected – lots of sharp rocks. Did find one really cool overhanging problem with 2 ratty ass crash pads decaying underneath it.

Charles fly-casting like a boss
Charles fly-casting like a boss

  Peter asked a good question on the drive back – what would your ideal internship be like next summer? I guess it would be…working at an outdoor company doing product management/marketing!

47.7825° N, 121.575° W