The American adventures of a Welsh Professor
Fall 1992 - Summer 1993
The following personal report describes the adventures that I experienced
during my stay in the Pacific NorthWest. Almost without exception, these
trips were organised by the Outhaus at the University of Puget Sound.
I feel so lucky to have seen such beautiful places in the company of such
It was a fantastic year
Sunday 13 September
Today I have been on my first outing with the Outhaus - it's a group of
students who every weekend organise a different kind of event to enable
other students to appreciate the wilderness. Today we did one (I guess
there must be hundreds) of the Olympics. This is a large peninsula just
covered with mountains, the interior of which you can only get to by
The Olympics were all I had heard they would be. They were magnificent.
We left Tacoma at 7am and there was not a cloud in the sky ( not unlike
the last few days). Driving into the Olympic area was just fantastic and we
soon left our cars and headed for the trail. The first part was through
woodland, which though not a part of the rain forest was typical of the
photos I had seen - lots of moss dangling everywhere. Eventually we were
high enough to look towards Tacoma & the Cascades. They were shrouded
in cloud all apart from Mt Rainier which just drawfs the surrounding area.
Every time I look at it I hope that it doesn't erupt!
Eventually we passed over a ridge and at this point were able to see the
southern Olympics - free of cloud and every bit as magnificent as in the
glossies. Further up again we passed over another ridge and could then see
the higher norther area - though much of this was covered in cloud. The
view was just staggering - it is impossible to describe other than to say I
haven't seen anywhere quite like it. Sitting at the top in just shorts &
Tshirts we were surrounded by little chipmunks all wanting food,
unfortunately we were not allowed to feed them. Then it started to get
cold so we put on extra layers and within 10 mins it was starting to snow -
like a sun shower!
On the way back we passed through meadows with lots of flowers and
different fruits. I assumed they were poisonous but was told different and
they were really lovely. There were lots of birds - like a cross between a
budgie and a blackbird - and they were so tame that they would land on
any outstretched hands. Todays climb was only to 6000 (Mt Rainier is
14000 + and I hope to do that sometime soon).
And now to work.
Last week the new President was inaugurated and it was quite an event,
with a free campus wide picnic lunch and then a barbeque after the
Sunday 20 September
Today we (Jesse, Ilan, Andrea & me) did goat rocks. This is an area
classified as a national forest wilderness area. It is south of Mt Rainier -
the huge volcano which dominates the area. It took us about 2hrs driving
to the area and then about 1/2 hour up what we would call forestry
commission tracks. Eventually we reached the start of the trail - about
3900ft and it was pouring with rain. This was to turn out to be my first
real experience of Tacoma rain.
Once again the scenery was fantastic. We walked up a very steep path for
the first few miles going through forests with the trees draped in lichen -
this looked like the scene of a horror movie, enhanced with the heavy mist.
The trail really was in excellent condition - a narrow path just winding up
through the trees. If you have any air plants at home - I saw loads today
growing wild - some with dead flower heads about 3ft tall.
There are few visitors to this area of the Mt Rainier region and those that
do take the trails never leave any litter. It's a pleasure to see how well
everyone respects the parks. Anyway, we continued up above the tree
line and entered some really lovely alpine meadows. The colours were
fantastic yet at this time of the year most of the flowers have finished. The
air was so fresh and had a scent of the herbs and pine - enhanced with the
Well we didn't see much else other than noticing the weird moonscape like
surface in some areas. We guess this is the result of the St.Helens
explosion. We kept on going to about 7000' and then dropped down to Goat
Lake. Again this is supposed to be really lovely. We could just about see
about 30ft of it! Today we just got very wet but we had gone well
prepared. With about 5 layers of clothing on - together with woolly hat
and gloves I didn't get cold. I'm learning to cope with the extremes, though
carrying my suncream to the top was a bit excessive today.
Well next week is supposed to be Hoh River in the rain forest (and
camping out - soggy sleeping bags) - until then it's a daily 5.30am start to
get my lectures up to scratch.
Sunday 27 September
It's all beginning to feel like a real adventure and Mondays -> Fridays just
give me time to heal and have a rest (physically at any rate). This
weekend I went on my first rock climbing adventure. We set off to a place
called Leavenworth, which is on the other side of the Cascades. When we
left at 7.30 yesterday morning it was raining in Tacoma but by the time
we had crossed the Cascades and entered a more arid region, the sun was
shining. We headed for our first rocks. I looked at the slope and thought
yep, I can manage those. Trouble was that I was looking at the wrong
We had four ropes set up on different rated routes (12 of us including 5
instructors). I was really terrified going up the first one - especially once I
got to the top and had to belay down. The first few seconds are the worse
while I worry if my partner has control. After that it began to seem like
fun. I managed all the slopes including one where I had to wedge my
hands and feet into a crack and force myself up (needless to say my
knuckles are a different shape to normal today!). The real fun bits where
doing self-repels (Kind of absailing I assume) down a rock face without
having first climbed up a route ( I walked up the back). As we were
setting up I passed a different group who had their ropes tied to a tree - I
didn't think that looked very safe until I saw what ours were ties to - it
was something like the cantilever on the Glyders.
Saturday night we went into Leavenworth - its a pseudo Bavarian town
and it was party night. In addition to all the Bavarian music we had two
renditions of the birdie song (thanks to Betsy, Jen, Era, Kim and Jesse)-
needless to say we all had a good time (of course there is no alcohol
allowed on College trips but the spirit(!) is just the same.) We then
returned to our campsite, left the tents in the car and slept under the stars.
It was fantastic - I have never seen such a clear sky.
This morning we walked to another rock situated in unbelievably beautiful
countryside - better than any poster I have on my wall! Huge mountains,
snow capped, wide river less than 100 feet away, autumn colours like I've
never seen and clear blue sky. I managed the climbs and then we came
back - worn out, dirty and all ready to start on my assignment marking!
Once again the sun is out in Tacoma with temperatures in the 70's.
As yet I don't know what's happening next weekend but I have a busy
week ahead with more assignments and my first exams. The group project
is going well. We had a great disaster last week just before meeting the
client - I really enjoyed it! - it taught my group more in 70mins than I
could in a week.
Monday 5 October
It's now 7.15 am and I've already prepared my first lecture and
assignment. I thought I would drop you a line and let you know what
exciting things I got up to this last weekend.
We left Tacoma about 4.00 on Friday afternoon aiming for the Olympics
but heading for somewhere else! Eventually we arrived at the trail head
just after dark in a very heavy mist. Once we found the start of the trail
and had rallied up all the flashlights (4 between 12) we set off through the
forest on a 3 mile hike. Needless to say we had a lot of fun especially as
the batteries began to fade. Amazingly, it was a very warm night and we
were walking in just shorts and T-shirts. We were told that the views
were just magnificent - I was just grateful to be able to see my feet and
the odd rock sticking out of the path.
We finally reached a clearing and set up camp - Two 4 man tents between
us! Dinner was made up of Tacos and fried beans. We all agreed that it
tasted like the best food ever even though we wouldn't normally give it to
a dog. We then had to take out all smelly/tasty items - soap, toothpaste,
deodorant (none of us had any of that anyway), etc. All this was then tied
up a tree to save us from the bears. Somehow the tent arrangements got
messed up so that the 6 biggest people(Ryan, Wyatt, Ilan, Elena, Courtney
& me) were in my tent and the 5 smallest were in the other. We agreed to
sleep on our left sides to maximise space. That worked for the first half
hour. From then on, every time someone turned, we were all forced to
follow. Whenever anyone slept on their back, then Ilan (the hike leader)
got pushed out of the tent. By now it was raining very heavy outside.
Opening the tent in the morning was amazing - the lake was only 50 yards
away and looked fantastic - an eerie mist lingered over it with just the odd
tree visible in the distance.
After protecting our breakfast from the chipmunks, squirrels and camp
raiders (blackbird like birds) four of us set off up the rain forests. The rest
of them intended to go for a swim! The forest was spectacular with huge
areas (min 1000 sq yards) covered with thick moss. For half the trail we
followed close to a dry river bed (no one ever leaves the trail, out of
respect to the environment) and gradually gained height. It is impossible
to describe the atmosphere within the forest as I have never seen
anything like it before. The trees are so big. Those trees that have fallen
recently are a very deep red. The older ones look more like a luffa
material. We found the most enchanted waterfall all covered in moss -
magical! Eventually we turned back and headed for the car. Another
I expected to have a quite Sunday so I started by marking last weeks
exams and then did some lecture preparation. I then received a phone call
from the Outhaus which after giving a rendition of 'morning has broken'
invited me to go rock climbing. That was it for the day!
Now my hands are sore from climbing, my back is aching from the
backpacking, my legs are stiff from the walking - As you can see a typical
monday morning feeling. Next weekend is Mt. Pugh (I think)
Monday 12 October
This morning I'm shattered. We did Mt. Pugh yesterday.
It all started 9am on Saturday morning when 6 of us set off for a three
hour drive to the Northern Cascades. Once again the sun was shining.
Eventually we arrived at the Ice Caves. Off we went, following a long
windy path, alongside a fly infested swamp (inappropriately called crystal
lake) and through another spectacular wood.
Eventually we arrived at a clearing at the bottom of a very high cliff. At
the bottom was, I thought, a small glacier with a few holes at the base.
