Sweaty Hike Through Saint Edwards State Park

Seminary Building

Boy was it hot on the day I decided to go take an urban hike through Saint Edwards State Park! This solo adventure started off with me asking myself is this worth getting sweaty? Yes!

I started out towards the beach (Lake Washington) for a glimpse of the lake from a different angle. I started off on the Perimeter trail, but somehow found myself on the Seminary trail which lead to the beach. The beach was peaceful with the water lapping at the shore, and a few people where swimming in the lake as Kenmore Air float planes came flying overhead.

Peek of Lake Washington

After taking in the view of the lake I headed towards the Orchard Loop. The trail that connects to Orchard Loop trail ended up being the part of the hike that felt like it was going to kill me! South Canyon trail ended up being one of those challenging trails because I had to hike it all uphill!! Here I was huffing, puffing, and sweating all the way to the connection for the loop trail. I now know for future hikes to go down this trail instead of up it. Once on the Orchard Loop trail, it was all easy, and I regained my breath. Unfortunately the “orchard” was nowhere to be found, or I miss something along the trail.  I must have because there was not an orchard to be found as I made the whole loop again. Very disappointed after huffing and puffing my way to it.

After finding my way back to where the seminary buildings are, I decided to find the famous Grotto seen in wedding pictures. Ha! I ended up reading the map wrong! I thought the Grotto trail lead to the Grotto, but nope. Apparently it by passes it from the bottom of the hill instead (palm to face). I hiked all the way back down to the lake, and then had to take Seminary trail back up!

Stone Steps On Trail

Eventually I found a map with the “you are here” circle to finally be steered in the correct direction for the Grotto. Dear reader, I made it harder than it should have been. The Perimeter trail going towards the playground in a corner of the field is where the entrance to the trail leading to the Grotto starts.

Behind Look of The Grotto

Once there I really found it peaceful and secluded. A little slice of magic in the middle of the woods. I joked on Instagram I had found the place where I was getting married….when the time comes….when I find someone first…..ok then.

Selfie with The Grotto

The structure is a small stone altar with stone steps and a path leading up to it. Stone walls border around the area to make it look like small outdoor church/sanctuary. A very beautiful spot for a small intimate wedding.

The Grotto
Leading Up To The Grotto

After hiking lost all around the area, I decided it was time to head back home and get out of the heat. While walking back to the car, I decided to check out around the Seminary building.

Seminary Building From The Lawn
Entrance To The Seminary Building

There is something about old church buildings and how they speak volumes without making a sound. Lots of stories being told in these hollow halls of this building, and judging by the land action notice sign, it seems the place will have a few more to share in the coming years.

Overall I hiked a total of 5.5 miles. Not bad for an urban hike.

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Discovery Park Hiking Adventure

What to do on a nice warm sunny day in Seattle? Go on a mini hike through Discovery Park. On a warm sunny day Nana and I decided to go explore Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood. It has been a while since I last was here, and some memories came back-mostly at Fort Lawton’s Historical District.

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First I started off on the discovery trail loop toward the West Point Lighthouse at the tip of the park. Being at warm sunny day in the middle of the week, I saw a few trail runners, dog walkers, joggers and a few other day hikers along the trail. Along the North Beach trail, there were a few paddle boarders, sail and fishing boats in the bay, but a the beach was pretty much deserted. A beach to one’s self is rare moment to be treasured!

At the West Point Lighthouse there was hardly anyone around on the beach and a very peaceful quiet setting with a marvelous view of the Olympic Mountains across the bay. Here is where I ate my lunch in a shade of a tree in the backyard of the lighthouse keeper’s cottages. Two lighthouse keeper’s cottages look to be in sad disrepair compare to how the lighthouse looked. The lighthouse is not open to the public to tour because of automotive equipment takes up all the space in the small lighthouse. *note* be careful of lead paint around the lighthouse. After looking around I headed up the trail towards the Historical Fort Lawton area. One area I had to pass was the West Point Sewage Treatment Plant within the park. I forgot how nasty it is to walk pass this place on a hot summer day! I almost lost my lunch to putrid smell of untreated sewage waffling off the large tanks near the trail.

