Monday, August 29, 2011

Peterson Lake Cabin

It's been raining - I mean really raining - for two straight weeks. We've had flood warnings on lakes and rivers. The streams have been brown with runoff instead of their usual pristine crystal blue.

Mr. X had a cold. In fact he'd been nursing it all week. So Thursday night when I asked him if we were keeping our reservation, he was guarded. We packed, but not confidently.

Friday evening when Mr. X picked me up in a torrental downpour I questioned why we torture ourselves. Why do we bother hiking in the rain?

Nevertheless, we headed out the road to mile 24 to hit the trail.

We'd heard terrible things about this trail. Knee-deep to thigh-deep mud all 4.25 miles. The rain we've gotten was sure to make the trail that much more enjoyable.

We also knew that we were hitting the trail late in the day, when bears would be active and we desired to be at the cabin before night fall. Thankfully, the Peterson Lake Trail has an elevation gain of 700 feet so, I calculated 2 - 2.5 hours for the hike in. Plenty of time before dark.

Trail follows historic tram route

We followed the trail through gorgeous forests, across muskeg just changing color for the fall, past incredible waterfalls and finally along the Peterson lake edged with lily pads. I was surprised at the good trail. There have been some improvements, particularly in the first mile of the trail - but I was hiking in rubber boots and rain gear so the muddy spots weren't anything I should have been afraid of. I compared the trail to Cowee Meadow to Camping Cove trails which can be rooty and muddy as well.

Boards from 1910 tram

We reached the cabin at 7:30, 1 hour 50 minutes after leaving the car. We got out of our wet clothes (fortunately, it really didn't rain on us, we felt very lucky), inspected the new boat and new outhouse and then turned to our chores. Mr. X grabbed my new collapsable bucket and headed for the roaring stream behind the cabin. Instead of standing on a mossy rock, balancing filter and bottle, he just scooped up water and placed the bucket on the front porch in case we wanted water later.

We were (probably) the second group to use the newly remodeled cabin. The walls and ceilings have new tongue and groove panneling. The bunks, table, "kitchen" are all brand new. The deck, dock and cabin trail have been updated. We were pleased with how clean everything was.

By now, it was dark, so we sat down to do some reading. Mr. X lit a candle and balanced his guide headlamp on the table. I read the history of Peterson Lake.

Sometime in the middle of the night we both woke up to soft scratching sounds. I couldn't identify the source. I thought mouse or squirrel. Mr. X had seen the reflection of the eyes of a weasel, marmet, or wolverine. The skies cleared and I enjoyed actually seeing stars.

In the morning, armed with hat and neck gator I sat under the eaves on the porch to read my book. A duck flew by. A stellar jay and winter wren checked me out. In fact, the winter wren (which is smaller than my palm), made such a racket, I thought a bear was going to come around the side of the cabin.

At 9:45, I suggested that since this cabin is a "warming shelter" and only 168 square feet that we get dressed before any hikers came knocking. We had just exchanged long johns and lounge pants for our muddy rain gear when a Forest Service employee walzed up the path. He was there to collect 60 - 80 lbs of equipment left from the cabin remodel. Yes, he did fit everything in his backpack and turned back down the trail, thankfully leaving a bottle hand sanitizer and a roll of TP for future renters to enjoy.

Mr. X then gave me rowing lessons and I rowed us around the lake, looking at lily pads as we went. After a quick lunch we packed up for the trek back to the car. We sure had enjoyed the tranquillity and freedom from cares on our short trip. I think I'll be back (perhaps, AFTER, they finish fixing the trail) next summer.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

West Glacier Hike

Saturday the 13th was an incredibly beautiful day. We did our chores Friday night so that Saturday morning would be free for hiking.

Mr. X has been saying for weeks that he's wanted to see how far the glacier has receded, so we went out to the West Glacier Trail, took the turnoff marked "Unmaintained, hazardous trail" and hiked down to the glacier.

Mr. X decided to turn us up hill, so the glacier would rise to meet us, rather than have us scramble down the scree and back up again.

I took a few steps out on the glacier. That's all the farther I would go, though, without ice climbing gear. The area that we were at was almost slushy, and we could hear and see ice falling off, so really that's all I was interested in.

Knowing that Mr. X's definition of a good time involves bushwacking, I suggested that we head back to the West Glacier trail from our current position rather than doubling back. Mr. X agreed and we started scrambling through the small brush, up the side of the mountain, using a stream for our navigation.

After 45 minutes we were ready to sit down and take a break before heading into the second half of our scramble through devil's club and Sitka spruce. I looked around and said, "isn't that the trail right there?" Sure enough, it was. We hiked down the trail a way until we came to a look-out where we settled down for a break and looked out over the glistening Mendenhall lake, pounding Nugget Falls and blue glacier.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cowee Meadows

Our friends called us on Saturday to go for a hike. We met out-the-road for the short jaunt out to the Cowee Meadow cabin for a snack and then to the beach for some rock slinging. It was a beautiful day. We saw eagles and beavers. Fireweed and cotton grass were in full bloom. The Devil's club has gone to seed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Washington layover

After all our fun down south, I ended up with an 18 hour layover in Seattle - yipee! It meant that I was able to spend just a little while with my mom and brother.

Here's the boy all decked out for trek youth conference.

Mom showed me her new garden and fed me steak off the BBQ and fresh greens for lunch.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer Trip Stop 3: Indiana

Brown County State Park - elevation 1058'

Mr. X's other brother had moved to Indiana two weeks before we traveled down south which meant we needed to travel a little father south to see him and his family.

Shipshewana, IN

Mom drove us down, and since we didn't need to be in Columbus until the evening, I suggested we stop in amish country for lunch. Yeah, it's out of the way, but good grief we're the ones who drive three hours (after 7 hours on a ferry) for lunch at Whitehorse's Pizza Hut.

Fire look-out tower, Indiana sandstone shelter

In Southern Indy, we went swimming, mini-golfing, paddleboating, hiking, raptor watching. Mr. X was involved in some trampoline hijinx that had him holding his back for weeks.

Brown County was celebrating Smokey Bear's birthday. In honor, they held a Raptor show.

All in all a successful trip.

Summer Trip Stop 2: Michigan

We flew from Baltimore to Detroit Friday night and Mr. X's mom picked us up so we could be in Michigan for my niece H's baptism.

It was great to get out of the heat and humidity in D.C. and into the relatively cool temperatures in Michigan...heheh.

We spent the week relaxing, doing some small house projects, visiting the Friends of the Library bookstore and watching Harry Potter.

One of my favorite things about visiting Michigan, is the house, more particularly the view from the bedroom window.

We spent evenings watching dry lighting flash across sky and woke in the morning to the sound of orioles in the trees and a groundhog or rabbit in the yard.