Little did I realise that this thing was huge and that the 'few holes' were
massive arches - kind of cathedral looking. I had nothing against which I
could judge the size. Not until one of our party ran ahead could I
appreciate the huge scale involved. This was a very wet glacier and it
looked as though it was melting very fast. Inside was just amazing - an
ideal place for geographers to examine the different types of morraine. The
whole thing was banded and the origin was fairly clear. It began as an ice
field which then developed a stream running through it. Gradually over
the years, the snow builds up on the roof and the stream eats away from
below. I guess it eventually collapses and starts all over again.
We had our picnic lunch, did some sun bathing and then drove off to
Mt.Pugh. Having parked our cars, we put on our backpacks and headed for
the trail head. After three miles through dense forest we arrived at a
beautiful lake (about 100 yards in diameter) and set up camp. Way above
us (about 5200 ft), we could see the summit of Mt. Pugh. Our campsite was
about 8 feet in diameter. Just enough for one tent. Oh no, not 6 in a tent
After cooking our dinner - spaghetti & sauce, we went down to the lake. It
looked really enchanted as the full moon started to rise above Pugh and lit
up the forests. The water looked lovely until I began to think about
drinking it the next day! Sunday morning we woke about 8am to the
sound of marmots and the camp robbers (the birds). Fortunately the bears
had stayed away, hardly surprising considering our Tshirts and boots
mouldering in the tents. I went to the lake for the water and then we had
breakfast. Transferring our clothes into day packs, we set off up the trail.
The first hour or so consisted of steep switch-backs through the forest;
eventually we got above the tree line and entered the alpine meadows.
After several thousand feet more we reached a 'pass' - more like an arete!
- The view was now even more spectacular as we could see through about
270 degrees. The next stage was similar to Striding Edge - shear drops
either side. Rocks down one side, a huge glacier the other. This was
starting to get terrifying and I thought about Mark Lee's reassurance on an
earlier dept trip - 'locally safe, globally insecure'. I was now globally
insecure, locally insecure. Fortunately the trail improved and I survived.
The air was fantastic - the fragrances from the pines & alpines was just
amazing. Eventually we reached the top - it was breathtaking. Huge
mountain ranges in every direction, with no signs of civilisation anywhere.
We had lunch, sun bathed for an hour or so and then headed back. We had
been exceptionally lucky with the weather & visibility. On return to the
campsite, I was forced to swim in the lake - I had been saying all week
that if time had permitted I would have swam the week before. The lake
We arrived back in Tacoma at about 10pm. Next weekend: Lake Ozette &
the ocean beaches. Sounds as though I might have a rest?
Tuesday 20 October
After five consecutive weekends of Outhaus trips I have been having a
great time. I am getting fit and work is going very well. In order to keep
my weekends free, I have to get up at 5am and rarely get home before
8pm, however this is a small price to pay for the kind of weekends I have
been having. I thought they couldn't get any better, but that was before
the fall break, Lagniappe weekend!
Along with 18 students, we set off on a 3 hour coach trip to Anacortes for
the San Juan islands. This brought back mixed feelings as this is the place
that my knee gave in during my summer cycling tour. However, this time I
was on my way to Orcas island - the original aim of my tour but the place
that I never reached. This time it was different, very different.
As we got off the ferry there was an 'all-american' yellow school bus
waiting to take us to Camp Orkila. We loaded our backpacks into the small
munchkin- sized (heavily padded) seats and all squeezed in the back. The
bus set off over the most mountainous of the San Juans taking us to the
The camp was amazing - located adjacent to the sea, we had an 'open'
cabin just five feet away from the high tide mark (eight feet from the low
tide mark!). The cabin was like a big garden shed with a dozen bunks in -
no glass in the windows and no door - more akin to an old western shack.
It was neat! We sat there for a while and were thrilled to see a large school
of dolphins crossing the bay. This was going to be a good weekend!
We had 15 minutes to unpack before the activities were due to start. First
was the (very) high ropes course. This was located in the forest about one
mile from our cabin yet still within the vast grounds of Orkila. I
have never even seen a high ropes course, let alone attempted one.
Basically it consists of an obstacle course some 40ft off the ground. First I
had to climb a tree which then took me up on to a steeply inclined log - I
had to walk along this without anything to hold on (all the time being
protected by a safety line). The next obstacle was a wire bridge - not too
difficult. Then things got hard. A long (30 yards) trunk, again without
anything to hold on to. It's supposed to be good character building stuff - I
don't know about that, but it certainly made my knees wobble. I got to the
other end without falling but the next obstacle was even more difficult. It
consisted off a single wire to walk along with single 'tarzan like' wires
suspended above at 4ft intervals. My wobbling knees became a problem.
First my knees wobbled,then the lower wire began swinging, then my hips
started and then I was just swinging all over the place. Eventually I got
my balance and reached the other end. Finally I reached the best part, a
long zip wire. I hooked in, jumped off the platform, and went flying down
the wire for about 200 yards. A great experience.
After dinner we went to light our campfire. At first, all 18 of us sat around
a wet pile of logs. Two hours later with just five of us left, the fire began to
burn without assistance. As we watched the waters across to Canada, we
just listened to the water lapping up on the shore. A group of children on a
'sons and fathers' weekend at the camp where sailing little boats off the
jetty. Each boat had a small candle to light it up as it drifted with the tide.
I guess one father wanted his son's boat to be bigger and better than the
rest - apparently he had used more glue than anyone else. Two or three
minutes after launching it burst into flames, set alight some of the other
boats and then headed for the jetty... Two hours later we could still see
some of the candle lit boats drifting away.
It was so quiet at night, all I could hear were the waves gently lapping up
on the shingle. The waters are all protected so it's usually pretty calm.
Woken to the sound of the waves and Kelly's wake up call, we had an early
breakfast and headed for the two man kayaks. (kayaking (US) = canoeing
(UK) and vice versa). I sat in the front while Kris, one of our leaders, sat in
the back. She did all the steering via a rudder connected to her foot pedals.
I found this frustrating cos she could decide where to go! At first, all eight
boats headed for a nearby island. Half way across the channel a water
plane came in to land - it had come to collect one of the fathers -
fortunately all the kids were about to go home. The plane narrowly missed
our group and generated some interesting waves. At this point, the Dean
and his son, lost control and started to go in the other direction - very fast!
The wind was picking up and our trip was curtailed.
The Dean was rescued some time later on the other side of the bay! Now
for archery - that was fun though most of my arrows went up into the
trees, off to the left, off to the right or into the floor. Eventually I got one
within three feet of the target - I guess I'll never be a Robin Hood! While
everyone else collected their arrows from the targets and surrounding hay
stacks I was off in the woods hunting through the bushes. I didn't
find/couldn't reach very many.
After lunch we went kayaking again. This time the sun was shining so we
headed up the coast for about 3 or 4 miles. It was spectacular. This time I
was in the back and in control (kind of). Actually we spent much of the
time going to the left or right depending on which leg I was stretching at
the time. The water was so clear that we could see multi coloured starfish
on the rocks some 10 feet below. Then we saw a sealion. Mike and I went
in search of it and moved away from the rest of the group. Eventually it
popped up between us looking at the other boats. When it realised how
close we were, it disappeared very quickly. Several hours later we
returned to our own bay and circumnavigated the little island, eating
seaweed when we could find it - quite nice too!
After dinner, more archery and then we went off to the climbing wall. This
was a huge construction built in a barn on the camp. We spent a good few
hours climbing and then returned to our cabins for some rest.
Monday morning (fall break), we spent the time on the climb wall again
and then were forced to pack up. We thought about hiding away on the
island but guessed that we couldn't live on seaweed. Reluctantly we
returned to the bus, caught the ferry and returned to Tacoma.
Now I'm back in work preparing lectures....
Monday 26 October
Well I guess I found something more exciting. I was intending to go to Ape
Caves but that was a one day trip and would have left me in Tacoma on a
Sunday. Wanting a break from the Tacoma aroma, I heard about a two day
trip to Duckabush so that's where I went.
Only four of us this time, we left 7am on Saturday morning and drove up
the eastern side of the Olympic peninsula. It was pouring with rain and by
the end of the two hour drive I was beginning to wish that I had gone to
the caves. When we arrived at the trail head, we shared out the gear. As
usual, I was given the tent to carry but instead of the usual can of beans, I
was given a can of raspberries; already things looked as though they were
going to be different on this trip. Still pouring with rain, we headed up the
trail along the Duckabush river. Again this was rainforest but it was
different. Not the usual huge trees teeming with wildlife. Then we saw the
reason. Deep in the forest was a rusty cable - the kind used for tree felling.
Apparently right back in the 1900's this area had been felled and
replanted. Almost 100 years later it's still not back to normal.
Washington is a lovely state, but for how long? The forests (even the
national forests) are under constant threat from the lumber industry. The
population is growing at a phenomenal rate as people move into the area
from California. The land is turned into freeways, huge warehouses and
shopping malls. I consider myself very lucky to be able to see the
wilderness areas - my guess is that they won't be anywhere near as
glorious in 20 years time. I hope they never build motorways through to
Well back to the trail. It rained and rained. First we went over Little Hump
as the river cut through a deep gorge. Another few miles along the river
and then we went over Big Hump - a much steeper climb right up to the
ridge. It was still raining but fortunately it was warm. I was wearing
shorts and T shirts under my rain gear so had lots of dry clothes in my
back pack. At least I was hoping they were dry.
Eventually, after a 3.5 hour trek through the rain, we descended to the
river and to our campsite. This campsite had everything we wanted. A
small area big enough to pitch a tent, good trees in which to suspend our
bags from the bears, an area of rocks in which we could build a campfire,
and absolutely nothing else. Right next to a waterfall, I wondered whether
I would ever get any sleep.
