Thursday, August 26, 2010

Not so Rain-ier

Last weekend we went camping with my parents before my dad drives off on his big Alaska adventure. He's taking three weeks to drive to Anchorage with two fishing buddies. They're stopping pretty much everywhere along the way to fly fish. The boys return by plane, and my mom will fly up for the two week return drive in the Tiger. It should be a fantastic adventure and I can't wait to see all the pictures and hear all the fish stories.

But I digress. Last weekend we went to Lodgepole Campground, just east of Mt. Rainier on Highway 410.  It was a nice, recently paved campground, right on the American River.  It's a great campground to stay at if you want to hike around the Chinook Pass/Sunrise area, but not stay in the park.And apparently not if you want to have a campfire. We found out the hard way that there was a burn ban in the area and got a stern talking to by the campground host. Luckily our dinner was almost done on the coals so it wasn't too big of a loss.

On Saturday we went for a hike at the Naches Peak Loop, just 7 miles from our campground. After discussing with a ranger, we found that dogs were not allowed (sorry Willis) and we were several weeks too early for huckleberries. But the wildflowers were blooming and it was a beautiful day, so we set off on the 3 mile loop regardless.

The BUGS. Oh lord the bugs. They were terrible all weekend. The views on the hike were awesome, but I think the things that stands out in my mind the most about the hike was that every time we stopped I killed 18 mosquitos and biting flies.

Mom and Dad returned to Kennewick Sunday morning after a small hike. It was so hot at the campground, and so buggy, that after running around the campground and reading with our chairs in the river we went for a drive. We made our way in to Naches and stopped at a couple fruit stands. The first one had a minimal amount of fruit and it looked to be of poor quality, so we moved on to the next one. What a great idea! The next stand had bushels and bushels of fresh ripe peaches and other fruits and vegetables at great prices. They also had peanuts that we sampled, but didn't buy. I felt like I was robbing the guy when I bought 10lbs of the tastiest peaches ever for only $7. Woooey.

Monday morning we got up bright and early to pack up camp and hit the road. We stopped east of Chinook Pass to hike Noble Knob. I tried to do this hike last year with some friends in June but the gate to the forest road was locked. The trail up was steep and slow going, but it was worth the wait.

Trail books all say the hike is 7 miles round trip with only 500 feet of elevation gain. That sounds like my kind of hike, but boy, is that misleading! The total elevation gain from trailhead to summit may be 500 ft, but the trail rolls up and down the whole way, making this gain and loss at least five times. Add that to the 80 degree weather at 9am, exposure, and the bugs on the trail and we were DONE by the time we turned around.

But the trail certainly didn't lack in views. It runs along a saddle with Mt. Rainier on one side and the mountains of the I-90 corridor on the other. Just beautiful!

Late season red huckleberries were still ripening on the trail side. At one point on the trail the scent of the berries smelled just like Kool-Aid!

All in all it was a beautiful weekend in the wilderness. Even if we couldn't have campfires.

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