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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Deception Pass State Park

For the longest time I have been wanting to visit Deception Pass and the bridge that keeps showing up on my news feed over the past couple of months. Over one holiday weekend Dad and I loaded up the truck with our fishing gear and headed for Deception Pass Park’s Cranberry Lake for some fishing. Along the way we stopped to take in the sight that is Deception Pass Bridge.

On a Friday morning we loaded up the truck with fishing gear and drove an hour and a half up to Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey  Island side to Cranberry Lake. Once there we were greeted by a serene looking lake, and quietness of an early morning fishing spot. The side we ended up on was the east side of Cranberry lake near the entrance to the park’s campground. A half an hour into fishing I had caught my first fish, a medium size striped bass. For some weird reason I was more tickled about catching it than any other fish caught the whole day. Around 8:30am the Navy decided it was time for some training with the F-18 Hornets (Navel Air Base Whidbey is nearby). At one point if you were not awake already, you would have been once one turned on its after burner and then a sonic boom would jolt you awake. After awhile you just became use to the sound roaring over head as they were doing maneuvers over the lake. Later in the morning we ended up with a medium-sized catfish and a very small striped bass which sadly had to be released back into the lake.

After a while I started catching large clumps of water weeds instead of fish. A true disappointment when you think there is a fish on the end of the line giving a fight.


After four hours of fishing we decided it was time to go when more people started showing up and crowding the dock. On the way back home we stopped at the Deception Pass Bridge Park to view the bridge by the same name. This bridge when seen in the flesh is quite a marvel of engineering, and raw beauty nature surrounding the structure in breath-taking. Being on the side of the bridge is a little nerve-wracking when cars are speeding past you close to the narrow strip of concrete you are standing on. But the view was worth the nerve-wracking, and I would never change that feeling.

The water below was a light turquoise color close to the waters around Hawaiian Islands during a rain storm and could see the swirling currents in the channel below. At one point a motor boat was gunning the engine into full throttle to get through the channel to the other side. I have heard in the past people have become stick in these strong currents coming off the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Skagit Bay.

There were plenty of trails to hike down to the beaches along the channel, but I would like to save those for another time when I can devote a whole day to it. I believe another visit will be in store soon, and hopefully it will be on a sunny warm day. Driving back along highway 20, there were two lakes looking very tempting to fish. Pass Lake and Campbell Lake are the next lakes to tryout in the near future.

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North Beach Below

Now I can check this off the bucket list, and hopefully will have the chance to take out-of-state visitors to this wonderful gem close to the San Juan Islands. Maybe I will see them too. Who knows?

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

 

Oahu’s Windward Coast Vacation Days 12-15 (Last Days)

Day 12: Zip lining & Beach

Zipping through the palm tree tops! Three rides 1,200 ft! At first when I saw how far off the ground I was going to be, I started freaking out. I’m not afraid of heights, but it looked to be very scary. Now that I tried it, I will be doing it again. The morning started off with a down pour for five minutes, then cleared up long enough to take three rides down. The first two rides were with Mom , and then the last one was just me by myself. Once I got through the first one, I was fine to take the last two rides down. It was very short ride, and so I recommend getting at least more than one ride to really experience the zip line. I now can add this to my life experience list and hope to try out the one near home called Wild Life Trex near Seattle. The rest of the day was spent at the beach again just relaxing.

Day 13: Marine Base Crazy & Last minute stuff

Another relaxing day getting last-minute stuff done before we leave for home. Took on last trip to the Marine base to do some last-minute shopping at the Exchange. When I stepped outside the store I saw a new sign that appeared in front of the doors. Apparently the new base commander is trying to keep the unmentionable people from “polluting” the base and disrespecting the military environment. So just imagine the pictures you see on People of Wal-Mart website and you have a good picture of what was posted on this sign. These were the things that are not allowed to be worn when on base. I really could see why the commander is doing this and why he doesn’t like half-naked people walking around base when not in uniform. The whole time I was on base (even Bellows had a dress code in their commons areas) I never say anyone out of uniform looking like a bum.  I just go some Hawaiian theme stuff to take back to Seattle at the Exchange.