The rain stopped. We pitched the tent and while Ewin and Holly slept, Jim
went in search of edible mushrooms and I went in search of local wildlife.
I didn't find any. Later we went up river to do some fishing. Every time
Jim casted a line (well almost), he caught something but never anything
bigger than 6 inches. I was pleased to see everything being put back and
was hoping that the bigger fish had learned to keep their mouths shut.
Apparently they had.
It was now dinner time. Out came the herbs, the garlic, carrots, celery,
chicken, cheesecake mix(!), raspberries and a bottle of wine. Like I said,
this was different. The cheesecake was made inside a frisbee and then
sailed in a pond while it set. We found enough dry wood to make a fire
and then sat down to enjoy an awesome meal. This was an incredible
By 8pm we were all tucked into our sleeping bags. This time our 4 man
tent only had 4 people in. I was amazed how much space I had. The
following morning when the others complained about the limited space, I
The clocks changed Saturday so we had a good 12 hour sleep. The waterfall
sounded great and deadened the sound of rustling sleeping bags. Actually
it deadened the sound of everything so once again I thought I was on
my own in the tent.
Sunday morning the sun was shining but the air was cool. Quickly we
heated up the hot chocolate and the oat meal. We packed up the tent and
headed back up the trail. This time Big Hump felt like it should have been
called 'Hellofahump' and Little Hump should have been called
"Almostasbigahump'. I was still carrying the tent but now it was weighing
at least twice as much. The sun continued to shine and two hours later
(record time) we got back in the car and had our bagels and peanut
Next weekend is halloween so we are only going camping for Friday night.
I think I'm off to Snow Lake. It sounds good and I only have four more
nights to prepare!
Sunday 1st November
This is the first time for me to wake up in my own bed on a Sunday
morning in months. The reason? Halloween.
Halloween is a really big event here in the USA. The shops have been full
of decorations for months and there are pumpkins literally everywhere.
This is too an important occasion to miss whilst out camping so we went a
night earlier than usual.
Late Friday afternoon, eight of us met to go off to the Hot Springs up in the
Elwha valley on the northern tip of the Olympic peninsula. We left Tacoma
about 5.pm in the pouring rain (now an everyday occurrence,
unfortunately) and got stuck in the traffic jam to go over the Tacoma
Narrows. We headed up the Kitsap peninsula (retracing some of my bike
tour over the Hood canal) and up to Sequim and Port Angeles. Irrespective
of the weather, the people on this trip were going to make it a great time.
Jesse, Ilan, Jen and Betsy, all from the outhaus were all on the trip. The last
time we were all camping together was at Leavonworth and that was
certainly a weekend to remember.
The first red light we came to, Betsy's car load did a chinese fire drill. They
jumped out of the car, ran around the vehicle and jumped back in. Other
motorists in the queues just laughed and smiled. It's quite a relaxed way of
life out here.
After a long three hours drive we drove through Sequim, a very apparent
rain shadow area and on to Port Angeles Eventually we entered the
national park,. self registered and drove up a very windy road to the trail
head. It was still pouring with rain but I was forced out of the car and put
on my rain gear. As the Park Ranger was passing, she came to greet us and
stopped for 10 minutes to shine her spot light while we prepared for our
trek into the forests. Still pouring with rain we set off for the Hot
Eventually, two miles later we arrived at a very wet clearing. I thought to
myself 'I bet this is where we put up the tent'. I was right. In a record five
minutes, we had both tents erected and our backpacks were stored under
Off we went, further up the trail. Eventually in the middle of the forest, we
found one of the higher and hotter springs. Within seconds, all eight of us
were bathing in a pool It was out of this world. It was like a really hot
bath. The rain was still pouring yet we could see the stars! Every five
minutes or so we rotated one place to the right. The source of the heat was
a VERY HOT stream entering the pool. We passed a loaf of bread round
together with our water bottles. It felt like the last supper.
About an hour later, we decided to get out. It felt too cold. Half an hour
later we managed to get out. As the rest of us froze while changing, Ilan
was still sitting in the pool.waiting for a towel It didn't help me feel any
warmer, trying to get my wet clothes back on, as he was still going on
about how warm the water was. If there had been a plug, I would have
pulled it out.
We went back down to our tents and decided to leave dinner for breakfast
time. Within five minutes I was lying in my bag listening to the fast
flowing stream just down from our campsite. We hadn't been able to
position our tent as well as usual so we slept in the lower half of the tent.
A large rock had the other half.
The following morning I awoke to feel the sun on the tent. I was nice and
warm in my bag but as I reached for my socks, the outside was cold and
Breakfast was a wonderful dinner. Pasta and freshly made sauce followed
by a freshly made frisbee cheesecake. Ilan had made the cheesecake. Betsy
and I had noticed a bug land in his mix as he was whisking away. I don't
know who had that but I guess it tasted OK.
We packed up the tents and went back to the springs. Someone was in our
pool so we went and found another instead. This pool consisted of two
levels. At first the top level was occupied but when the guy left, we all
moved up, all that is except for Jen who was quite happy playing in the
Just as she said that she was happy having the pool to herself, a naked
man came walking through the woods and got in beside her. I slipped
under the water so as not to be heard laughing.
It was really hard to leave the pool but eventually we headed back to the
trail head, had a good sing and arrived back at the car. We stopped a few
miles further to look at the view. It was fantastic. The Olympics were
topped with a fresh fall of snow.
To take a group photo,I used my wallet as a make-do tripod for the camera
resting on Betsy's car. After taking a photo, we forgot about my wallet.
Several miles further Betsy stopped and Jenny got out and started looking
for something. The rest of us stayed in the car watching until she said she
had seen something blow off the hood (bonnet). Fortunately, we found my
wallet down in a ditch!
We drove back through Sequim. This rain shadow area is amazing. The
grass was brown on the hills, yet either side of the valley were huge banks
of cloud. They rarely come closer.
After driving through torrential rain we arrived at Tacoma by 5pm. Three
hours later I was Skelator (along with an Avalanche Poodle) at a fancy
dress party. That was fun.
Sunday 8 November
It's been a busy week this one. My group project has reached the coding
stage but with one of the best design specifications that I have ever seen,
this is turning out to be much easier than anticipated. The front end is
certainly user friendly and has a multi-media feel to it. Now, when an
error occurs, it responds in a Spock voice saying 'illogical', when there is a
calculation to be performed it says 'I'm thinking, I'm thinking'. Certainly
the Macs are far more versatile than I originally thought.
Now to the more exciting stuff...
I didn't expect to have anything to report this week. The only Outhaus trip
was a cycling expedition and I still can't ride a bike at the moment.
Fortunately just I feeling bored on Friday night I received a phone call
asking me to go on a walk up the Dosewallips (pronounced Dozey -
Wallups). Fantastic, I was going out in the Olympics again!!
We left at 8.30am and drove back to Hamma Hamma, past Duckabush and
down a really bad forestry road up along the Dosewallips river. The
weather and scenery were fantastic - glorious sunshine (the first time in a
week or so), mountains capped with snow and just the three of us in the
middle of nowhere (well, actually the Dosewallips).
Eventually the road surface became too bad so we got out of the car and
walked. A mile or so up the road we spotted a trail going up into the hills.
It was signposted "Lake Constance, a 3400' climb in 2 miles". We just had
to do it so off we went (Kelly, Ilan and me). After about an hour or so Kelly
asked how far we though we had gone. We guessed about 0.5 miles - it
turned out to be about half of that. The climb was certainly steep as it
wound through the forest. Every ten trees or so there would be a blazer on
a tree (small, discrete tab) to indicate the route - erosion through over use
is not allowed to occur in the Olympic national parks.
The forest trail was just awesome and once again we all commented on the
freshness of the air. Hardly surprising considering the amount of rain we
had received in the last week or so! Eventually we could see daylight
ahead so we assumed we were arriving at the lake. No such luck, but the
opening revealed spectacular views of (what I now think was) a snow
capped Mt Jupiter.
We continued up into the woods, the trail getting steeper by the minute. In
several parts the trail took us alongside giant rocks, all green with
moss.We had read the warning about steep and dangerous sections but we
were not expecting to have to traverse these rock faces covered with moss
and without ropes. Apparently we were not expected to either, we had just
misread the blazers slightly.
Further up the trail, we stopped for lunch and Kelly checked her clock.
None of us carry watches on principle but this time we needed to get back
for Kelly's date. She screamed that it was 2.30 then realised that she had
not adjusted it the week before. We decided we had another hours walking
before we needed to return. The lake couldn't be much further. Again we
Still further up the trail it was time to turn back and we still had not seen
the lake. We just couldn't turn back. In desperation we agreed to walk
another 100 yards and then we would return. Just as we were about to
give up we saw a clearing through the trees. We ran to the light and what
we saw next was just spectacular.
There was the lake, a brilliant blue in colour. Mount Constance behind it, a
truly imposing wall of rock, again dashed with snow. I just stood there not
able to believe it. . . and to think we nearly didn't see it.
We had another lunch break and, as I cooled down very quickly, I put on
several more layers of clothing. We were then joined by another climber
(Dave) that we had met earlier. He had completely lost the trail on the way
up and decided to join us on the way down. I guess he assumed we knew
the way. After all we did have a map (of the wrong area) and Kelly could
work out which way was North using just a watch (which we didn't have).
