Amanda's Great Adventures: Volume 1
August 1, 2005 Lake Quinault, WA, 11.6 miles
I camped last night here at the Willaby Campground. Ryan and I camped here last year. This is the first time I ever camped by myself, so I was a little nervous. Everything went great. I got the tent up and I decided to be safe and put the rainfly on. Boy am I glad I did! In the middle of the night it started to rain. I awoke with a start, but luckily I had kept a neat campsite and everything was in the car or in the tent!
And luckily the rain stopped this morning. I am glad because I don't like to slog around in the rain. First thing, I went on a short hike to find some local letterboxes. From the campground up the Lake Quinault Loop Trail and back, I found one out of the two letterboxes that I was looking for. Then it was breakfast and a drive along gravel road to the Graves Creek Trailhead. When I got to the trailhead, I was surprised to see a ton of cars. I suppose all those people are on backpacking trips to the Enchanted Valley in the Olympic National Park. This trailhead leads up that way. The sign at the trailhead says: "In 1890, U. S. Army Lieutenant Joseph O'Neil led an expedition to map and explore the inner Olympic Peninsula. Weeks after leaving Hood Canal, O'Neil's party came out along this river. They had to cut their way through the underbrush and windfall. Pack mules slipped from steep ledges or were spooked by bears, cougars and yellow-jackets. Today's trail is open and well-marked. But it leads to the same roadless solitude that O'Neil discovered." I picked this trail to the Pony Bridge because it was relatively easy and flat. A very slight incline! You could tell that horses use this trail, there were lots of horse apples along the way. I only saw a couple of other people, it was a lot less crowded than Mt. Rainier where I left Ryan. At Pony Bridge, there is a kind of canyon or gorge and it is very pretty.
Next I headed over to the North Fork Trailhead. It was on the other side of the lake. This would be a shorter hike and even easier! Again, there were a ton of cars at the trailhead and the trailhead to the Irely Lake hike was full with no parking spaces left! (I had considered that hike as well.) The sun had come out and it was much warmer, so I changed into shorts from the long pants I was wearing earlier. This hike was different in that it followed along the riverbed. It was very flat and had neat views of the river every once and awhile. The sign at this trailhead said, "In 1890, the first explorers to cross the Olympic interior struggled six months to get here from Elwha River. Now on a well-marked trail, you can hike their route in less than a week. Pack mules carried 1500 pounds of equipment for the five men: tent, blankets, ammunition for rifles, snowshoes, tools, flour, bacon, coffee and cooking pots. For food they depended mostly on game."
When I returned to the car, I was bushed, I had done more than 11 miles of hiking today. It was time for Ice Cream. I went back to the Lake Quinault store and bought some Ben and Jerry's Phish Food—my favorite :o)—and I proceeded to pig out. The rest of the evening was for relaxing at the campsite. After dusk, I made myself a campfire. I picked this campsite specifically because the previous tenant had left behind a stack of firewood! I roasted some marshmallows and cooked hot dogs too.
August 2, 2005 Lake Quinault, WA, 2.5 miles
Up early this morning and wrapped up the campsite. I got everything stowed in the car and I had one more letterbox to look for on the Gatton Creek Trail. I parked by the Post Office at Lake Quinault and did this quick little trail. Success! Found the letterbox! I was disappointed after missing the one box yesterday.
Then I went around to the North Shore of the lake to do the little one mile Kestner Homestead Trail. I find these old homesteads fascinating. I have hiked around some in California too. There was a pamphlet available at the trailhead describing the daily life of the pioneer family in the 1900's, along with historic pictures too.
On the way back to Seattle, I stopped at the Elma Timberland Library for two letterboxes there. The library tries to promote letterboxing in the area, but it hasn't really taken hold with the locals. I had to get back and wash up to go to work this evening. I'll be doing more hiking on my layover in Seattle on Thursday.
August 4, 2005 Discovery Park, Seattle, WA, 6 miles
Not a cloud in the sky and 87 degrees with a breeze off of the sound! What could be better than to be outside on a day like this in Seattle? I decided to go to Discovery Park and find Bethany's West Point Mule Letterbox. It has a six mile option and I was planning to do it the long way to rack up the mileage for the hike-a-thon! :o) I slathered on the sunscreen and grabbed my hat. Driving over to the park, I caught a glimpse of the Blue Angels. They are practicing today for the air show this weekend for Seafair. The bridges over Lake Washington will be closed while they are practicing and for the show, which is one reason why I chose to go to Discovery Park today. It's on this side of the lake.
Lots of folks at the park today and several busloads of kids. But the walk along the beaches from the lighthouse to the North End was surprisingly free from the crowds! Most of them were congregating along the bluffs for the views from above. After finding the letterbox and making my way back to my car, I stopped off at the Red Mill for a cheeseburger and a Boysenberry shake! I'm going to have to stop rewarding myself! :o)
August 6, 2005 Des Moines Creek Trail, SeaTac, WA, 2 miles
Another gorgeous day in Seattle! I headed down to SeaTac to avoid any SeaFair traffic around town and got in a couple of miles on the Des Moines Creek Trail. It is a nice paved trail just south of the airport. I like it because I can see the underbellies of all the jets taking off and landing at Sea Tac! Today they were landing to the north. The blackberries are ripening also and I was able to stop for "snacks" along the way.
The only other folks on the trail were bikers today.
August 7, 2005 Coal Creek Trail and Primrose Trail, Issaquah, WA, 4 miles
I waited until late in the day to go out to Issaquah, because I knew that the I-90 bridge would be closed while the Blue Angels air show was going on for SeaFair. So I started out at 2pm to go across Lake Washington. When I started across the bridge, I noticed that there were a bunch of cars stopped on the shoulder and there were bi-planes zooming around the lake! So I found a VW sized place to pull over and I stopped to watch also. I think these were the Red Baron Pizza Bi-Planes and they perform in air shows all over the country. They were fantastic. They would go up and stall and come falling back down to the lake and then do all these barrel rolls in one direction and then in the other direction. I was amazed. And I have never seen planes do aerobatics before! I sat and watched for about 10-15 minutes and then the cops came and made us all move! All of the cars that were pulled over to the shoulder, the cop would get behind us and blast the siren and announce on his bullhorn. "This is not a parking lot, move your car or be towed!"
So I drove on to Cougar Mountain. I really enjoy hiking at Cougar Mountain and I do it quite a bit, especially from the Red Town trailhead. This was the site of a former mining town. In 1883, the town had 750 residents and produced coal for steamships, railroads and the city of San Francisco. Prospectors and coal miners worked Cougar Mountain for nearly 100 years, digging coal, waste rock and clay. There are abandoned coal mining shafts, water falls and a restored meadow that was once a baseball field in the 1920s.
So there is really a lot of history there.
I hiked along the Coal Creek Trail. I especially picked this trail because it was relatively flat! :o) I took the Primrose Trail to make a loop out of it. The Primrose Trail drops down to the creekside and is a little more scenic. There were a couple of families hiking here today. The Redtown trailhead parking lot was full (this being Sunday and a gorgeous day too!) but not too many folks come to this trail, even though it is an easier trail to hike than the others on Cougar Mountain. I don't know why. Perhaps because you have to cross the road to get to it.
I didn't reward myself with ice cream today! Instead, I had salmon.