Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rattlesnake Ledge and Rattlesnake Lake

 Monday evening we got a text message from one of our friends asking if we were still on for hiking Tuesday. We had invited him to go with us on a hike (that we ended up not going on) last Tuesday and he asked if we could do it this week instead. We said sure, and then promptly forgot. So when he messaged us we said sure, see you at 9 a.m. He's dependably late, so we figured that meant we'd get out of the house by 9:30 a.m.

We decided that an overcast chance of rain Tuesday morning would be as good a time as ever to finally hike the ever so popular Rattlesnake Ledge. When we got there we were pretty surprised by how many people were still there, still not nearly as many as usual. There was several large groups of kids presumably out with camp and youth groups. We were happily surprised that besides occasionally passing people coming back down, the trail was pretty vacant.

Rattlesnake ledge is a 4 mile round trip out and back hike with elevation gain of over 1100 feet in the two miles up. It's basically just a bunch of switch backs on a very worn and well taken care of trail. There's isn't much to see on the way up. Honestly I don't really get why it's so popular. It was an alright hike but when comparing hikes in the same area, I prefer its neighbor Cedar Butte.

The view at the top was nice but within a few minutes of getting up there we were joined by about 4 other groups. Since the rock platform with large gaping hole didn't strike me as being very toddler friendly and safe, we opted to just snap some pictures and head back down the trail instead of stopping to eat lunch. We did see one guy running the trail in some Vibram Five Fingers.

At the base of the trail head for Rattlesnake Ledge you'll find Rattlesnake Lake - the lake the ledge looks out over. Another beautiful Washington lake. I hiked this one in shoes as to not over do it since we had done a 1.5 mile run + .5 mile walk Monday (slow and steady slow and steady) after hiking that 9 miles in my Lunas on Saturday.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pete Lake

Pete Lake
We are rather notorious for getting late starts. We don't ever really rush, take things at our own slow pace and do things when we feel like it. So it's not surprising at all that we got a late start on our adventures today. We were originally going to head up to Rachel Lake but the trail book we have said that it is always exceptionally crowded on weekends. Crowds + hiking is a no go for us, so we headed up to Pete Lake instead.

It's a bit of a drive for us. Once off the highway we started our adventure by not being able to find the turn off. We went back and forth down the road about 3 times before we found the proper road. By the time we got parked and settled, it was around 3:30pm (see, I told you we got a late start).  Exceptionally late for a 9 mile hike, but I regress.. 

We lathered up with sunblock and headed in. I decided to wear my Luna Sandals on this hike and I'm glad I did. There were quite a few cars at the trail head which was a little worrisome, but we'd find later that most were camping in. We only encountered a few people along our way, including  a group of 5 on horseback. There was a fairly large handful (somewhere between 7-10) of water crossings. Some were about half way up my calf in depth. As I watched other hikers precariously balancing on logs and stones to cross, I just splashed right in. I was wearing sandals after all, and knew they'd dry right out.

The horses had left muddy sections of the trail a little worse for wear. We also ran into a few areas where we had to climb over huge trees that had blown down. The mosquitoes were out in force and would only get worse as time went by. Parts of the trail is covered with large rocks. When we finally made it up to the lake, we thought we'd sit down and enjoy some sandwiches we had brought, but soon discovered by doing so the mosquitoes thought they'd have a snack of us.

We didn't hang around too long since we wanted to make sure we got out before sundown. This area has a population of bobcats, cougars and coyotes. I'd much rather never encounter any of these out of a controlled environment. When I lived in Arizona, I once had a too close for comfort run in with a rattlesnake while hiking. I'd like to keep that my only too close for comfort wildlife encounter.

As we headed back the mosquitoes got down right nasty. Close to the aggression of the Montana mosquitoes (they will bite you during the day, while you're moving, even if you're moving at 20mph on a bike), but with the population of the Minnesota or Wisconsin mosquitoes.