We did have enough food for several days, space blankets and first aid kits
Going back took us rather longer than expected., after all the trail was
steep Our height gain had been greater than from sea level to the top of
Snowdon and all in less than two miles ( a very long two miles, we all
agreed). When we arrived at the cars, Dave gave us a lift back to Kelly's
car. Fortunately the tyres were ok so off we went back up the Olympic
peninsula, over the HOOD canal floating bridge and back over the Tacoma
Narrows. Kelly was about 2.5 hours late for her date and what's more now
had a sweaty butt (a long story).
Incidentally, Washington has quite a reputation with bridges. Many people
have heard about the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows, not many know that
one of their floating bridges also sank recently when a workman pulled out
the wrong plug - or something to that effect.
Today I have been marking exams, preparing lectures and paper writing.
A shock to the system after such another great hike.
Next week, it's back to normal: backpacking up in the Olympics
Monday 15 November
A near disaster happened last week. I was all set to go rock climbing with
Jesse so hadn't put my name down for anything else. On Thursday night I
was told that Jesse was planning a quiet few days in Tacoma !! In a frenzy,
at the thought of spending a weekend in Tacoma, I started phoning around
to get on to a Hot Springs trip. I had done this trip before but no way was I
going to spend a Saturday away from the mountains.
My pleas were successful and I managed to get signed up for the trip. On
Saturday morning at 7am, off we went to the Olympics, 5 in one car
(Martin driving, Jerry (leader), Walker, Julie and me), 4 in the other (Kelly,
Kris, Jenny and someone who I'm ashamed to say I didn't find her name).
Martin has a weird car; the seatbelt is suspended above the seat and
automatically goes into place when the door is closed. You just sit there
and get belted up. Neat! He also speeds up when the traffic lights turn to
amber. Not so neat!!
As we were driving along, we came across the worst smell ever.
Apparently we had just passed a dead skunk on the road. Unfortunately I
didn't see it. In fact I haven't seen much wildlife on any of the trips; I
guess I(we) talk too much.
Back through Sequim (still as dry as ever), on to Port Angeles and then up
the beautiful Elwha valley into the Olympic National Park. We had driven
through thick fog all the way (excepting Sequim) but as we drove up into
the mountains the sky cleared and we were in glorious sunshine again.
Stopping for lunch, we were attacked by the camp robbers. They're the
birds that are just not frightened of people and will try anything to get
food - including getting into unattended bags. We found the same hot
springs as before; just a big puddle in the woods, and there we sat for two
hours or more. This time it felt even hotter as there was no rain to cool us
off. The solution was found in a nearby puddle of cold refreshing mud. It
stank, but only a little worse than the sulphur that we were bathing in.
Just before it was time to leave, we heard that the hikers holding the
higher most pool had left. Off we went through the woods, in search of the
other pool, wearing nothing other than swimming shorts. My feet hurt but
it wasn't cold - it was hard to believe that it's the middle of November.
The upper pool was a fantastic site. I had spent almost two hours there a
couple of weeks earlier but had seen nothing; it had been too dark. Now I
could see its full beauty. Located at the top of a warm waterfall, we could
sit in the hot water and look over to the snow capped mountains across the
valley. Unfortunately we only had 10 minutes in the upper pool and then
had to head back.
By 2pm in the afternoon we were shattered. I sat in Martin's car, closed
the door and started to take off my boots. As he turned on the ignition, my
automatic seat belt moved up the door frame, wrapped around my neck
and dragged me back towards the seat. Perhaps it's not such a neat
Martin drove us the two and a half hour drive back to Tacoma. A little fast
I thought. On the way we stopped at Dairy Queen for some of the best Ice
Cream ever. We arrived back in Tacoma by 6pm but we all agreed it felt
like the middle of the night.
I was ready to go home and straight to bed when it was suggested that
those of us over 21 (Jerry, Walker, Kelly and me) go out for a drink to E-9.
Suddenly I felt wide awake and off we went for a well deserved drink.
E-9 serves beer from all over the world. We ended up with Newcastle
Brown. Despite the beer, it was a great night and I'm pleased to say that I
didn't knock over any tables, chairs or drinks this time. While sitting round
the table, Jerry yelled 'There's Martin'. Expecting to see him standing at the
door, Jerry was pointing to a formula one racing driver on the TV screen.
Obviously I wasn't the only one who thought we had come back rather
Yesterday Kathy took me to REI - it's the greatest outdoor equipment shop
that I've ever been to. This was my third visit in as many weeks and I still
found plenty of things I didn't know I wanted. If I can sell my bike, I'll
have a field day there!
Next week I'm supposed to be going backpacking with Jesse. Whatever
happens, I'll do something, I hope.
Monday 22 November
Well nothing happened this weekend. My first weekend in Tacoma since
the start of the semester. I was supposed to be going on a river trail up the
Skokomish river (North Fork) but it was cancelled due to bad weather
The weather reports made it sound as though a hurricane was coming
through - they had reporters over at the coast and reporters with the
standby emergency crews up in the mountains. Typical of the weather
forecast here, nothing happened except for a few strong winds and some
rain; and I was now stuck in Tacoma.
All was not lost. Betsy phoned me to ask whether I wanted to go off to REI.
Of course I went, along with Ilan and Barry. More polypropolene for the
upcoming thanksgiving trip and a poncho to keep me and my pack dry.
On Sunday night I went up to Seattle with Bob and Craig to see the best of
the Banff mountain film festival. As usual it didn't go quite as expected.
The tickets that Bob had reserved turned out to be for the Monday night.
We were up there on the Sunday and it was a sell out.
Craig made a sign saying that we needed three tickets. We stood there
looking helpless; the management offered to buy back our Monday night
tickets and eventually we got in. The films were great and served to
encourage my enthusiasm for more outdoor adventures. I don't have to
wait long to be satisfied, next weekend is our Pacific coast 4 night
Monday 30 November
I am now trying to get back to normality after returning from my best
ever expedition. It all started last Tuesday night, just before the
Off we went to Top Foods to prepare for our four night expedition. There
were to be eight people on the trip (Betsy and Ilan (leaders), Barry, Ant
(together with his split personality - Johnie), Kathy, Matt, Richard (not
the typical kind of Outhaus person) and me. This was a lot of people to feed and
we were planning to have a full thanksgiving dinner - along with turkey
and all the trimmings. The only problem was that we were going to have to
carry it all. Just the fruit, 64 oranges and apples, was quite a weight.
Returning from the store, we removed all the excess packaging and stored
everything in ziplock bags. Nothing was going to be ruined by the rain on
I didn't get much work done as the excitement was building. At 12.30 I
went over to the Outhaus all ready for off. Surprisingly when I arrived,
everyone looked unhappy. Jen (one of the Outhaus housemates) had been
taken into hospital with stomach pains. There was a chance that Betsy
would not be able to go on the trip.This could spell disaster.
Fortunately the news from the hospital was good and we all set off on a 4
hour drive to Lake Ozette. Our strategy was to have one car at Ozette and
the other two cars down south at La Push. This involved another 2 hour
drive but it passed quickly and by the time we had arrived at La Push, the
first car load had put up the tents. We went straight to bed.
Thursday - Thanksgiving Day
A 6.30 am start. I couldn't believe this, never before have I had to leave a
tent before sunrise. We had a quick breakfast and got back in the cars for
the short trip to Rialto beach ready for the start of our expedition.
My first view of the Pacific was unbelievable. We were now in the Olympic
national park and a wilderness coastline; there were to be few signs of
human occupation for the next 25 miles. The view was unbelievable.
Driftwood everywhere but not the kind I'm used to seeing back home.
Here the wood was often whole tree trunks, some 4 or 5 feet in diameter
and over 100 feet long. The beach was littered with wood. The waves were
huge as they crashed on the rocky shore. The coastline was littered with
small rocky outcrops - many with the odd tree growing on top.
Our main problem was going to be the tides. Many of the points along the
coast are very dangerous and can only be passed at low water. We were
expecting short days, spring tides and high tides about midday. These
factors were just to add to the excitement!!
As we left the safety of the cars, we added the finishing touches to our
backpacks. They were really heavy - the food alone weighed a lot but then
add to that the two tents, four tarpaulins, sleeping bags, pots, water, etc -
we were about ready for anything.
Off we went scrambling across the rocks and tree trunks on to the pebbles
of the beach. The going was tough and slow but it was fun.
Two miles down the beach we reached a point which we could not pass
due to the incoming tide.
We set up a temporary camp, one tent (which we didn't use) and a
tarpaulin shelter, just above high tide line. Now everything was ready for
our thanksgiving dinner. We had the lot -- smoked turkey (precooked!),
potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, yams and even pumpkin pie
with fresh cream. It was a great meal and nothing was wasted. (Anything
left has to be carried out so we left nothing except the breast bone. Matt
had the pleasure of carrying that around for the next three days.)
As the tide came in, the huge tree trunks were just tossed around like
lollypop sticks. The smell of the sea and the cedar wood was just fantastic.
It wasn't long before we were playing on the beach. After spending a good
hour or so dodging the waves (and often missing) we started on the
washing up. Using just sand and salt water we tried different techniques to
avoid getting wet. It wasn't long before Betsy's pots were caught by a large
wave! It was a great sight to see the dishes washing away with Kathy and
Betsy chasing after them. Fortunately all we lost was a plastic fork. I
couldn't do anything to help as it washed passed my log. I think that the
single plastic fork is the only evidence to show that any of us ever visited
this area of the Pacific coast.
I too got wet feet! I had jumped on a large log to avoid a large incoming
wave, unfortunately as I lost my balance I managed to reach a parallel log.
