Better than a walk around the neighborhood

We weren’t in the mood for an all day adventure so we found a hike that was less than 10 miles away from home and less than three miles round trip with little elevation gain. We ended up selecting Around the Lake Trail.

Lakes are generally nice so there would be a view better than just the trail and the woods, right? Well… generally that is true. But this hiked ended up being, in the words of Barb, “notably non-memorable.”

It wasn’t bad in any way. It just wasn’t anything great.


One of the main attractions of this hike was a short branch of the trail called “Bus Trail”. This was the bus. I suspect its history is less interesting than all the bullet holes might suggest.

IMG_3684I’ve seen bigger and nicer ponds than this lake.

IMG_3692I’m sorry. This doesn’t qualify as a “lake”. This is a wet spot which should be drained and made into a meadow.

IMG_3691A fair amount of the trail was close to being a sidewalk.

IMG_3694Then there was the section of the trail that is fenced in.

IMG_3704This might be fun for kids of the appropriate age but we didn’t bother to check it out.

We did have fun with a short game of “Where’s Barb?”


There was some scenery that was pleasurable to look at and it was certainly better than a walk around the neighborhood.

Franklin Falls

It is very hot this weekend and Barb went looking for a hike that wasn’t too long and with very little elevation gain. Franklin Falls met our criteria.

It was crowded and it is easy to see why. The trail was mostly wide and smooth. The trail was shaded and while it was 90 F at home it was 72 F at the trail head. Only at the very end was it a little bit sketchy with a steep drop off on one side:


The actual falls were nice too:


The bridge you see in the upper left of the picture above is the west bound lanes of I-90 just west of Snoqualmie Pass. As Barb said, “I had no idea this was here.”

Grove of the Patriarchs

After our unexpected adventure on Saturday we took it a lot easier on Sunday morning.

We hiked the Grove of the Patriarchs Loop in the Mount Rainier National Park. It’s less than 1.5 miles and has about 50 feet of elevation gain. And the trail is wide and flat:


The trees, while no match for Sequoias or Redwoods, were pretty cool. Some were 1000+ years old.


As is usual in much of Western Washington there was a lot of moss:


There was a cute little bridge to cross:


And much of the trail was what we considered “just about our level” after the previous day of exertion:


This was kind of interesting. A bunch of little trees growing out of an old fallen tree:


I’m 6’ 3” so this gives you a little bit of scale for some of the trees:


This is Barb pretending to be a starfish in the same tree:


It was a pleasant hike with nothing particularly dramatic to see and a low probability of another “unexpected adventure”.

Barb and Joe’s unexpected adventure

It started out with a mistake on my part. I got a call from Bloodworks Northwest on Tuesday asking me to donate blood. I made an appointment for the following evening and a couple minutes after I got off the phone I remembered Barb and I were going to go hiking on Mount Rainer over the weekend. Rats! I’m going to be hiking up mountains at high altitudes while a pint low on blood. It figures. I did the same thing when we went to Yosemite a couple years ago. Continue reading

Rattlesnake Ridge

Barb, Maddy (Barb’s daughter), and I went on a hike up to Rattlesnake Ridge yesterday. It was cloudy and there was some precipitation but not bad. It was about two miles each way with quite bit of elevation gain. Because of the dreary weather I hadn’t anticipated there being any great photo opportunities so I didn’t bring my SLR with me.

The view was nicer than I expected and we took a few photos with our phones:



Pretty pictures

Last weekend Barb and I went to California for Stanford’s Parents Weekend. It is Barb’s daughter, Maddy, who is attending there and I was mostly along for support such as carrying heavy objects, navigation, and donating excess heat to Barb as needed. It was colder than we expected and we even had rain. I’m not really complaining about it. Mostly just trying to rub it in a bit to others. While others were dealing with snow and cold we went for a walk on the beach.

When not performing my normal duties I took pictures. We drove to Venice Beach and hiked a little more than 1.5 miles south were some of the prettier ones were taken. Some other time I’ll post pictures of the two mile long particle accelerator we toured.

As shown by the unruly hair it was a little windy.


It was a little bit cold. We only saw three women in bikinis and I only saw one of them get into the water. While we were glad we brought coats and long sleeve shirts for a time it was comfortable with short sleeved shirts.

We saw a group of about 15 or 20 people on horseback. I’ve never ridden horse on a beach before. I might like to try it sometime. But it probably would have to be without Barb. She doesn’t care for riding horses.

This is probably a radar station but I preferred to think of it as a giant golf ball on a tee.

There were a fairly large number of seagulls and I was a bit concerned they were on “bombing runs” sometimes when they flew over but they were actually well behaved.