We ran parts of the trail trying to keep the mosquitoes at bay and also trying to get out of the forest before we became a giant bug bite. I think I only got about 3,000 bug bites. I've decided that trail running really feels more natural than road running. Perhaps I just think about it less, but when I run on a dirt trail I run and hop, sometimes I increase my stride to make it over an obstacle, sometimes I reduce it to make it up an incline. There's no thinking about it, it just happens. I'm not concentrating on running, I'm concentrating on not tripping over that root, or landing in middle of the mud. 

Nine miles was likely farther than I should have went in my Lunas. By the time we made it back to the car, my feet were a bit tender. I did a quick inspection (the best I could, they were pretty damn filthy) and decided that they were fine. I found one area that looked like it had blistered and popped under one of my small toes. I'm guessing that it was from the wet dirt trapped between my foot and the sandal. I scrubbed them off when I got home, and as I sit here and type this they feel fine. The wool laces did great, didn't bother me the entire hike. Even wet I had no problems with them. 

PS - I ended up with a lot of nice photos from this hike. You can click the picture below to view them

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Seattles Summer Of Rain

We've recently just been taking the time to fall into somewhat of a schedule. My sons twice weekly school/play group has started up again, as has his swimming lessons. His school classes are 1.5 hours long twice a week, and this is the only time that he is not with either me or my husband.

He's been taking swimming for a little over a year now, and absolutely loves it. By the end of this session he should be able to swim short spurts on his own. Not too shabby for a 2 year old (he just turned 2 in May).

The weather in Seattle has been.... lackluster. It doesn't feel like summer, and the collective we are becoming more convinced that this is all we're going to get this year (I'm not complaining, I love this weather). The only slightly frustrating part of it is that the mountains are still covered in snow, the blueberries aren't ripe for picking, and rain and hiking with a two year old doesn't mesh well.

We have gone a few places that I'd like to show you, but alas, I didn't have my camera, so it will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kangaroos, Wallaroos, Wallabies and Llamas

 Over the weekend we took a trip out to the Outback Kangaroo Farm in Arlington, WA. I didn't know it before we went, but while they give tours of the facility where they allow people to feed and pet these creatures, that's really the secondary reason for it's existence. First and foremost, their business is the breeding and selling of these exotic animals as pets. I'm really unsure how I feel about that in general, or why I would feel differently about them being kept as pets than I would about dogs.

I guess it boils down to the fact that they're a hell of a commitment (life spans ranging from 12-20 years depending on species) with much of a novelty aspect to it, locational restrictions because of laws, general under education, lack of available vet care to the general population, and limited/no availability of any sort of rescue facilities should the novelty factor fade off and people find themselves no longer desiring having one as a pet (which we see often enough with other domestic animals).


The Kangaroos were ultra soft, and so were the Wallaroos - almost mink like in feeling. The Wallabies coat was much coarser, much like goat hair. 

I don't know much about any of these animals, so I can't really tell you what their 'normal' disposition would be. I can tell you that the kangaroos seemed either really really lazy or lethargic. I can also tell you that I don't agree with encouraging people to poke, prod, and harass an animal in order to get it up so it will 'perform' for you (No, I've never been to a circus).

They also had some other animals, including a donkey that had just given birth to a foal the night before. This didn't stop the owners from allowing hoards of people into this area, separating mother from baby, children overcrowding the new foal and attempting to feed the less-than-day-old baby food.

All in all it was an underwhelming experience. While I enjoyed the experience of being able to interact with creatures that I may never have gotten to otherwise, I didn't leave with any warm fuzzy feelings. I also can't say that I object to them being kept as pets in general - but when it comes to animal breeding and sales I much prefer the pets first with some regard to the animals future and income second approach rather than strictly business.


Friday, July 8, 2011

More Wool Huarache Laces

I think I have this wool lace thing down to a science. I'm still experimenting with different types of yarn and how tight I need to make them prior to felting, how long they need to be to account for the shrinking when felting, along with efficient felting methods. I'm sending a few of these off to new homes so I can see what other people think of them.


