Sunday, September 21, 2008

Koot Backpacking

The Koots have graciously added me to their roster to show them how great (and wet, windy and cold) backpacking in late September could be. My team-mates for the weekend were my talented and beautiful sister-in-law Shannon, my former boss and favorite dirty-talker Emily, Can-and-will-pack-in-4 bottles-of-wine Christie, and the southern sweetheart/spider-monkey Jill.

I thought that a good introduction to backpacking for these fine ladies would be to take them to Ingalls Lake. It would be a short hike with a big pay-off at a beautiful alpine lake with no shortage of views and hopefully goats.

This plan had been on the books for several weeks, so when the weekend finally rolled around with the promise of lots of rain and wind, we were too committed to turn back. Plus we are clearly hard-core, so we had to go...

After a long night discussing the historical importance of a very informational film "Pearl Harbor" we arose a little later than planned on Saturday morning. We made it to the trail head and started hiking around 11:30am.

It was a beautiful day for a hike, it was high over-cast, cool and no rain - yet. As soon as we crested the ridge and came over Ingalls Pass, we got a small glimpse at what we were in for... the wind was howling.

After low-blood sugar, electrolytes, and some debate about how I might be lying that there is actually a lake up here... we rounded another small pass to find Ingalls Lake. It was all ours, for now. We spent a little time finding the friendliest way around the lake, and in the meantime the rain started to fall... hard.

Once we finally found a good ( as in comfort, not ethics - but that's not important right now) camp-spot, we set up camp, pulled out the 5 bottles of wine (4 of which were miraculously packed in Kristie's backpack!), all of our food and climbed into Kristie and Jills 2-man/5-man tent. For the next 5 hours we would drink wine, enjoy make-shift, pita, brie and salami pizza's, tell amazing stories, make toasts to one-another, do inappropriate things with each-others feet and wait for the rain to die down.

When the wine was gone and Jill fell forward onto her face for the 10th time, we decided to call it quits and head to bed. About this time, Hurricane Gustav showed up blowing what seems like hurricane force winds effectively prohibiting each of us from sleeping a wink.

Finally when the bell tolled 7:00 and we couldn't handle hanging out in our rain-soaked tent, listening to the flapping rain fly any longer. We decided to get up and per Emily's instruction "Get the F**K out of here!!

We had an adventurous hike out, all the while telling good stories, exclaiming in frighteningly low voices "how beautiful" everything was, and dreaming about pancakes.

By 11:30 we were cawing the call of relief as we saw our car in the parking lot. Our adventurous Koot weekend was coming to an end. Despite 40" of rain, hurricane force winds, and sub-standard waterproofing, we had an amazing night out. Hopefully I haven't broken these girls... hopefully they will backpack again...

Thanks ladies, I had a great time. And I think I'd like to make a toast...

Here are some photos:

Here is my traditional, and yes ... mandatory, self portrait...

Here is Emily - always cute while hiking....

Shanny is clever, she always caught me trying to sneak in a photo...

Ingalls Lake

Sorry to embarass you Jill, but we had to document your first-ever trip to the backcountry bathroom. Congratulations! I'd like to make a toast...

This is about the time that the wine made its appearance.

Its raining, but the party must go on...

Kristie and Emily... the wine is making them very friendly.

The smile on Emily's face would indicate that we finally added the Liquor to the Nalgene of hot chocolate. After our night, the liquor was a necessity, and I think it was only 7:30am.

It just looks warm.

Kristie is pointing at K2... yes, we scaled it, yes we are very hardcore... Have you ever heard of it?

Making the way back to Ingalls Pass. All we are talking about at this time is pancakes.

Beautiful sun beams breaking through the clouds at headlight basin.

More of the view. Still can't find the much-anticipated goats.

There was a lot of love in that little tent.(Please disregard my icky spoon)

Monday, September 15, 2008

3 years and 6 days

I know you have already seen this photo, but it is my new favorite so I am posting it again. I wanted to just put something up to say that 3 years and 6 days ago I was an extremely happy lady. For six years, starting on December 18, 1998, I wished on every hay truck, lucky penny, rainbow and every shooting star that I would get to marry Jason Killgore. Finally, 3 years and 6 days ago I did. I have been an extremely happy lady every day since (that's 1101 days and counting!!) Jason may laugh this, but I knew there was something to wishing on hay trucks.

Jason, I love you. Thank you for always coming with me to the mountains, and thank you for always coming home safely.

Weekend on Rainier

Last Friday, I spent the day with a bunch of hard-working friends from Outdoor Research doing trail maintenance at Mt. Rainier National Park.

I figured that with all the time that I spend in the woods and how much I appreciate a well-maintained trail, that the least I could do was put in one day of hard-work.

After a 5:15am wake-up (I am NOT okay with this) I found myself among friends for the drive down to Mt. Rainier. I was feeling great about our day, until I learned how hard we were going to have to work. I suddenly wanted to be back in bed with my hubby.

None the less, the inspirational volunteers from SCA and my talented co-workers/friends from OR helped to get me feeling good about the days adventure.

For some reason the idea of digging a hole sounded like fun to me, so I elected to work on the crew that was going to dig a 8' x 6' hole down to bedrock to place the bracing supports for a new bridge on the Wonderland Trail. Turns out that I really enjoying swinging a pick-axe. I earned the name "pickmanic" for the day.