I took this one with my phone. I wish I had used my SLR. With a longer focal length Barb would not have been so distorted in size compared to Maddy and the higher resolution would have made it something I would have cropped a little bit, printed, framed, and hung on the wall.

This is probably my favorite. The dramatic clouds. The active ocean. The disappearing tire track. Even the seagulls in the distance really appeal to me.

Mount Saint Helens

For the 4th of July this year Barb, her daughter Maddy, and I decided to go hiking near Mount Saint Helens. I have been interested in going for years but it just never worked out. This year we made it happen.

Mount Saint Helens exploded on May 18, 1980 and created the largest debris avalanche in recorded history. I heard the boom from it over a 100 miles away in Kirkland Washington. The ash from it fell on our farm in Idaho 275 miles away. I still have a pound or so of the ash that was swept off of the patio from my parents house.

We went on an eight mile (round trip) hike through part of the area destroyed by the high speed avalanche and blast from the explosion. We walked to within five miles of the crater. You might think five miles is a long way away. But the eruption killed trees 17 miles away. The scale of the destruction is amazing.

Taking a picture of something five miles away with the wide angle lens in an ordinary cell phone usually results in the object being invisible. This is not the case with Mount Saint Helens:

Continue reading

Zion National Park

Two weekends ago we visited Zion National Park in Utah. We were visiting Las Vegas and since gambling doesn’t hold that much interest for us we drove to Zion National Park and spent most of the day there.

As Barb said, more than once, “When you see it you understand why they made certain areas National Parks.” Zion has a resemblance to Yosemite in that what Barb said about it also applies, “Meh. Maybe I’m getting spoiled but one stunning view looks pretty much like another.”

Yup. That pretty much describes Zion. It’s not surprising the park gets over a million visitors per year.

This was on our drive to Zion Canyon. I think it might have actually been in Arizona. We crossed the Northwest corner of it on our way.

Another picture that probably is in Arizona.

You just expect to see Wiley Coyote and Road Runner zip by you any moment. Is the dust in the picture below from them?

Again, probably in Arizona or outside the park near St. George Utah.

It’s beautiful to visit but Barb and agree there is no way we would want to live there. We like the tree covered mountains, rivers, and lakes too much to spend much time away.

The rest of the pictures are from inside the park and I’ll mostly let them speak for themselves.


Close up of the upper right corner of the picture above it. Notice the size of the trees to get a clue as to the scale.



There were some people climbing the cliffs. A small group of people were pointing at someone on this cliff. I couldn’t really see it so I took a picture with my telephoto lens, then zoomed in on the spot they were point at then asked them if this was what they were looking at:


Yup. Just as I thought. It was just a rock formation.




I sweat easily

It doesn’t take much to cause me to break out into a sweat. A tiny bit of exercise and I start sweating. Even the spices in the mildest spaghetti sauce will cause my forehead to start sweating.

It turns out my fear of heights triggers an increased heart rate and sweat—just from looking at this picture I took when I was in Yosemite last month:


Update: Here is a cropped version of the same picture:


Visualize where his center of gravity is versus his right foot. He’s taking a picture so he isn’t using much more than his proprioception and ears to maintain his balance.

Now give me a towel to wipe the sweat off.

I had to look away after taking the picture. It made me way too uncomfortable.

Barb wanted to look over a similar edge about 50 yards away. When she got within about eight feet I asked her to stop. It was making me too uncomfortable. She got down on her hands and knees and continued. As she got to within about two feet I again asked her to stop. She stretched out and looked over to my extreme discomfort. She pulled back and said, “That’s a long way down.”


I don’t know why she is smiling unless for some bizarre reason she likes my sweat.

Do you believe in mermaids?

Today Barb L. and I went to Flaming Geyser State Park (Washington State). This was the “stomping grounds” of Ted Bundy and The Green River Killer. In fact the Green River runs right through the park:

Map picture

As we were entering the park I told Barb L. the story of when Barb S. her mom, and I came to the park about 30 years ago. Barb’s mom, Joy, used to tell the story of that visit. Some guy started talking to Barb and quickly left when Barb said that her husband was “just over there taking a nap”. Joy thought the guy was acting strange and she was very suspicious. She would point out that Barb S. looked a lot like the victims of Ted Bundy and her recollection of the guy at the park was consistent with Ted Bundy.

It was sort of a strange feeling as Barb L. and I pulled in and parked. There, just a couple hundred feet away, was “The Green River” so famous for all the women killed and dumped near or in it.

We shrugged off the feeling and found the trail to the flaming geyser. It’s not much. For a while when hole was drilled (coal exploration), back around 1900, the flame would be as high as five or six feet. Now it’s about five or six inches (see also the picture associated with this tweet):


We found a geocache nearby. It was the first one I had looked for in a long time.