Post Felting

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hiking in Luna Sandals

Today we hiked Cedar Butte again. We wanted a quick hike, and rattlesnake ridge still seemed overly busy, so we opted for the familiar. I wore my Luna sandals with the felted wool laces and it's amazing how different of an experience it was and how much more you notice the terrain.

There were more rocks then I remembered, and more tree roots. It was amazing how much the plants had grown since our last visit. My feet were comfortable and protected enjoying the air between my toes. On the way down I had burst of trots down the trail, bending my knees and allowing my feet to navigate the ground.

On our way back we crossed paths with an older couple, and the women asked about my shoes.

"How do you walk in those, they're so flat!" 

I just smiled and replied that was the point. To be able to feel the ground beneath and have natural foot movement. My feet felt great at the end (which is more then I can say for after our last hike when snow on the trail forced me to wear shoes, which blistered my heels and made my toenails sore) and I was delighted to see my footprint wearing itself into the sandal - all the wear exactly where it should be, a perfect footprint.

On a different note, yesterday I got a pair of racing flats (fairly minimal, about a 4mm - 5mm heel drop, no inside support) to have as a transitional shoe. Lately in my normal everyday shoes, my heels have been going numb. My body isn't ready to full transition yet, so when my feet start feeling fatigued or sore I make sure to give them the support. I decide to try running in them, to see if I would be able to maintain a forefoot/midfoot foot strike ( I have tried in 'traditional' running shoes to do so, and failed pretty miserably).

In the flats I as able to maintain my forefoot/midfoot strike, and so I ran - a mile - and I timed myself .. for the first time in 10 years, I ran a 7 minute mile - and I wasn't even pushing that hard. As a matter of fact, I probably could have kept going. My biggest obstacle to running hasn't been muscle fatigue or injury in the past. I've still yet to experience any muscle soreness. It's always been my lungs - even after biking across the country I couldn't go far without getting winded- so to be able to feel like I could keep going is a huge achievement for me. Afterward I took my shoes off and walked most of the way home because I want to make sure I don' t over do it - but I sure did feel good.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day USA

Map of freedom  

Green = Free
Yellow = Partly Free
Purple = Not Free

Map Of Happiness
On a scale of green to brown 
Green being most happy
Brown being least happy

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Margaret Lake - Sort of

On Saturday we decided to go for a hike. We have the book Day Hiking:Snoqualmie Region that we keep in our car, so when we decide to go for a hike we flip it open to a page and where ever we land on we go. This led us on a hike of Margaret Lake.

Now the book says that this is a hike to do from June - September but I have to disagree with them.

The dirt road leading up to the trail head was very poorly maintained with huge pot holes littering the way. We were originally going to hike a different trail that was slightly further up the road, but had to turn around because the road was blocked by a few feet of snow still.

We made our way to the trail head after walking a ways down a rocky service road. As we continued hiking the narrow trail we started to come upon parts that were covered in snow. The snow was melting, since it was 70 degrees out, and at certain points you could tell there was nothing underneath supporting the snow sheet.

At some points the snow was several feet deep still, and since there trail was basically just the water drain off ditch we lost the actual trail under the snow and ended up following others footsteps hoping they knew where they were going....

Turned out, they didn't.....

We ended at a steep incline filled with rotting tree trunks. We debated what to do. There was a summit up at the top, though we were sure this was no longer the trail, we came all this way already, we wanted to get to the top of something. So we climbed, quite literally - holding onto protruding rocks, stumps and anything else we could get our hands on.

Did I mention that our friend came along with us, who just had surgery on his wrist a few weeks ago?
And don't forget the two year old tagging along in the Ergo.

At the top was a beautiful view of the neighboring mountains and a lake below.

We never made it to Margaret Lake - even though we think we found where the trail was supposed to go after we slide/walked down the slope we were ready to call it a day.

Maybe we'll go back to Margaret Lake at the end of summer - the lake is supposed to be beautiful with camping along it's edge.