That didn't help; as I hopped between the two, I eventually lost
momentum and fell in. My boots were wet and would not dry out now for
the rest of the trip.
As the tide began to retreat, and after a lot more playing, we packed up
our camp, left no evidence that we had been there (save for the fork now
floating out at sea) and off we went on to the next headland.
As we began to lose the light we thought we had reached our destination -
Chilean memorial. We pitched our tent and by 6.30pm were in bed
exhausted, this time I got a central position in the tent. It was a very wet
and windy night. Several times I was convinced that the tent was going to
blow away - or worse still rip!
As the tide came in that night, the sound of the tree trunks colliding in the
surf was like thunder, and all this just a few yards from our feet. We had
read warnings of missiles being thrown through the air. If still alive in the
morning I expected to see a 100ft tree trunk sticking out of the other
Betsy woke us up at 6.30; the tide was out and the weather was good
again. We ate our bagels and off we went down the beach. First a rocky
headland, then a rocky beach, then another rocky headland. This was slow
going and very slippery. Several hours into the walk we passed by the
Chilean memorial - we were making slower progress than expected.
Fortunately Ilan and Betsy appeared to know what they were doing!
While walking along a pebbly beach, we came across a stream enabling us
to refill our water bottles. Ilan went up the bank to fill the bottles and
promptly sank into 6 inches of mud. Eventually by balancing on rocks we
managed to fill up all the bottles. One iodine tablet and 20 minutes later,
each bottle was fit to drink. It did taste rather like weed killer but we
would get used to it over the next few days.
We pushed onward aware that the tide was on its way back up the beach
and we still had several more headlands to pass before dusk. Occasionally
the trail would have to pass over a headland if its base was never free of
water. We had just reached one such point. A very steep path went up to a
ridge. Unfortunately the first twelve feet had been washed away and all
was left was a very muddy bank. We pulled ourselves up and eventually
reached the top of the ridge where we could go no further. Our next target
point was now submerged.
We put up a tarpaulin shelter for protection from the wind and rain and
began to prepare dinner. Godda Godda (GodawishIknewtherecipe) sauce
with pasta. It was delicious. After dinner we started up our Jazz band.
Johnie, Betsy with me on percussion.
For the next two or three hours we stared at the sea waiting for it to pull
back. We stayed in the shelter to keep warm and dry but the time passed
slowly. Eventually we thought we could make it past the next point, so we
packed up and moved down onto the beach. By careful timing, Ant (Johnie
having withdrawn again) and Barry ran onto the rock just above the wave
mark. After the next wave, Ilan, myself and Betsy moved to the safe
position but the other two were still there, their exit being blocked. We
stood there getting wet and waited for a lull. Eventually we got past and
headed for the next set of points.
That night we stayed at Starbuck mine. During the summer months there
is a temporary ranger station here. The only evidence at this time of the
year is an Outhaus (a pit toilet). This was the highlight of the trip. No hole
in the sand tonight!
Moving back along the beach, we pitched our tents in a small wooded area.
Our tent was placed in a nicely sheltered spot, the others chose a more
exposed area. The reason became more obvious when we got in our tent.
Several days of wearing the same clothes without the opportunity to wash
was having its effects. A slight breeze would have helped. We pitched our
tent on a raft - at least we were going to by dry whatever the weather.
Once again we went through the ritual of putting all food in stuff bags and
hanging them out of the reach of any animals. This time the problem was
racoons, not bears. Fortunately our precautions paid off and we never lost
We were in bed again by 8.30. We needed all the energy we could get for
the following morning.
Up at 6.30 again we were soon wandering down the beaches, still mainly
rocky. We had a number of points to pass and the terrain was tough. At
one point I could see that Ant was having problems staying clear of the
waves. I was a good few minutes behind him but managed to keep dry. A
good ten minutes later, the others were on the way but by now the tide
was well and truly on its way in. They all got wet feet and were getting
Betsy and I scouted ahead and found that we could pass the next danger
point without too much water. The tide was coming in fast so we waved
the others to come forward. We made it to the next beach. It was starting
to get more sandy, progress would improve.
Eventually we reached Yellow Banks - named after the huge sandy cliffs
rising up from beach. We set up a temporary camp to wait for the tide to
subside. We prepared another great meal (which included a cheesecake)
and settled down for a rest. Johnie and Richard had a game of frisbee but
Richard's attempts meant that Johnie spent much of his time in the water
trying to retrieve our cheesecake container.
I went for a stroll down to the beach to investigate our next point. I
noticed a long rope dangling from a large tree just off the beach. For
the next hour or so we swung over the beach moving up to heights of
about 20 feet above the driftwood. It was great fun at least until
Richard gave it a go. First he couldn't get his foot in, then, just as
he was about to leap 15 ft into the air, he let go of the rope. When he
finally started swinging, I was convinced he was going to fall.
Fortunately he just smashed into the bank a few times and then got off.
He didn't fancy a second attempt!
Eventually we voted to proceed around the next point. We were losing
light quickly but we decided to go. We didn't get very far and ended up
returning to our earlier position where we pitched our tents.
That night the sky cleared and with just a crescent moon, the stars were
just fantastic. We spent several hours on the beach just thinking about our
trip. We were very lucky to be there. It was a great experience.
Our last day and so we were permitted to sleep in until 7am. The terrain
was much better; after passing through a small cave and then over a few
rocky outcrops we arrived at a long sandy beach. Ilan, Betsy and I took off
our boots and went paddling in the Pacific. It was freezing making me
appreciate the sea temperatures around the UK. I certainly wouldn't want
to go swimming here.
We eventually reached the Ozette trail now only 3 miles from our final
destination. Feeling down that our expedition was finally coming to an end
we saw some children playing on the beach. We knew that we were
coming close to civilisation. The next stretch involved walking over a 3
mile long board walk twisting through the forest about 6 to 18 inches
above the forest floor. The surface was wet and slippery - just the sort of
thing that we had been getting used to over the previous four days.
Once back at the car park, the drivers went for the other cars while the
rest of us ate the rest of the food and thought about having to returning to
normality - whatever that means.
This was one of the best trips that I have ever been on - the scenery was
out of this world, the weather was great and the company was unbeatable.
So what next?
Thursday 10 December
Last Saturday I was invited to join the crew of a 34' sailing boat for the
Winter Vashon sailing race. Kathy picked me up from the house at 7am,
still dark and with temperatures near freezing. I was wearing all of the
warm clothing that I have been buying from REI over the last few months.
When we arrived at the Marina to meet Mark, Mary and Christopher, Mark
was wiping the ice from the deck. I had been warned that this was going to
be a cold trip.
We motored across Commencement Bay to the start of the race. It was
quite a sight to see all the boats preparing for this 35 mile race.
Supposedly 145 different boats, ranging in size from 30' to 50'+.
The idea was to sail around Vashon island and return to Tacoma within a
15 hour time limit. Fortunately all I had to do was to act as dead weight;
there wasn't going to be much technical stuff for me to learn!
The sunrise was spectacular as it rose above Mt Rainier and reflected
bright red colours off the snow-capped Olympic range. Several hours later
I was lying on deck with a beer in one hand, a sandwich in the other,
watching the rest of the crew fight with the spinnaker. I watched for
whales but saw nothing other than the odd seal and a bald eagle flying up
above the cliffs (the eagle not the seal!!)
Eight hours later the sun had gone and it was getting colder. Fortunately
we were nearing the tip of the island but just as I thought we were nearly
home, I saw how far we had to go. This was going to take for ever and the
wind was dropping! To make things worse it began to snow.
Three hours later, we crossed the finishing line. Mark started up the
engines and we headed back to the Marina. Right in the middle of the bay;
there was an almighty bang as we hit a floating log. The engine stopped!
Mark then informed us that it might take some time to repair and that we
should rerig the main sail. Just as I was feeling that perhaps I should jump
off and swim for safety he got the engine going again.
I finally got back on dry land after about 10 hours at sea.
The good news was that we had come first in our class and third overall.
Quite an achievement!
This week has been a great week from an academic point of view. I
finished my lectures on Tuesday, then on Wednesday, my software
engineering group gave an excellent presentation to the department. They
had produced the best group work that I've ever seen. It's been a great
semester but it hasn't finished yet. The finals are next week so all the
students are busy studying -- too busy even to take me out skiing.
They promise me good things for next semester though - weekend
kayaking trips, white water rafting, skiing (both cross country and
downhill), and of course backpacking in the Olympics.
Monday 14 December
At last, after 15 weeks, we are now in the last week of school. There is no
lecturing this week, just examinations. The semester system means that
each course is completed and examined within a single semester. Next
January everything is started afresh.
Yesterday I had my first experience of cross country skiing. In my
ignorance, I had assumed that this would just involve skiing along fairly
flat terrain, I didn't think it was possible to ski up hill.
Ed and Beret Jossberger picked me up at about 8.45 and Ed drove the two
hours took to Suntop which is a 6000'+ mountain in the Cascades. The snow
level was very low last week and in fact had stayed on the ground in
Tacoma for a couple of days. On the way, we stopped at EnumClaw to hire
some skis for me.
We arrived at the SnoPark where there were only two other vehicles.
After putting on our skis, we began skiing along a level forestry track.
After 100 yards I thought, no problem, I can cross country ski; at least
that's how it started! Unfortunately, Beret and I had gone the wrong way.
We tried to cut across through the forest back on to the correct track but
then I began to have real problems. My skis went everywhere except
where I intended. Back on the road things improved. Very soon the
gradient began to increase but I was still able to slide along even though it
was much harder work.
