Category Archives: photography

Harpo’s crappy wildlife photos

bird at Ennis Lake

cows in Tobacco Roots

wolf?

Grizzly print in Bob Marshall wilderness

bear buddy

ground squirrel in Glacier

marmot in Glacier

bear buddy in Glacier

bull moose just outside Yellowstone

bison in yellowstone speciman ridge

prong horned antelope speciman ridge

group of pronghorned antelope in Winds

groucho elk on speciman ridge

fish in spanish peaks

bison in yellowstone

dragonfly in lamar valley

bear print

pelican prints Yellowstone/Tetons


hawk near Lava Mountain

bear print


grouse in Winds, Wyoming

pika buddy, winds

PCT Memories 2015

Trip Report for Lake 22: spring fever

The snow-free basin, photo as seen from the foot bridge - photo by dk

The snow-free basin, photo as seen from the foot bridge – photo by dk

Northwest School of Mystical Hikers Trip Report
Lake 22 (Mountain Loop Highway, WA)
March 29, 2015
6 miles (including lake loop), 1350 ft elevation gain
Hikers: Harpo, dk, 3D

3D and Harpo at the Trail Head - photo by dk

3D and Harpo at the Trail Head – photo by dk

Harpo Sez:

It’s been so beautiful in the NW with very little chill and even littler precipitation this winter. Thus we decided to take an early trip up to the Mountain Loop Highway and check out this old favorite – Lake 22.

This trail is delightful. Beautiful and well maintained. Little streams are running steady throughout the trip, and there are several little creeks crossing the trail at time, providing gentle obstacles to jump over or hop through. The path is nicely graded and even though it was a Sunday and the parking lot is full, the trail rarely seemed congested.

After about 2.7 miles of mild climbing we came to the lake and there was zero snow. Expected, but sadly, still a little shocking.

We easily traversed the boardwalk all the way around the lake, stopping for a coffee break next to the boulder garden where there is typically snow and mud.

The way back was super breezy and fun loving with these beautiful people…

Susan (3D) and dk sitting where there is usually snow this time of year - at Lake 22 - March 29, 2015

3D and dk sitting where there is usually snow this time of year – at Lake 22 – March 29, 2015

dk tests out the chrome dome - photo by 3D

dk tests out the chrome dome – photo by 3D

View from our coffee break spot - photo by dk

View from our coffee break spot – photo by dk

hand mudras - photo by 3D

hand mudras – photo by 3D

stylin' rain gear - photo by 3D

stylin’ rain gear – photo by 3D

lots of streams - photo by dk

lots of water – photo by dk

Panorama of Lake 22 - photo by dk

Panorama of Lake 22 – photo by dk

FOR COMPARISON’S SAKE… here are a few photos from my archive. This is what Lake 22 looks like in winter. Often some of this snow stays until even May or June… but not this year.

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AT vs PCT death match

The other big lady - Harpo & Groucho's stealth spot on day 3 of their AT hike - Katahdin viewed from Rainbow Lake (July 2013)

East Coast Big Lady – Harpo & Groucho’s stealth spot on day 3 of their AT hike – Katahdin viewed from Rainbow Lake (July 2013)

Now that we’ve announced we’re hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this summer, we’ve been getting some questions about how this journey will differ from our 2013 AT thru hike. For honest journalisms-sake, we’ll have to give you an update on that when we finish. But for now here are some quick thoughts based on research and good ol’ fashioned hearsay:

Mileage
The PCT is just under 2700 miles, while the AT is just under 2200 miles.

Trail Condition
The PCT is graded and maintained for pack animals and thus has more switchbacks, nicer quality trail surface, and less scrambling. The PCT traverses through higher elevation mountains (10,000-14,000 footers as opposed to 4000-6000 footers), and so there may be some brief bits of snow travel, especially in the North Cascades in WA or Sierras in California, depending on when we get to those spots.

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This is an example of the “trail” in Maine. A bare rock slab going straight up hill with crevices for foot/hand holds rendered slippery and useless by the frequent rain. The easiest way to get up, even with a 20lb pack, was literally to get a running start (i.e. sheer force of will.)