Next stop on the hike was the Fort Lawton Historical District. Up until 2011 this part of the park was an Army base. There are a few structures left to signify the remains of an active military post.The last time I was here in 2014, most of the buildings looked very dilapidated. Now they look all cleaned up and restored to blend in with the renovated officer’s houses going on the market. Twenty two of the remaining base houses have been converted into privet residences for the public to buy at an asking price of $799,000 to over 1.2 million. Base on the Zillow photos, these are not the base housing you would be assigned in the military. Few people were about in this part of the park, and came across a few people sitting in the shade of the buildings enjoying the quietness of a hot summer day. On top of the hill is the church where a stunning view of the snow cap peaks of the Olympic Mountain range can be seen.

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On the way back to the car, I came upon the old Fort Lawton Military Cemetery with bone white head stones in neat rows. The cemetery is small compared to the national ones I have been to. A quiet secluded place of rest for the living and those who have passed on. One of the headstones I came across dated back to the 1908 era when a family (Robinson’s) were laid to rest after fighting in the American Civil, Spanish-American and Mexican wars. This like many others in the small section had Civil War to World War Two as the wars represented by those laid to rest here. For a few moments I sat and reflected in this peaceful place under the flag pole.

The hike in total was five miles all around the park. I am very glad to have seen all of the sights with relative peace and quiet. I have come to a point where it is getting too crowed in Seattle area, and having less crowds to enjoy the park was well worth the sweat.

Hiking Adventure At Rattlesnake Ledge- Summer Favorites

What to do when you don’t have a reason to be at Sea Fair? Beat the Interstate 90 bridge closure and go hike Rattlesnake Ledge trail with a friend. Early on Saturday morning a friend and I went on an adventure up Rattlesnake Ledge on a hot summer day (90 degrees!) to experience the view everyone talks about.

Boy were we in for great view, just look at this view!

The Ledge View
The Ledge View
Mt. Si View
Mt. Si View

We started our adventure with a forty-five minute drive from Seattle towards the outskirts of North Bend. After a few minutes going around in circles in the small town of Tanner looking for the road leading up to the trail with a GPS that was having dumb movement, we finally got to the parking lot of the trail head around 9am.

Dry Lake Bed
Dry Lake Bed

Since the whole state is in a state of drought, there was a section of the lake bed that had dried up and you could trek across the lake bed to the head of the trail without going all around the lake. Starting up the trial at 9am is a good time because there was not a lot of people going up or down at this time. There were a lot of pauses along the trail for some water after the heat of the day started to come through the canopy of trees. The trial going up had switch backs, steep inclines in areas, rocky and tree roots on the trail. There were times when my friend had to help me up over steps made out of tree roots. Overall I made it up the trail without any incident.

I reached the ledge after an hour of hiking two miles up the trail. The view did not disappoint at all, and the sun made the perfect reason to bask on the rocks looking out over the valley below. The lake below was a beautiful blueish- green color with the banks very visible from the ledge showing how dry the summer has been. From the ledge you could see Mt Si, North Bend, Tanner/Riverbend, Chester Morse Lake,Christmas Lake and Iron Horse State Park Trail.

11145235_10207759989504698_4474455020043415380_oAfter spending an hour on the ledge people watching and resting for the trip back down, I started to see groups of people starting to crowed the ledge. We decided to start back down the trail after a few people started to push others out-of-the-way on the ledge. While coming down there were a lot of people starting up the trail to the ledge and a few people who were struggling with the heat as they hiked upward. I am so glad the both of us decided to go earlier because marching up the trail with people crowding behind you would not be a fun experience and the weather was getting warmer the longer I was on the trail. When we drove out of the area there were a lot of cars parked on the shoulder of the road and lots of people on or by Rattlesnake Lake.

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I hiked All The Way Up There!

After finishing the hike we stopped in North Bend to refuel ourselves and then head back home to cool off from the Ninety degree weather.  Now I can check this one hike off my bucket list and try next time to hike up to Upper Ledge which is another 3.8 miles past the lower ledge.