With the risk of sounding repetitive, the scenery was just incredible. Miles
of forested mountains all draped in snow. Steadily we began our 3000'
elevation gain, never taking our skis off, but occasionally stopping to
admire the view. Ed has a very close relationship with wax and every mile
or so would stop to try a different variety - all very technical! At one point
while he was changing his wax I noticed the absolute silence. Every now
and then I could hear snow falling off the trees. An eagle (or maybe a
crow) flew over, very high in the sky, but even at that distance, I could
hear its wings flapping.
After several hours we reached our turning point. Unfortunately the
visibility was poor and didn't warrant going the last 400' to the summit.
Maybe next time.
Going down was very much harder but great fun. Following the grooves cut
in the snow by other skiers, I began to glide back down the mountain.
This was a great experience though at first I had real problems on the
bends and, not being able to turn, would just go straight on and sink into
the very soft snow (about 3ft deep in parts).
Unfortunately as the gradient increased, I had real problems and just kept
falling over. Every 30 yards or so I would fall into the snow and would
take a good 2 or 3 minutes and a lot of effort to get back on my feet.
The gradient gradually lessened again and my balance began to improve.
Unfortunately the last mile or so was being used by cars dragging their
kids behind in the snow. It was like an ice rink and my performance was
predictable. I ended up snapping one of my poles.
Today I can hardly move!
Well that's it for the trips this semester. I hope you all have a great
Christmas and a very happy 1993.
Christmas Vacation 92-93
The last four weeks have been rather hectic! Mum, Dad, my brother Steve
and sister-in-law Jackie all arrived on December 18. That was just as the
snow came. We had 3 inches of snow in just one hour on the night before
We spent the first week touring the Olympic peninsula, staying at Port
Angeles which was a nice central location. Unfortunately the snow
prevented us hiking up the Dosewallips and Duckabush but we did manage
to get through to the Elwha valley hot springs. A four mile hike through
deep, wet snow was rewarded with an hour soaking in the hot water.
Unfortunately there was no such reward on our return journey.
We had a quiet relaxing Christmas day at Bob's house and then headed for
the Cascades on Boxing Day. Unfortunately further snow falls put an end to
our planned visits so we sought warmer weather over the Canadian border
on Vancouver Island. Though we have a group of relations on the island,
most of them fly south for the winter. Peter, my youngest cousin, had been
left behind. It was great to see him again. The last time he was 11 years
old and now he's 27 so he has grown somewhat. We spent two days with
him up at Courtney. I had been really impressed with the wild nature of
the Olympics but Vancouver island is amazing. Walking along a river
running through Courtney, we counted over 20 American Bald Eagles
within a 100 yard stretch. The river was littered with decaying salmon ,
many 3 feet long, which had died after spawning upstream. Vancouver
island doesn't usually get much snow. While we were there they had over
14 inches! This snow was unlike any I've seen before. Just very dry
powder. Canada was experiencing it's coldest period since 1911. Typical!
We returned to Tacoma for a few days for a cross country skiing trip and a
party which John Riegsecker had arranged so the whole department could
meet my family We then travelled off to Oregon. On our way we visited St.
Helens, now all covered with snow and hiding much of the devastation.
After a night at Portland, we travelled along the banks of the mighty
Columbia river. This river is huge, about as wide as Bala Lake in many
parts. During the summer, hot winds blow off the arid areas of the eastern
Cascades. At this time of the year, the temperatures are in the low 10-20s
We then went over to the Oregon coast which is just fantastic. Watching
the horizon we followed the trail of water spouts rising from the migrating
Grey Whales as they headed down towards California. On the more remote
beaches, we found Californian sea lions and harbour seals. Watching the
sea lions surfing in the Pacific rollers was out of this world. The weather
here was great and much warmer, but it was about to change!
As we headed inland in an attempt to visit Crater Lake, we encountered
freezing rain. It was just terrible, the highway was littered with cars and
trucks sliding into the ditches and into each other. Fortunately we came
out unscathed. It wasn't possible to get to Crater Lake so we headed back
to Tacoma and more cross country skiing, this time at the base of the huge
My Christmas vacation is now at an end so it's back to work and the start
of an 15 week semester. Hopefully I'll get in a few weekend trips and
maybe even get back up into Canada before my stay here is over.
Monday 18 January
Things have really quietened down again now that everyone has left. I
didn't get up to much over the weekend other than watching the Arsoco
Stack come down.
Yesterday the weather was just great, still cold but at least the sun was
shining. I dusted my bike off and cycled over to Elly's. The journey was
amazing. There were people everywhere including dozens on the roofs of
houses. The Sound was just littered with boats; they had sailed or motored
in from miles away just to see the fall of the Stack.
When eventually it did fall, it was very dramatic. First lots of small
explosions blew apart the supporting metal rings all the way to the top of
the stack. Then just a fraction of a second later, the stack just fell in on
itself. Just a column of dust remained to show its original position.
Despite strong efforts to dampen the dust, a large cloud blew up the valley,
supposedly strongly contaminated with arsenic. I haven't heard of any bad
reports so I guess everything was OK.
Monday 25 January
Matt took me to REI on Saturday. I didn't really need much only a thick
pair of socks and a SnoPark permit ready for a skiing trip the next day. I
got by socks OK but clean forgot about the permit. Never mind, I had gone
skiing without a permit before. It was no problem then.
Sunday morning we met at the Outhaus for a skiing trip to Suntop. Kathy
was driving Hilkka, Carol and myself were her passengers. In the other car
Kelly was driving with Ilan and Mark as passengers. I had done everything
I could to find a driver other than Kelly all to no avail. Kelly is not a very
As we left Enumclaw, still pouring with rain, the roads began to deteriorate
with lots of snow on the other side of the road. Even though it was still
early in the day (8.30) lots of skiers had already driven up to Crystal and
hence the better road conditions on our side. The snow didn't bother Kathy
and we continued to motor at about 50 mph. Kelly deiced that this was too
fast so applied her brakes with obvious consequences. Fortunately no
damage was done but she was not happy. Only another two miles to go to
the SnoPark and she was refusing to go further.
Unfortunately Kathy's chains did not fit to Kelly's car so after some
persuading, Kelly agreed to continue. After only 100 yards, Mark took over
her driving and we safely continued to the Park.
Despite the rain, which persisted all day, we had a great time and my
skiing was beginning to improve.We got about half way up the mountain
before stopping for lunch. Here, the snow was very deep as we all found
out when we took off our skis.
Going back down was great fun and for the most part I managed to keep
upright. Ilan, Hillka, Mark and I had a great time coming down. Mark had
lost both his baskets going up but amazingly we found both of them as we
Once we arrived back at the car, we had a snowball fight. All my life I
have had a lousy aim but this time I noticed that I was only 1 foot to the
right. I just started to aim 1 foot to the left and hey presto, bullseye! I
developed a 100% hit rate and got everyone - it was really great fun. At
one point, Mark tripped in the snow so we buried him under snowballs.
Unfortunately on my retreat, I too fell into deep snow and they all came in
for the attack. This was not a very polite attack - not only did they stuff
snow down my back but also in my mouth. I was covered.
Returning to the car, we had been spotted by a park patroller. Forgetting a
pass from REI cost me $50. Ah well, at least we had a good day.
Monday 1 February
I didn't do much over the weekend other than climbing at the 'Vertical
Club'. It's an indoor climbing gym with dozens of climbing routes set up in
a kind of warehouse. It was great fun but I didn't do very well. Most of the
routes are for more advanced climbers and I had a job to get off the
ground. Going with two very proficient climbers (Jesse & Vance) didn't
help. By the end of the day I was completely burned out (well actually
after the first hour) and then yesterday my whole body ached. I did
manage to tackle a few routes successfully but I fell a lot. Actually I enjoy
that - just swinging through the air and making other people duck as you
fly past is good fun. I nearly kicked one guy's teeth out - he was
instructing me at the time.
The weather was fantastic yesterday so I did manage to get out for a
short bike ride. We go off to a Park about 5 miles away. It's basically a
forest on a narrow peninsula so it has great views of Puget Sound. The
trouble is that it has a road running through it for tourists - just typically
American . Bikes are basically allowed only where you can take a car so it's
not like riding in Aber.
Next weekend the Outhaus trips start up again so we are off to build an
ice cave. We'll set off on Xcountry skis, spend a night in our cave and then
return on Sunday evening. Should be good fun.
Monday 8 February
This weekend was (you've guessed it) just incredible. Nine of us left the
Outhaus early Saturday morning laden with backpacks and cross country
skis. We were off to Rainier for some snow caving and cross country skiing.
Trying to get nine people, nine backpacks and nine sets of skis into a Volvo
and a Golf was in itself quite an experience but we managed it. Just as we
were ready to drive off, Jesse realised that his keys were in the car trunk
and now it was closed. After 10 minutes of panicking and thinking that we
would be forced to spend the weekend in Tacoma, he found a spare set and
we were off.
Jesse driving the Volvo, me crunched up in the front with sleeping bags
between my knees and skis alongside my neck. Ilan in the back bent
under the skis and surrounded by poles, Justin in the middle but leaning
forward and Hillka with yet more poles, boots and pads.
Cort was in the other car with Eric, Cindy and Brendan - a smaller car with
the same equipment, they must have been squeezed in.
We drove the 70 miles to Rainier in glorious sunshine. (It has been like
this all week. Its just like Summer!). Driving up through Rainier National
Park is just so beautiful and although this was now my third visit, it
looked no less impressive than the first time. We drove up almost to the
roof of the Cascades (we parked at about 6000') but even at this height,
Rainier is still another 8000' higher. The sky was free of clouds and the
mountain looked magnificent.