We then found the trail that went into the woods a couple hundred yards to the “bubbling geyser”. If you looked closely you could see bubbles coming up through the water. We hung around for a few minutes then some guy showed up on the trail above us with his dog and just stood there. I figured he was waiting for us to leave so I suggested we go because we really came for a hike, not to stand around and talk.

We hiked up the little hill to the trail where the guy and the dog were. The dog really wanted to approach us but the man had him on a leash and held him close. I slowly reached out my hand and let the dog sniff it. The guy started talking to us and told us a little about his dog. Then asked if we had been down the trail by the river to the Indian hieroglyphics. We told him no but that sounded interesting. He gave us directions then asked, “Do you believe in mermaids?” We smiled, and said no. He then started telling us stories about Indian paintings of people with big fins for feet and a hand coming out of fisherman’s nets and taking a swipe at the fisherman. “I believe”, he told us. As Barb and I started edging on down the trail he started talking about the UFOs (see also this tweet).

We strolled on down the trail in the direction of where the hieroglyphics might be. The guy and his dog passed us and disappeared on ahead. We found the trail near the river and followed it for a while in the proper direction until it petered out in thick brush and trees. We decided we weren’t so interested that we wanted to push through the brush. Then the voice of Mermaid Believer came to us, invisible through the brush ahead of us, “The river’s too high. You can’t get there easily now.”

Okay then. Time to head back out. We walked back toward the picnic area with Barb checking to make sure she had her knife with her. I told her, “And you know how to use my gun if need be and I’m not able to do so.”

We went back to the picnic area and there was Mermaid Believer again. He was a couple hundred feet away on the other side of the picnic area moving parallel to us. We went back to the car and I got out my telephoto lens and camera and managed to take just one picture of him before he ducked behind what we believe was his vehicle:

That was interesting.

We found another trail and went on up the trail with Barb telling me “women raped and killed while hiking in the woods” stories from the knife class she took last weekend.

Our trail made a loop and we arrived back in the picnic area 20 or 30 minutes later. Mermaid Believer, his dog, and his pickup were gone.

I have just one question for you… “Do you believe in mermaids?”

Super moss!

On November 11th Barb L. and I went on a hike to Wallace Falls. As usual it was an interesting hike. The falls are very pretty. The elevation gain is 1200 feet which is noticeable but not extreme. The trail starts out very wide and easy but gradually gets more difficult. Plan on spending about a half day to get in, enjoy the view, and back out. It takes about two hours each direction. A little than that getting in and a little less getting out if you don’t spend too much time resting and admiring the view. Take water (we didn’t and were sorry) and perhaps a snack.

On the way out my left knee started aching (from old tennis injuries) and it required some ibuprofen for a few days afterward.

This is in the Cascades and the area gets a lot of rainfall. I took some pictures of the moss to which Barb exclaimed, “Super Moss!” Yeah, I guess you could say that:




The trail goes beyond the upper falls but hikers are strongly cautioned to be prepared if you continue:



There were of course other interesting things to take pictures of:

Middle Falls

Upper Falls

Hiking in the Cascades

I had originally planned other activities but the weather forecast said “0% chance of precipitation” for a few hours today. The forecast beyond that looks a lot like rain until the end of time.

With a few seconds of conversation Barb L. agreed to go on a hike with me and suggested a place she had been a few years earlier. I got a little winded climbing up to the top of the waterfalls but it was more than worth the effort:







It reminded me a lot of another hike I went on five years ago and told the gist of the story to Barb as we hiked. This is not Missouri.

Hiking on Mount Hood

Yesterday Barb and I went on a hike on Mount Hood. Some of the details are on my Twitter feed herehere, here, here, here, here, here, and here. A few of the pictures:

Impressive mountain but not as pretty as Mount Rainer where we spent our anniversary a few years ago.

Yes, I was open carrying the entire way. No one said anything but Barb said some people were looking.

We got as high as 7000 feet. I could have gone further but Barb had some tight muscles and was tired.

Some people were carrying skis and snow boards. We didn’t actually see anyone come down the mountain on them though.

 Mount Jefferson in the background is almost 50 miles away.
Even without Barb in the picture it was a nice view.

 Lots of interesting plant life at the higher altitudes.
It appeared there had been larger trees here at one time.

Quote of the day–Chuck Bloom

As a strong supporter of the country’s National Parks System, I just don’t see a logical reason why anyone would want to carry a concealed weapon into such naturally beautiful places like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Redwoods, Crater Lake, Grand Teton or any of the national parks.

Is someone seriously afraid of being accosted or robbed by Old Faithful or El Capitan? Are there criminals hiding out in the Petrified Forest?