Elevation Change
We’ve seen varying numbers on the exact number of elevation gain/loss over time on the AT or PCT (or CDT for that matter). But we’ve been told by thru hikers of both treks that 30 miles on the PCT feels like 20 miles on the AT, because of trail quality and gentler elevation profiles. This recent blog post by reputable hiker/mapper Guthook (whose apps are fantastic BTW), suggests the following in this blog post:

Overall elevation gain/loss on Appalachian Trail: 917,760′ over 2185.3 mi (avg: 420’/mi)
Overall elevation gain/loss on Pacific Crest Trail: 824,370′ over 2668.8 mi (avg: 309’/mi).
Overall elevation gain/loss on Continental Divide Trail: 917,470′ over 3029.3 mi (avg: 303’/mi).

A Hard Day's Night

Harpo climbs a sleep & slippery talus slope, seemingly out of the clouds, towards Chairback Gap lean-to

Hiking Time
Who knows. Any number of things can impact how long a hike takes, including your personal pace, quality of terrain, elevation gain, your efficiency with hiking chores like water filtration or setting up your sleep system or eating, weather, length of hitching to resupply, amount of time spent in town resupplying, number of zero (non-hiking days) you take, injury/illness, trail closures due to fire, well… you get the point. But generally speaking, someone who has already thru hiked has figured out how to be efficient at hiking/camping, and so barring injury, illness, or other unexpected detours, we’ve heard that it might take 2-4 weeks LESS time to hike the PCT even though it has more miles, because of the aforementioned trail conditions and our previous experience. We’re thinking it will take 4-5 months.

time saver… we were contemplating hitching to town to go to the brewery/hostel and then some nice day hikers gave us trail magic - rejuvenating our spirits, saving us a trip to town and precious minutes!

time saver… we were contemplating hitching to town to go to the brewery/hostel and then some nice day hikers gave us trail magic – rejuvenating our spirits, saving us a trip to town and surreptitiously providing us several extra happy hours of hiking.

Traffic on Trail
Last year on the AT 653 Northbound thru hikers, and 76 Southbound thru hikers claimed to have finished the entire trail (about 20% of those who attempted it.) The PCT currently collects and publishes less data about thru hikers, but at least 336 people reported a completed thru hike in 2014 (the PCTA thinks about 50% of people who attempt a PCT thru hike finish.) Due to the cultural zeitgeist around thru hiking also fueled through the recent movies “Wild” about the PCT and “A Walk in the Woods” about the AT, traffic is increasing dramatically in recent years. However, most (like 80-90%) of those hikers begin their journeys in California and hike northbound (NOBO). Beginning in Washington and hiking southbound (SOBO) we expect significantly less thru hiker traffic on the trail than our AT experience. This should be good for our meditation practice 🙂

Views
The states of Maine and New Hampshire offer the only above-treeline hiking on the AT. While we experienced much beauty both in the NE and along the whole AT, we expect more epic vistas and geologic diversity on the PCT as we travel along ridge lines, maybe thru snow fields, in proximity of Rainer, Hood, Shasta and Whitney, and then thru the Sierras down into the desert near Joshua Tree.

Big Lady - dinner at a stealth spot just inside the Rainier National Park

West Coast Big Lady – Groucho’s stealth spot on a PCT section-hike – just inside the Rainier National Park (August 2014)

Water
For the first half of the AT, water was plentiful. We sometimes felt guilty even treating water because it was pouring cold and strong from a pure spring out the side of a mountain. Once we reached the halfway mark in Pennsylvania in September we started running into dry sources, needing to sometimes hike .5-1 mile off trail for water. This continued intermittently into Virginia and Tennessee until winter precipitation began.

On the PCT we’ll have a crazy different challenge when we get to the desert in the fall. We’ve heard about 30+ mile stretches without sources, and the need to carry 6-10 litres in the heat of the summer. Thankfully there is a frequently updated water report that we’ll be able to print out on a daily or weekly basis to help with our planning. If anyone sees a camel for sale on ebay or something, let us know…

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There was so much water in the northern section of the AT that we were often walking in/on/thru it.