We had arrived at Paradise!
After getting all our gear together we put on our skis and off we went
down the trail. Skiing with heavy packs was hard work and after falling,
the only way to get up again was to take them off. Eventually we reached a
spot which Jesse considered suitable for digging snow caves.
Digging the caves was hard work. Having two people digging continually
(one mining, one clearing) took about 5 hours. As there were nine of us, we
dug two caves. Entering a cave, you would first go down (about four feet)
then through a narrow entrance and into the main living area, shaped like
a dome. The sleeping areas are carved shelves around the top of the dome.
All the heat that is generated is trapped. Despite the freezing temperatures
outside, we stayed warm all night though Brendan and Justin were woken
up by constant drips onto their bags. One thing that we had forgotten was
to smooth the ceiling. Any protrusions (and we had dozens) caused drips. I
was lucky and woke in the morning with a completely dry (well almost)
We were incredibly lucky with the weather and as the sun went down
over Rainier, a full moon came up the other side. The views of Mount
Rainier at night were just like the ones I've seen in the very best
photographs. It felt so good to be out there.
The weather was just as warm and sunny yesterday though there was a
very fresh breeze. This in itself was great fun. I put on my skis, stood in
the grooves made by skiers the day before and I was off. The wind blew
me along going faster all the time even up over short bumps - hitting the
stops of these , I would then descend the other side even faster. This has to
be the closest thing to being a human bobsleigh.
We spent the whole morning skiing and then returned to destroy our
caves. We had thought that just one person standing on the roof would
cause it to collapse but we had all nine people jumping up and down
synchronously and we couldn't break through. Finally we resorted to the
shovels and pick axes and did the best we could at blocking up the
This trip was just unbelievable. Was this heaven ? We thought so...
Monday 15 February
Not much to report today. Unfortunately the trips are rather thin on the
ground and the next three weeks look pretty uneventful. I spent most of
yesterday sorting out my photograph album and trying to get my
ThinkPascal programs to work reliably on the Macintosh. That's one setup
that I won't be tempted to buy myself!
Saturday was fun! We returned to Paradise, this time just for a day trip
and with a completely different set of people from the week before. The
weather was good but nowhere near like the conditions of the previous
week. This time there was about four inches of fresh snow and it snowed
on and off for most of the day.
Betsy and Kady were leading this trip so I knew it would be fun even if we
weren't going to be building more snow caves. Off we went skiing down
the slope back to Reflection Lake; this time much slower due to the
'improved' conditions. Actually it made me realise how much I had
enjoyed hurtling down the mountain side totally out of control!
Once we arrived at the lake we began our lunch and were immediately set
upon by the camp robbers - they're the tame birds about the size of
blackbirds that you find in all the wilderness areas of the Pacific North
West. We thought that given the extreme conditions it would be OK to
break our own rules and feed the birds. I'm not sure who had more of my
lunch, them or me.
For some additional exercise we started a snowball fight over on the frozen
lake. While running away I was so out of breath that I thought I was
becoming ill. Fortunately the others complained of the same problem and
we realised that it was the effect of being at about 6500ft. That didn't stop
our game and we got thoroughly covered with snow. I would have escaped
had it not been for a deep snow bank which I fell in. The others got their
Further up the trail we stopped for some more exercise, this time in the
form of sledding. Actually the slope that they chose made it more like free
fall but fortunately the fresh snow softened my landings. As usual I didn't
know when to stop so I found the last mile or so really tiring.
Finally after a lot of exercise we returned to Tacoma. This time I was able
to return my equipment to the expeditionary in the same number of parts
that I had picked up - quite an achievement!
Next week there are no trips planned but I'm trying to persuade everyone
that I meet to take me somewhere - so far without success. I might be
stuck in Tacoma!
Sunday 28 February
Last weekend there were no trips arranged and I ended up staying in
Tacoma. That alone would have been bad enough but to make matters
worse I was also ill. Fortunately everything is back to normal - including
the mail systems at Aber (at least I hope so - a number of my mail
message appear to have been lost in the system so be careful).
This weekend we went snow camping up to Snoqualmie - it was out of this
world! There were only 4 of us on this trip - the hardened hikers! We left
Tacoma at 7am Saturday morning in sub zero temperatures; fortunately
the sun was already out and there were few clouds in the sky. We hoped
that we would be lucky with the weather.
After a drive of about an hour and a half we arrived at the Snoqualmie
down-hill ski centre. We drove past the hordes of people until we reached
the end of the road. There we put on our backpacks and skis and off we
went on out back country skiing expedition.
I thought that this was going to be easy until Ant pointed to a snow
covered tree trunk over a deep gully and said 'That's our bridge'. And
what's more he intended us to ski across. The bridge was lower than the
surrounding banks so starting off meant that I shot down on to the bridge
almost out of control. I couldn't get up the other side so was now in a mess;
travelling either way took me back to the middle of this 10 inch wide
bridge. By stretching out as far as I could and by shear good fortune I got
across! That was the easy part! We then had to traverse up this hill still
with our skiis on and making sure to keep parallel to the slope at all times.
Eventually we made it and we got onto a flat piece of land. I started skiing
again and went straight into a tree. I could see that this was going to be
more of a challenge than I originally thought.
A little further on and Chris and I were told that we were entering an
avalanche area. We were told of the tell tale signs (trees with no branches
on one side - that kind of thing). It turned out that the whole area was
avalanche prone. There were recent signs of falls all over the place!! I
thought I was supposed to be on a fun weekend not a suicide mission. We
survived the fields crossing them one person at a time. I crossed slowly
and as quietly as I could - bearing in mind that I fall over quite a lot.
Eventually we reached the base of the pass where we had to make our
ascent. Having now taken off our skis this was hard work. Often we would
sink thigh deep into the soft snow. After a long and very hot climb in the
blazing sun, we reached the summit and could see our intended destination
- Snow Lake. The lake was a long way down in a very cold looking valley.
We decided to pitch our tent where we were and then visit the lake later
on. That was a decision that I was very happy with!
The night was VERY cold. By 7pm we had eaten our pasta, beans and
bagles and decided that the best thing to do was to go to bed; another
decision which I was very happy with. It was a very cold night (~12
Fahrenheit). Fortunately my bag was warm and I had filled it will all my
clothes. Opening my flap to breathe was very painful; the air was freezing.
In order to protect my contact lenses I had to sleep with the phial under
my arm. Considering the conditions, I slept very well. I was not surprised
to find that when we got out of our bags this morning they were covered
After breakfast we climbed down to Snow Lake and then back to camp
before descending into the valley and back to the cars. The trail was
beautiful. The narrow track meandered through a thinly forested river
valley completely draped in snow. Towering above us, were huge mounds
of snow taking on the appearance of termite mounds formed by snow
drifting over trees. The sun shone brightly the whole time. Within the
space of a few hours the temperature had risen over 60 degrees.
We returned to the cars having had a great weekend. I'm now back in
work after having given a short tutorial. I found it very hard to switch
back to 'normality' even though we had been away for less than 36
Monday 22 March
I have just returned from the most exciting Outhaus trip yet. We have
spent the last nine days on an expedition through the Glen Canyon of Utah.
It was just out of this world!
Two groups of hikers, seventeen in all, left Tacoma a week last Friday for a
1400 mile drive to southern Utah. Leaving Tacoma at about 5pm, we
travelled through the night in two transits crossing the states of
Washington, Oregon and Southern Idaho. For last minute supplies and an
equipment check we stopped off at the REI store in Salt Lake City. What I
had seen so far of Idaho and Utah wasn't very impressive - just a barren
Eventually we arrived at our destination for the first night - a campsite not
far from the Escalante river. We piled out of the vans, got into our sleeping
bags and fell asleep under the stars. It was a cold night!
Next morning I woke up to find Betsy already wide awake - she simply
said 'look' and pointed through the trees. That was my first sight of a
canyon wall. It was a fantastic sight - bright red sandstone touched with a
few pockets of snow; I was just amazed (this happens a lot).I hadn't even
ventured out of my sleeping bag, yet already could tell that this trip was
was going to contain some beautiful scenery.
Within ten minutes, everyone was out of their bags and sorting out their
equipment. At this point we shared out all the gear and food between our
group which consisted of nine people - Betsy, Kady and Hosagawa (the
leaders), Jocelyn, Kate, Sundara, Laura, Karen and me. Having added the
food to my bag (12 items of fruit, 18 bagles (bread rolls), jam, tins of
beans, etc) and the tent, I could hardly lift the thing. I repacked my bag
about three times removing inessential equipment such as a change of
underwear, extra socks and Tshirts. Still barely able to lift our packs the
two groups got into separate vans and we were off for the tributaries of
The idea was that our group would hike along Harris wash, down along the
Escalante river and then up twenty-five mile wash. The other group would
do the opposite and we would exchange keys when passing each other (at
least that was what we planned).
The sun was shining and Betsy drove our transit along a very rough dirt
track to Harris. Needless to say we got stuck - our van was in a foot of
thick wet mud. (It's difficult to describe just how dirty the sandy soil was
in Utah - just believe me when I say that it's worse than anything I've
seen before). Betsy tried going forwards and backwards all to no avail. We
were certainly stuck.
Not to be set back, we got all of the gear out of the van and set about
freeing the wheels. This turned out to be just what our group needed.