Relaxed on base for a bit and started to see Man of Wars washed up on the beach. Remembering there was a full moon when we got to Hawaii and five days later the jelly fishes started to appear, every time we walked the beach we had to make sure to watch where we stepped or else get stung by the blue tentacles. Later that evening we all went out with my cousin one last time to a small local pizza place in Kilua.  The place was busy with locals stopping in to grab a slice of pizza or a whole pizza for dinner. The pizzas are huge at Bob’s Pizzeria, and so a whole pizza can easy be shared with five people. I had two big slices which amounted to four small slices.

Now here is a funny story in a way to share….When we went to drop off my cousin at the Marine base, we did not go through the main gate as we have in the past, but he back gate where the housing is. A huge mistake because when we pulled up and my cousin showed his ID, the guard at the gate wanted everyone’s ID. Apparently there is a huge crack down at night due to a Marine sneaking a prostitute on base a few weeks back and getting caught. Also the guard in a moment of putting his boot in his mouth made it almost clear that he thought Nana, Mom and I were prostitutes! Nana and Mom felt offended, but for me I just though “oh thanks for letting me know I look like one.” As I was stating in above paragraph, the commander of the base is really on a crack down. We did drop my cousin off at his barrack without anymore trouble from the Marine Security Force.

Day 14: Sea Turtles

Our last full day in Hawaii. We did some last-minute shopping again and packed up our bags for our afternoon flight back to Seattle. Walked the beach one last time (ok a few times). While on one of our walks we saw a group of sea turtles swimming along the beach. A half a mile down there is a little cove where the waves are strong and the turtles get stuck in. All three turtles tried their hardest to swim back out to sea, but kept getting swept back into the rocks. At one point one came very close to some kids in the water and freaked them out along with the poor turtle. I believe the three turtles did get out when the waves calmed down a bit.

While packing for the trip home, I realized I had bought a lot of Hawaiian food. Hmm…I think I will need it when friends come over for tea and a Hawaiian short bread macadamia nut cookies.

Day 15: Going Home

Going to the airport was crazy stressful adventure. Why? Because 1) my suitcase all of sudden put on weight, 2) security check point was a mad house and I thought for sure I was going to throw my shoe at TSA (Sea-Tac has it down to a science), 3) USDA inspection line was crazy! Poor Nana had to be patted down because she set off the metal detector and her sleep machine had residue of liquid in it. Really just wanted to get on the plane and get to Seattle without anymore stuff happening. The flight was six hours as usual. The only crazy part was landing in Seattle after a huge windstorm came through. Overall, the six-hour flight went off without much stuff happening. When I left Seattle for Hawaii the temperature was 70 degrees F, when I came back it was 50 degrees F and a storm blowing through. Just shows how much the weather changes within two weeks of being gone. I still look at my phone’s weather app for Bellows to see what the weather is at the moment. I miss the warmth, but Seattle did have a wonderful summer with all the sunny hot weather we had. I can’t complain.

I really enjoyed my two-week adventure on Oahu Hawaii. I will of course return to the islands again in the near future. I think the next island to visit is Kauai or Big Island. I am glad I had the chance to see my cousin while he is stationed at K-Bay, and hope he has a great time while there.  I loved not having to do all the touristy things this time. I really got to see the island from a different perspective. I know now all the main freeways, and know which major highways lead to where. Great to stay somewhere other than Waikiki for a change. I really got to see the beauty of the island without the sky scrapers in the way. I still would love to hike up Diamond Head since I did not get the chance this time. I guess I will be making a return visit again.

Mahalo for reading about my adventure in Hawaii! Hope you enjoy Hawaii really soon.

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