Here is the spot where the digging began.

Our hard working team consisted of Libby and Amanda ( two extremely hard-working and really cool volunteers from the SCA), my favorite Jeff Greenwell, the "Shoveler" himself Brendan Scanlon, Finance VP and wild-girl Audrey Hicks, and Chris Parks (Jeremy's awesome mom). Here we are hard at work.... who I am kidding... I am not working, I'm playing with my camera.

Jeff is a slacker... and a ham. Look how that hard hat glows.

When the digging was done, we all climbed in it and went to sleep. Actually, we were pumped about the evening of camping under the stars that OR was financing.

Jeff is so proud of our hole.

I hereby elect Brendan Scanlon as the champion of the OR camping trip. Not only did he drive all the way to Enumclaw (which is no-where on the way to Mt. Rainier) to get everyone lunch, he shoveled huge river cobbles for 6 hours straight, made this extremely colorful and very delicious greek dinner, and then played the guitar and sang for us all night around the campfire. What a guy!

I love Coke. She is one of my favorite people on the planet. She apparently had gotten a little frisky last time she was at Mt. Rainier and now she is starting to show with her "Falafel Baby"!

On Saturday, everyone had their own agenda. I ganged up withe Candice, Coke and Teresa for a short hike up to Comet Falls. We became very nervous when Coke pointed out that we were about to enter (insert scary music here) THE WILDERNESS!!! We got scared and drove home instead.

Okay, so we didn't drive home, but we were still scared. Can't you tell? Candice.. there is a fly on your head.

There are tourists with camera's everywhere up here. Sheesh.

I don't think I have a bad photo of Teresa. She is so photogenic. And just look how sweet Candice is...

Yup, here is my mandatory self-portrait in front of Comet Falls.

All in all, it was a beautiful weekend, spent with good friends, doing good for the environment and enjoying some of the best of the PNW. Yet, another sucessful weekend for yours truly.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Necklace Valley

Jason and I spent the last three days in the Necklace Valley to enjoy the last little bit of summer and celebrate our three year anniversary.

Here are a few pics...

This bridge is terrifying. I swear that it is about to fall apart, hence the terrified run across it.

After 8.3 miles and 3,000 feet later, we made it to the Valley. We spent the first night at Locket Lake. Jason wouldn't let us miss it, since someone, somewhere, once said that it was the best alpine fishing anywhere in the Cascades. Clearly Jason looks enthused. Check out the reflection in the lake. It was gorgeous.

I've decided that my ridiculous self portraits will need to happen on every trip. Enjoy, there are many more to come.

Here is our camp at Locket Lake. We were the only ones at the lake. There was a nice guy who camped on the rib overlooking a lower lake. He played Danny Boy on his recorder as the sun was going down. It made for a really cool evening. Note Prusik standing guard. His duties include keeping us safe from squirrels.

Don't worry, Prusik didn't eat the fish. This was his first kiss with a trout though.

I am sorry there are so many pictures of Prusik. He is just so damn photogenic.

Locket Lake.

Although it looks like the Caribbean, my guess would be that the water temperature was right around 32.5F....

Obilgatory husband/wife portrait.

We cruised around for a bit, checking out the lakes and the potential fishing before we found our way to Opal Lake and Cloudy Lake. There was a granite rib that separated the two lakes with an amazing camp-spot right in the middle. We set up camp and got straight to the fishing. Here, Prusik is standing on the cliff about 15 feet above the marshes of Opal Lake.

Anyone who has ever seen me with a fly-rod would doubt that such a thing was possible. But I did land a beautiful, and good-sized Cutthroat. I think I landed about 5 fish the whole trip... good for me... ridiculous when compared to Jason's 30.

Here is the view up Valley (looking at La Bohn Gap) from the western shore of Opal Lake. I'm sure if you look closely you can see how poorly I am casting.

This next photo is Jason in the morning of the third day. But before we get there, I want to go back to the end of our second night, and mention how our wonderful, never-do-anything-wrong dog found a make-shift back-country human latrine, rolled around in it, was found out, hastily grabbed and washed with pack-soap in a frigid alpine creek, got away covered completely in suds, ran to the top of the 15 cliff where our camp was, rolled around on our tent, then proceeded to roll around in the bushes trying to get the soap off of him, until he rolled right over the edge of the 15 foot cliff!! He slipped and rolled slowly grasping dearly with his useless dog claws, until he got his head first and was able to "bounce" off the last ledge before he hit the ground... completely fine. We were able to grab him, dunk him and rinse him. The only problem left is that the sun was almost all the way down and we had a soaking wet dog with whom we got to share a tent for a long, frigid night. Ahhh.... love dogs....

Cuddles to stay warm until the morning sun finally made it across valley to warm us up.

Here is Prusik, post human-poop, cliff fall, dog-washing...

Love how Jason fishes in his glacier glasses...

Yup, more self-portraits/dog photos...

Opal Lake.

Lots and lots of mud makes great shadows in the lake.

Family photo after a hour fishing (for sardines) at Emerald Lake.

End of the day... back at the car. Yay!