Monday, September 16, 2013

One of the best hikes EVER

Dear Briggz,
                        Our next stop was Mount St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. Mount St. Helens was first up. We tried to go to the new visitor center but it closed the day before, so we drove further up to the observatory. When we got there, we checked out a few of the exhibits then went outside to watch/listen to a ranger program. The ranger informed us how Mount St. Helens erupted and how the volcano has remained active. He told us that the volcano has had lots of small eruptions since the devastating 1980 eruption where Mount St. Helens blew herself apart. These smaller eruptions have built up what is called a lava dome. This lava dome looks kind of like the top of the Travelocity gnome’s hat…. Anyway another ranger inside the observatory told us that Mount St. Helens is the most active volcano in the Cascade Range due to seismic activity almost every single day. It’s rare for Mount St. Helens to go day with out some sort of earthquake. The Cascade Range is part of the eastern side of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a ring of land and water consisting of hundreds of volcanoes. 

             The trip to Mt. Rainier took a while no thanks to the GPS. When we got to the visitor center we picked up a trail map and started the 4.6-mile hike. The hardest part was the 2-mile uphill climb at the beginning of the trek. Lunch at Panoramic Point offered great views of a few other mountains within the Cascade Range. The most fun part was sliding down a 200-foot ice pack. We also found a smaller patch of snow and ice and proceeded to have a small but exciting snowball fight. Mount Rainier is also an active volcano but not as active as Mount St. Helens. 
Snowball Fight!!!!!
The steps before our big hike
The snow pack we crossed. Those little dots are the people who walked it before us.

The view we had while eating lunch

Our next stop is at Aunt Florence and Uncle Kings house in WA just north of Seattle.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Dear Briggz,

            We finally arrived at Glacier National Park after a short stop south of Missoula Montana at the Beavertail Campground. We ended up with a great site right next to a small river. One of the things to note was that we were also staying right next to one of several wildfire base camps in the area. Over the last couple week’s crews had been deployed to the surrounding area to fight the wildfires, some consuming thousands of acres of forestland and endangering peoples homes.
One of the afternoons we ventured into Missoula to meet up with Nora, one of our old advisees. We had lunch in the park with her and she showed us a small snapshot of the town of Missoula.

Back to Glacier, I must say that throughout this trip we have had the opportunity to see some amazing sights.  

 None so far have amazed me as much as seeing the mountain peaks of Glacier National Park. We had several days of hiking and among those hikes I would say that the family favorite would be the hike to Hidden Lake. The trail begins with a moderate climb up a boardwalk set of stairs, yes I said stairs, the park rangers must have been thinking of us. The hike continues for another half mile or so after the boardwalk ended. Along the way we saw a good-sized Marmot. Honestly Briggz, this thing looked just like your Eddie chew toy. The Marmot had become way to accustomed to people because it just came right up to us as if it were asking for a photo op. 
Is that Eddy???

When we arrive at the Hidden Lake overlook we were all put at peace with the beauty. The lake is still in a glacial transition is surrounded by several mountain peaks, Bear cap being one of the foremost influential to the sustainability of the lake and wildlife that call it home.We would have loved to continue our hike down to the lake itself, but it would have proved too difficult for 5 y/o legs. On the return trip from the overlook we were able to spot a mountain goat grazing on one of the mountainsides, and two big horn sheep that seemed to be making their way towards the lake. 

We took a side trail to a spot where we were able to touch the snow that remains on the mountain year round. Another one of our favorite hikes was to St. Mary’s Falls and onto Virginia Falls.
the boys at Virginia Falls

We awoke every morning to the views of Singleshot Mountain. Almost like clockwork each morning, we were able to spot a bald eagle scouting the lake looking for a fresh catch from above. We took a ride down the Going-to-the Sun Road, which offered us another view from the interior of the awesome park. The view of Bird Lady Falls as we wound through and in between valleys was amazing. 
We returned each day exhausted from the hike physical demands but with much more appreciation and gratitude for what we were able to accomplish.
During our time there we were able to reflect on the nature around us and I would like to say that we have developed a better appreciation for our natural surroundings. We live and work in such beautiful lands and it is through trips like this that open our eyes not only to how these landscapes were formed, but also to how the choices we make in our everyday lives, affect the future of these lands.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Dear Briggz,

            Yellowstone may be big but there are wall-to-wall tourists!  A good percentage of them are very rude as well. We decided to follow the advice of one of the park rangers and go on a “short hike from Biscuit Basin to Old Faithful”. We were told that it would be a 2-mile hike, no problem right??? WRONG!!  We did get to Old Faithful and along the way we saw many other geysers and hot springs. But when we happened to question another ranger as to the length of our hike he informed us that it was more like 6 miles.  Whew! Anyway we caught Old Faithful at the right time and only had to wait 10 minutes for it to erupt. Not bad huh?  The hike back was long but we made it to Pokey with a few tired legs.  
C's legs could not take the hike back so J carried him 2.5 miles on his back! now that's brotherly love.

Old Faithful

That night we attended the nightly ranger program and turned in for the night in preparation for another long day ahead of us.
The next day we had a slow start. We spent the majority of the day at our campsite. The boys spent a lot of time riding their bikes while mom and dad spent time trying to plan our next campsite. The boys also took a dip in the river that was located behind our site. Mom and dad decided to soak their feet a bit. That water was cold.  We could see several people fly fishing down stream. A much needed quiet day at the park.
The third day we decided that we needed to get off of our butts, so we headed out in search for a few more sites. There are tons of hot springs and geysers. To think that there is volcanic activity below us is amazing. There was so much to see and we quickly realized that we would leave Yellowstone only having seen a very small percentage.   

That evening we decided to head to West Yellowstone Montana to take in a rodeo. Well we saw some broncos and bulls. Nobody said it would be like the “PBR”, Professional Bull Riding, but it was fun. The boys were able to take part in a cow scramble where they chased a calf trying to remove a ribbon that was loosely attached to its tail. Avery also won a dance off!! The worm is still affective as a dance move!!

A after winning the dance contest

A and C in the calf scramble.  Trying to remove a ribbon from a calf's tail
The next morning we would rise early to go white water rafting.
After an early morning drive through Mammoth to the North entrance of Yellowstone just outside of Gardiner Montana, The Yellowstone Raft Company was our destination. We had a quick intro to rafting. Mom and Dad were selected to sit up front a set the pace for the other paddlers. C sat between us, J was behind Mom and A was in the middle behind C. Each of the boys took turns “riding the bull” which means that they sat on the “bow” of the raft. We were on class 3 rapids. We each got the opportunity to take a dip in the water as well. Seeing the mountains of Yellowstone from the river was awesome. We all had a great time, and built on some life long memories.

For our final day we chose to go see the Prismatic hot spring. It is hands down the most colorful and hot spring in Yellowstone. We viewed it from ground level and then decided to take a small hike to a nearby mountain for a bird’s eye view. Looks like the postcard!!
We had a great time in Yellowstone but it is time to move on. Glacier National Park is in our sights!! 

Will write again soon,