These places should be off limits to such practices because of the presence of children. Just because you have the right to pack heat on a vacation doesn’t mean you should.

Chuck Bloom
Plano, Texas
… but what about the children?
August 21, 2009
[A extraordinary clear example of scrambled thinking on the gun issue. Perhaps the reason he doesn’t see a logical reason for carrying a gun in the national parks is because he is severely logic impaired.

What does being “a strong supporter of the country’s National Parks System” or their natural beauty have to do with concluding there is no “logical reason” to carry a concealed weapon?

Even his straw-men of “being accosted or robbed by Old Faithful or El Capitan” is extraordinarily weak.

Criminal do their thing where they have the opportunity, means, and high probability of accomplishing their goal. If their thing involves robbing or hurting people the remote location and disarmed status of their victims in the remote parks can be good hunting grounds. One does not have life insurance for only when their risk is high, such as when traveling by car. They have life insurance for all occasions. And so it is with carrying defensive tools. If you knew you were going to be attacked you wouldn’t go there. But you don’t know so you carry defensive tools wherever and whenever you can. And not all of the threats are human:

Sign in Glacier National Park

Bear in Glacier National Park.

And finally, “because of the presence of children”? Come on, can any anti-gun person offer a plausible defense for that statement? Do children not need to be defended against violent attacks? Is it better to let them be injured or killed than for them to see a bear get shot? Is it better for them to see their mother raped and/or killed than to see the attacker stopped in his tracks by a gun in the hands of his or her parents?

I actually did use my gun while hiking through a state park with my kids several years ago. There was a rattlesnake near the edge of the trail. It was a threat both to us and other hikers that perhaps would not have seen and avoided it. From a safe distance I put a 9mm FMJ bullet through it’s head. The kids did not seem to have suffered any short or long term adverse effects from the use of the gun in their presence. They even seemed relieved after the threat was neutralized.–Joe]

I must be getting old

Barb, Kim, son-in-law Caleb, and I went boat camping over the weekend. We left Friday morning and got back yesterday.

After setting up camp on Friday we noticed some rocks up on the opposite side of the lake that we thought would be a nice place to hike and take some pictures. Here is an aerial view. In the picture below, on the upper right, you can see the rocks:

View from our campsite.

On Saturday morning we packed up our cameras, some water, and walkie-talkies. Barb said it looked like too tough of a climb and stayed with our old dogs who would have to been carried (little lap sitters, they are more like cats than dogs anyway). We took the boat across the lake and found a sandy beach to tie the boat up to:

Kim ready to hop off the boat for our hike up the hill.

On the way up the hill we found at least two sets of bones from deer that had been considered food by some other animals (photos by Kim):

It was steep, there was no trail except for occasional game trails, and I had to stop, rest, and drink some water a few times. But it was a nice view when we got to the top (photo by Kim): 

Caleb inspects the edge.

View from the top.

We called back to camp and told Barb we had made it and asked that she come out of the trees near the tents to where we could see her. It was about a half mile away but I used a telephoto lens (300 mm) and took her picture:

Barb (upper left quadrant in blue) near our campsite from 1/2 mile away.

That was all nice and good, but then there was this bird that started circling us:

It was a Turkey Vulture. None of us had ever heard of vultures in Idaho and certainly not this far north in Idaho. But there it was. Circling and getting pretty darned close.

We took some more pictures of the view:

Elk Creek on Dworshak reservoir.

Kim and Caleb from the top of the Rocky Cliff.

We then noticed there were five vultures circling us. I could only get four in the frame at once. It was all a bit surreal–almost like in the cartoons except we weren’t in the desert and we didn’t feel like we were near death:

Vultures circling us.

Reading about them on Wikipedia, I discovered they are one of the few birds that forage for food by smell. We were probably more than a little smelly from the climb up the hill but I don’t think we smelled dead so I have to conclude Xenia has the better hypothesis. I must be getting old.

A walk in the snow

Both in January of 2007 and 2008 our group at work took the day off (with pay) to go to Stevens Pass to ski (all expenses paid–including transportation and two meals). Those not interested in downhill skiing could snowshoe or cross country ski. Both times I took my own snowshoes (rentals would have been covered but I would rather take my own) and opted for the hike through the trees instead of the downhill adventure my knee surgeon (after the second surgery) advised me to never take up. Even though snowshoes were recommended I found my size 14 boots were more than adequate for the packed trails. It was a very nice hike and I kept wanting to take Barb up there. Yesterday I finally got around to it. She agreed, it was a very nice place to go hiking. Below are some pictures:

Here is what it looked like in January when I went with the people from work:

Although there was less snow on the trees it was sunny and nicer weather when Barb and I went.