Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hood Canal Kayak Trip

Kayaked Hood Canal (which is not really a canal) today on an Olympia Parks and Recreation outing.  We were on the water for about four hours around the Skokomish River Delta.  Saw harbor seals--as many as three at a time--several bald eagles and a numerous turkey vultures.  The day was mixed sun and cloud with about eight to ten mph winds.  A pleasant little trip. 

 It looked like this:

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Tolmie Lookout Day Hike

Hiked the Tolmie Peak Lookout Trail in Mount Rainier NP on an overcast and foggy day this past weekend.  Started at Mowich Lake which was totally socked in and not visible even where the trail skirted just above shoreline. We passed under sheer rocky palisades, across some small scree slopes and over Ipsut Pass, continuing on to Eunice Lake and then climbing to Tolmie Ridge and the lookout.

The route is known for spectacular views but this day is more sweeping banks of clouds across the high ridges and in and out of the spaces in between.  We make do with the views we get, which are mainly of Eunice Lake.  Our first view is from  the south.   We see the a shallow outet and the larger larger lake beyond the channel.  On the far side of the lake Tolmie Ridge is a near vertical wall of rock, massive in form, sheer cliff and tenacious forest.

Climbing the final half mile from the lake's outfall (pools but no running water) we see Eunice Lake as a whole, a sparkling blue gem surrounded by the rugged peaks of Rainier's northwest flank.  That impression is re-confirmed once we reach the lookout.  We catch a couple fleeting views of Rainier as the cloud banks sweep across the cirque that holds Eunice Lake.  At one point the entire cirque is filled with fog and zero visibility.  Other times we can see the basin and surrounding ridges as clouds roll in and out.  Heading back, we got a bit more sun and (sort of) clearing skies but the high places stay in the clouds as far as we can tell.  On a truly clear day this place would take your breath away.  On this day it was simply a fine destination with plenty of interest to make for a good walk.   

This hike was my first using trekking poles.  I rented a pair to try out.  For the most part I was glad to have them.  The poles helped me maintain momentum and stability and were especially welcome on the steep descent from the lookout.  Two poles are far more cumbersome than the one pole I have carried ever since I began using a pole in the 1990's.  That took some getting used to but overall the effect was good.  I'll start looking around to see what I might want to buy.  The rentals were pretty basic.  My hiking partner has a very nice pair with features that would certainly improve the poles' comfort and use.

Some photos:

 The palisades

 Eunice Lake

Eunice Lake again
Eunice Lake again

  Tolmie Lookout
Tolmie Ridge

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