Washington: Not So Secret Lover

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Washington is beautiful, duh. A little bit of desert, a few peaks splitting down middle, farmland to the east and a coastline to the west. Rivers cut through the landscape carving valleys and dissolving mountains. Dense forests freckle Washington’s geography like a red headed step child. It’s easy to fall madly in love with this place and the best part is, there never has to be an impending breakup lurking around every misstep. You forgot her birthday? Oh well! Valentine’s Day was a flop? No biggie. My love affair runs deep and regardless of our lifetime together, the romance is still hot and heavy.

I realize there is also a learning curve to exploring this vast and wild country. Some people are withholding when it comes to sharing this beautiful place with the intention to preserve it. While others are eager to share every last secret gem because they’re the partner who creates a family photo album with photoshopped wedding and future baby pictures after three months of dating. I fall somewhere in the middle. I want people to have just enough exposure to develop lust; with the hope that the passion they feel produces a need to preserve and protect. On the other hand, I want to covet my most hallowed spaces in order to retain their sacredness in fear that garbage and dog shit will be scattered over the surface. While these two emotions battle one another day to day, I believe wholeheartedly that in order for others to find value and ultimately want to protect something, they have to experience it. By acknowledging that, I recognize it’s important I share my love for the Northwest. In order to do that, I have compiled a list of different adventures varying in abilities and difficulty as well as type of recreation (hiking, backpacking and climbing).

**Disclaimer: Beginner = physically able to hike a few miles without dying or suffering from cardiac arrest. Intermediate = physically and mentally capable of hiking a longer miles with steeper terrain. Advanced = physically and mentally capable of enduring hours of suffering with possible/likely obstacles and special skills needed **

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Hiking

Beginner –

  • North Fork Skokomish Staircase Rapids: four miles round trip, super flat, lushes forests surround you the entire way as you stroll along the river
  • Spider Meadow: 13 miles round trip , mild elevation gain, incredibly rewarding finish, hike through forest
  • Panorama Point, Mt. Rainier: six miles round trip, elevation gains and drops, views of Rainier entire way, can be done any time of year (winter advisory: avy conditions)
  • Mt. Walker: five miles round trip, steep, stair case at times, feel the burn on this very short hike with a beautiful views, don’t feed the damn birds
  • Eight Mile Lake: seven miles round trip, hike through previously burnt down forest to a refreshing lake for a dip
  • Ozette Triangle: nine miles of flat, forested and beach walking, listen for seals, collect shells and enjoy beautiful Washington coastline all year round

Intermediate –

  • Flapjack Lakes: 15 miles round trip, first five are cake, last 2.5 are five day old steak, leave no trace, keep going past the Lakes and you won’t regret it
  • Mt. Ellinor: 6.5 miles round trip, steep and more steep, winter or summer option, practice your glissading skills with the right gear (not your running shorts and tennis shoes) during the winter, goats galore up here please don’t feed them or harass them and  keep your distance
  • Lake of the Angels: eight miles round trip, steep and more steep, amazing reward (towering rocky peaks and alpine lakes), watch out for goats
  • Upper Lena Lake: 14 miles round trip, easy for the first 3.5 to Lower Lena then the rest get considerably steeper but the payoff is worth it

Advanced –

  • Lake Constance: ten miles round trip, so steep it’ll make you sweat in places you never thought you could, blue green lake to dive into at the top and mountains to watch swim in your undies
  • Mt. Jupiter: fifteen miles round trip, hot, dry and steep is the name of the game but it’ll all be worth it with views like that
  • Upper Enchantments, Aasgard Pass via Colchuck Lake: 12.5 miles round trip, a real doozy especially if you’re carrying more than just day hiking gear but it’s some of the most beautiful country in all of Washington (perhaps in the U.S.)

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Backpacking 

Varying in difficulty and length:

  • Marmot Pass: ten miles round trip, consistent grade up to the top, let your gear down a mile from the pass near a small creek, continue onto pass and for more adventure hike up steep Buckhorn Mountain
  • Enchanted Valley: 24 miles round trip, barely any elevation gain but it’s long and the distance will start to annoy you around the eight mile mark, watch for bears, lots of places to stop and wander or rest
  • Mildred Lakes: ten miles total, stupid steep and route navigation is difficult in winter, beauty and solitude are yours, perfect for a quick and dirty one nighter
  • Mt. Stuart: 11 miles round trip, need a permit inside the Enchantments, bugs are an issue but the scenery sooths the itch
  • High Divide, Seven Lakes Basin Loop: 19 miles of seriously stunning landscape, steep and hearty, totally worth it, good luck finding the best primitive campsite, permits required

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Climbing

  • Leavenworth: the Bavarian style village that both annoys you and tugs at your heart strings all at once, eat at the Munchen House, drink beer, climb hard either bouldering, alpine delights or ropes (purchase guide book from Der Sportsman or my favorite, Leavenworth Mountain Sport), sleep off the beer, eat Good Mood Food and repeat
  • Exit 32 and Exit 38: North Bend used to be a town for the rural mountains folk, ski bums and climbing dirtbags, it has since turned into Seattlelite puke (sprawl). While the town still offers a local feel in certain parts, the charm is being sucked away slowly. Simply eat and shop local and head to the numerous crags with your guidebook, climbing is gym soft in most parts with a harder set of granite at World Wall
  • Tieton: far away and desolate to most, forgotten by many or avoided due to the type of climbing (tons of trad), we love this place because you never wait for the best routes and the cracks are deep
  • Vantage: a beginner climbers wet dream, short routes, gym grade, minimal bouldering, lots of sport and a few trad routes scatter about for those needing to get away from the crowds, tends to be a big pit party in the camping area, redemption for listening to drunken chants all night is an empty crag the next morning

Now no one can accuse me of not being generous. If you’d like more information regarding the places listed above, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send a message. I have an endless supply of suggestions and opinions for your future adventures.

 

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