Hike For The Oktoberfest Beer

Looking back on all the hikes I have done over the years and I can say I have hiked Wallace Falls in all seasons. Strange to think that it is the primary hike that I have done with others. This past March I hiked this very same trail with Megan for her college geography project. I have hiked it in the middle of winter with the rain pouring down, in the middle of a hot summer with lots of people crowding the trails, in the early spring with snow still on the ground and now early fall with all the trees peppered with fall blowing in the breeze. I think I need to find a new favorite hiking trail after this.

Our adventure started out with a detour that ended up taking us through the back country roads because as I found out last-minute SR-522 was closed for bridge construction. The drive ended up putting an extra thirty minutes to our already hour-long drive. Once we go there, there were lots of people starting out for the rail head in the parking lot and the weather looked like the rain was going to hold out. Another disappointment while hiking was the closed Rail Road Grade trail, so we had to hike the Woody Trail instead to get to the Upper Falls of Wallace Falls. The problems did not stop there, at the beginning of the hike my water bladder line leaked all over the front of my shirt resulting in me finishing the hike with my tank top (thank goodness for that!) and I started to over heat from all the exertion. Since hiking this trail many of times before, you would think I never have a problem. Wrong! Apparently the trail was more difficult this time around then the last three times. I felt half way through I was going to die from all the exertion I had to put forth to get over tree roots, and lift myself up to reach high steps on the stair parts of the hike. Michael realized how vertically challenged I am when it comes to certain heights and had to in the last bit of the hike hoist me up so I could get up the trail.

Apparently I have thought the Valley Over Look was the upper falls part of the hike. I was surprised to find that I had not made it to Upper Falls before. So we trudged up the steep switched backs to the Upper Falls area. When we got up to the falls, of my goodness! I have to say I missed out all those time when I didn’t make it up. The falls were beautiful!

The hike going down was not as bad except the last stretch where the stairs came back! But over all I’m glade I made it finally to Upper Falls of Wallace Falls.  Took us both 3 1/2 hours round a trip to hike the trail. I think next time I will aim to hike further up to Wallace Lake using the Rail Road Grade trail when it reopens again next summer. The trail is popular, but not as popular as Rattle Snake Ridge trail (believe me, people who have gone said it is very crowed in the day, and so go as early as possible for Rattle Snake!) and since it was free entry day for national and state parks, there were a little more people this time.

We hiked for the Oktoberfest beer. This means I made a hearty Oktoberfest Lager Stew for when we returned from our hike. I found this recipe on Pinterest and wanted to try my hand at cooking with beer again. Instead of celebrating Oktoberfest by getting massively sh*t faced to prove I can drink a Stein of beer like the Germans, I decided why not eat our beer? I think eating it is just as good as drinking it. The beer of choice I made it with: Pyramid Oktoberfest Autumn Lager. The end result was a hearty stew with Michael giving it a thumbs up for a repeat. I think I will make a hearty stew after each hike we take, since it seems to be a meal to replenish the soul and body. A little beer thrown into the mix wont hurt either.  I also made the night before another beer theme dish, Craft Beer Mac and Cheese.  The beer of choice: Pyramid Outburst Imperial IPA Dry Hopped IPA.  I found the vanilla Greek yogurt to be a little more powerful in flavor. Took a lot of beer to mellow out the taste of vanilla. Overall the mac and cheese came out better than expected since I did not need to put milk in. A repeat dish again.

Earlier this week at work my company had a Oktoberfest party since the German Oktoberfest starts on 20th of September and goes to October 6th. While getting the party setup I kept having the Toaster Strudel commercial where the kid says “strudel” in a German accent  in my head. Didn’t help when people were saying Prost! all the time and clinking their beer bottles ( not German steins 😦 ) every time someone finished a round of the hot sauce challenge.

I know! What the heck is what you are thinking when seeing such a commercial like that! I tried and only got as far as the one after the Tabasco sauce before it was like eating gasoline and needing a snow cone. At least I can say I’ve tried it.

