We found ourselves with some unexpected free time this past weekend and so Daniel and I decided to take a last minute backpacking trip. The night beforehand , I spent hours pouring over maps agonizing over what route to take. I was hoping for a trail near an alpine lake or with alpine views (or both!) – but with a relatively easy level of difficulty. Daniel is slowly recovering from a torn meniscus in his right knee and I’m worried he may re-injure it if we push too hard.
On sunny days, Mount Rainier majestically dominates the skyline as I commute to work each day. The mountain feels like a dear friend after I hiked the Wonderland Trail in 2016. I briefly visited the northwest corner of Mt. Rainier National Park this past spring when I hiked the Carbon River Trail, but it was too cloudy to see the mountain that day. Next time, I vowed, would be different. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to return ever since.
Last year I called the Pacific Crest Trail home for six glorious months. I’ve wanted to return to the trail many times since then but, alas, circumstances have prevented it. This past weekend I finally got my chance. On Saturday I planned a trip to Mirror Lake along the PCT starting from the Windy Pass Trailhead, which is a relatively easy 6-mile jaunt roundtrip with only 1000 feet of elevation gain. I first hiked this trail 3 years ago when I was only dreaming of hiking the PCT. It seemed like a fitting way to make my homecoming.
This weekend, I hiked to Talapus Lake with my 3-year-old nephew Ben, my brother Jonathan and my sister-in-law Sarabeth. Talapus is one of many stunning lakes that gives the Alpine Lakes Wilderness its name. The lake is accessible by a short and gently-sloped path – which makes it a very popular trail for hikers of all ages and abilities. The trail became increasingly crowded the longer we stayed but I found it to be more manageable than some of the other more popular Seattle-area trails.
Granite Mountain has been on my bucket list for a long time. Located just west of Snoqualmie Pass, the mountain is famed for amazing 360-degree views of Mt. Rainier to the south and Mt. Baker to the north. It’s also one of the few hikes in the area to feature a lookout tower at the summit. The Granite Mountain trail is off-limits most of the year due to extreme avalanche danger. Now that summer has arrived, the snow has finally melted out – except for the last mile or so which crosses a snowfield.
I love hiking long trails. What I don’t love about long-distance hiking, however, is being away from my family for extended periods of time. Luckily for me, there are lots of shorter “long trails” in my area to explore. The Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT) is one of those trails. Traversing the entire length of the Tiger Mountain State Forest, the TMT is rugged and wild and attracts a fraction of the crowds that flock to more popular trails with big views.
During our recent heat wave, I decided to hit the trails early for another midweek hike. This time I headed to Cougar Mountain – it’s an area I’ve visited previously but not for several years. As a part of the Issaquah Alps mountain range, Cougar Mountain is the easiest to access as it’s the closest mountain to Seattle.