Overall hiked for the Oktoberfest beer, had a try at the hot sauce challenge, hiked five miles with nature and spent a wonderful time with my boyfriend while doing all of this. I believe this time was an unconventional Oktoberfest celebration weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

Geological Hike of Wallace Falls & St. Paddys Weekend

I have been Wallace Falls a few times and each time it has been a different season. In the past I have blogged about my trip up with a great friend of mine (click here) and this time we both went again for a geology project she was doing for her geology class in college. The point of the trip was to hike up to the falls and take picture of her standing next to or near geological important markers for comparison in size. We decide to do it at Wallace Falls since it is an easier place to access and one of the few state/national parks open for visitors this time of the year.

The adventure started at 7am in the morning with a forty-five minute car trip up past Gold Bar on the way  to Steven’s Pass. When we left the Seattle area that morning, there was a little bit of sun starting to peek out from the clouds. By the time we reached the Gold Bar, there was rain and snow mixed coming down. The last two times I have been it was the middle of summer in 80 degree heat, and the other time in the fall where it was raining. This time I hiked with snow coming down! We started out on the trail as the only people hiking up there on a Monday morning. By the time we were heading out, more people started to show up.  For our hiking adventure we decided to be safe and hike the Railroad Grade part of the trail instead of the Scenic River trail because as we were driving up, the Skyhomish River is currently running very high on its banks, and some parts of the river are flooded or in flood warning.  We started out with a few flurries of snow coming down between the trees. By the time we were half way to the Wallace Falls Lake,  the snow was coming down in big flurries and at that point we both thought it would be better to turn back  for safely reasons.  Hiking up in the snow was a peaceful and tranquil experience. Hearing the sound of the water in the distance rushing down the side of the mountain, and hearing the gurgling of the small streams running down towards the river below. My friend and I kept think why we did not bring our nice DSLs with us for the beautiful snow shots. The trail had a lot of running water, puddles and soft gooey mossy mud. I am so glad for great sturdy hiking boots! I will admit the hike was wet and cold since we did hike it in early spring. So there is no surprise with snow and large amounts of water along the way. At some point, trees made parts of the trail bare to snow, and some parts of the trail started to see accumulation. Thank goodness we did not have to plow through the snow!

Path Through The Woods
Path Through The Woods

Every so often we would stop and take a picture of something along the trail to mark the geological timeline of Wallace Falls. This would be anything from tree trucks, boulders, puddles where water over time accumulated, rock walls, large rotting tree trucks, and the falls themselves. I took a total of ten pictures of my friend standing next to all of theses things (except the falls, that would have been very dangerous!). As we traveled along there were sections of the trail were the falls/river could be seen, below you could see the massive amount of water coming off it was very impressive. I would so not want to be swept away by the sheer force of all that water.

It took a total of two and a half hours to hike up, and back. The total amount of miles we hiked was about four miles, with it being two and half miles both ways. I really like the Railroad Grade trial better than the Scenic one. The elevation up was not a killer, and being short, I don’t have to climb up stuff just to go further along the trail.  So hiking Wallace Falls in early spring in not as bad, but being prepared for possible snow is a factor everyone should note. Plus it is that time of the year where there could be bears coming out of hibernation. We were luck to not run into one along the way. Thank God for that!

Oh and before I forget, the weekend also entailed going to an impromptu Seattle  Sounder’s game against Toronto. Sounder’s only scored one goal and lost the game to Toronto. But who cares when you just having a fun time with free club seating tickets, which has the fantastic view of the field. For some reason I really liked the club seating better than general seating. I think next time I will try to buy club seating tickets for the next match. There will be another game in the near future for the both my boyfriend and I’s birthdays.

St. Patrick’s day Sunday was a homemade shepherds pie, Guinness Stout brownies and drinking the rest of the bottle of stout while my boyfriend was taking a nap. I’m a bad ass English women-I mean Irish women. The shepherd’s pie turned out ok. There is room for improvement with this recipe since there was way too much mashed potatoes than meat filling. I will for next time make more meat filling a less amount of mash potato. As for the stout brownies, well I could not taste the difference between regular and stout ones. I guess that too needs improvement as well.

Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd’s Pie