Within just a few minutes we were all knee deep in mud, working together
to free the van with Kady underneath digging out the spare tyre which had
grounded us. We eventually rocked the vehicle free and Betsy managed to
reverse out. Not wanting to get stuck again, we built a wooden bridge using
old timber just lying on the ground and this time we succeeded;
fortunately we have all watched MacGyver on the television so knew just
what to do. Within less than an hour we managed to get the van to the
Leaving the van, we travelled down the Harris wash. This started as a
small stream meandering along a wide valley floor. Gradually the stream
increased in size and we entered the canyon which it had cut over the
millennia. The canyon grew in depth and majesty with every step; It was a
wonderful place to be.
The weather was improving all the time. We had started off with overcast
skies but by the time we chose our first campsite the sun was shining
strong. We found a nice sandy spot and put up one of the tents. The second
tent was missing a fly sheet (or so we thought) so was useless. Under the
direction of Hoss we managed to build a shelter. That night we had our
beans (at least my pack would be lighter) and sat around the candle
lanterns just chatting & laughing.
I then spent my one and only night sleeping in the tent. Those outside
spent a good hour or so star gazing, something which I was not going to
miss out on again - especially after a very bright explosion occurred in the
sky. Maybe there had just been an alien invasion!
The following morning (Monday) we refilled our water bottles from the
stream, had our breakfast and travelled further down the Harris. While
checking on our position by looking for other tributaries Betsy and I
discovered our first signs of beaver. I was really excited and followed the
tracks made by a branch being dragged up the small stream. What I saw
next was just amazing - a dam across the stream some six to eight feet
high and over 20 feet long holding up a very large pond. Hopefully the
photograph will show just how clever these creatures are.
Further along the wash we found some skeletal remains of cows. Kate and
Sundara found two skulls and to my surprise tied them to their backpacks
to bring back home. After investigating a canyon off to the right, we
decided to set up camp. We were about to find out about the Utah pricks!
Buried just beneath the surface of the sand were a myriad of thistle-like
pricks. We decided to move and set up camp on a dry wash bed. That night
we had falafel (veggie burgers) with pitta bread, avacado (can you believe
it) and lettuce. There was plenty of falafel left over!
That night we spent hours star gazing; watching for shooting stars and
identifying the various parts of Orion.
Tuesday morning introduced us to more bush whacking; basically I felt as
though I was being whipped to death by Kady and Betsy - they were
leading the way. It was really heavy going and in many parts we got our
packs stuck. Several times I would be freed from someone behind and
would promptly shoot forward several feet.
After Betsy had announced that we were almost half way to the Escalante
river, we turned the corner and there it was, a fast flowing deep muddy
river that was to be our life support for the next three days!
Our first river crossing was by rope. After Hoss, Betsy and Kady had
succeeded in setting up the rope across the river, we each took turns to
clip in and cross. For me, the maximum depth was about waist height. For
some of the others it was half way up their chests. We must have crossed
the river about 20 times that day as it meandered down the narrow and
very deep canyon. As we became more confident we crossed by holding
hands to support each other. The only problem we had was getting up and
down the banks but fortunately no one fell in, though Laura came pretty
close on several occasions.
That evening we camped near the river at the base of the canyon wall.
Apart from the pricks all over the place it was a great evening though the
Escalante river water made our macaroni & cheese very gritty. The
following morning (Wednesday), I discovered my first scorpion. Not
knowing for certain what it was, I prodded it with my pole (used for river
crossings) and it immediately lifted its tail right above its head and
attacked the pole. Scorned by Kady for making it angry, we watched it
walk away from our packs and were rather concerned to find half a dozen
more in different areas of the site.
Further along the Escalante we found the slot canyon that everyone had
been waiting for. It was only about 6-12 inches wide but well over 100
feet high; the base was submerged in muddy water. Betsy pushed me
along first saying that I was the tallest. Great! It was both the most
exciting and most terrifying thing that I have ever done. Convinced that I
would sink down a hole or get wedged in, we kept going further and
further into the canyon. At one point we had to get to a level about eight
feet above us. By helping each other we managed to get up and continue
Eventually we came to an opening; best described as a cauldron, it was six
feet across and who knows how deep. Once again, Betsy suggested that I go
first. I reached into the water as far as I could but could still not touch the
bottom. Holding my hand, Betsy started to lower me further. I was
convinced that the two of us would both end up swimming but Kate held
on to Betsy and eventually I reached solid ground - about chest deep. The
other side was still narrower and we needed to get up again. I couldn't do
it and got stuck with my feet pointing towards each other, still chest deep
in water. Once I was stuck, Betsy, with the help of Kate, climbed up and
over me on to the higher level. A short while later she decided that it was
not possible to go further. Now it was her turn to get stuck! Betsy had
become trapped with her hips wedged in the rocks. Eventually after
controlling our laughter we managed to get out of the canyon and back into
At this point we should have met the other group but there was no sign of
them! We continued our hike and made about another four miles and
many more river crossings over the Escalante. By now the canyon walls
were towering above us, the river was getting deeper and the
undergrowth was getting more and more difficult to break through. We
succeeded in making progress and eventually found a camp site some 50
feet above the river under a small overhang.
That night as we got into our sleeping bags we heard thunder in the
distance. We hoped we would be safe. Gradually the skies cleared and we
were able to continue with our star gazing. At 2am, we were woken up by
the rain. We grabbed our packs, put them in a dry position under the
canyon wall and threw our sleeping bags into the tent. I got into mine! Just
minutes later there was a call from Betsy "Mark - come and help us with
this shelter" - I went out into the rain. Sundara stayed put - she had
jumped out of her bag and into the tent. We didn't hear any more from
Once we had the shelter up we got back into our bags and sang a medley of
Simon & Garfunkel songs. Eventually we fell asleep.
Thursday morning we continued along the Escalante and reached Twenty
Five mile wash. The water there was even worse! We filled our water
bottle with the Escalante water and started our trek up TwentyFive Mile.
Fortunately, Hoss found some fresh spring water so we refilled, happy that
we would be able to chew our food again!
We trekked along the river and soon came to a huge multi-level overhang
on which the Astasi Indians had lived. Further up the wall in an
inaccessible area were the remains of a grain silo. On the rocks were a
number of petroglyphs. It was an unbelievable place to spend the night
and we still had much of the day free for exploring.
After lying in the sun for an hour or so, we decided to try and get to the
top of the canyon. We set off friction climbing over the slick rocks and then
over the rough yet soft boulders. Half way up we saw lightening in the
distance from a storm which seemed to be moving our way. Worried about
the rocks getting wet and the danger of lightening, we headed back down
to our base camp. The skies cleared and we sat in the sun for about
another hour. We then tried again for the summit and the same thing
happened. The next time we decided to try for the other side so Betsy,
Kate, Sundara and myself crossed the river and headed up the rocks. I
expected to see a prairie once we emerged from the canyon but was
amazed to see the whole landscape consisted of hundreds of canyons, one
after another. It really looked as though we were on another planet -
bright red in colour and almost void of vegetation. Every so often we
would find small pockets of cryptorganic soil (100's of years in the
making) supporting small flowering plants and cacti. We reached the
summit and lay in the sun just overwhelmed by what we could see.
That night gazing at the stars from under the overhang was amazing. The
skies were so clear and looked so fascinating when framed by our rocky
Friday morning and only a few of us felt like eating the oatmeal due to the
quality of the water. On cleaning the pot afterwards I found about a half
inch of silt in the bottom. I hadn't thought that the oatmeal had tasted that
bad! We packed up our camp, checking that there were no sign of our visit
and we headed off up river.
This was a long hike and the temperatures were up in the 80's. After a
long trek we reached another side canyon requiring further exploration.
This time we all headed up for the summit only to find that the view was
completely different. The rocks were more rounded but no less
spectacular. After an hours sunbathing (baking) we continued our hike
nearing the end of the TwentyFive mile wash.
The river now was much shallower (ankle deep) and we had stopped
checking its depth. Sundara volunteered to go first. As I joked to Betsy
about what might happen, Sundara suddenly shot waist deep down into
the river. I cracked up! One Sundara was back on dry land, we continued
Late in the day after a very tiring walk we set up camp on a ridge above
the river. The site was covered with the usual pricks but I was too tired to
complain. After a meal of soup and rice we were soon in our sleeping bags
watching Orion move across the sky. Once again Sundara was excellent in
spotting satellites. That was a very cold night.
The following morning we were on our last day in the desert and only
about an hour from the van. We spent what we thought was to be the last
few moments together as a group and headed to the trail head. Neither the
other group nor the van were there.
Five hours later the others turned up - apparently they had failed in their
attempts to cross the river and had assumed that we would have done the
same. Ha! this of course made us feel so much happier with our
This was an incredible hike. The scenery was just out of this world but I
felt so lucky to be part of such a group. Though I have not mentioned all
individuals in this report, each one put in so much effort to make the trip a
success. It was just amazing. I would like to get the group together and
repeat the trip in about 25 years time. We'll just have to wait and see.
Monday 29 March
Not such a good weekend as I have developed some sort of upset stomach.
I just hope that it's not the debilitating giardia often found in the streams
from which we drink.
Saturday I went off on another climbing trip for beginners. This time we
went on a day trip to Index - that's just north of Everett up in the
Cascades. The location was great surrounded by absolutely fantastic
scenery; huge mountains all around and they are all still covered in
The climbing was not so good. I watched the complete beginners try the
various routes with few if any problems. I failed miserably. I assume
(hope) that it was because of my upset stomach.
Saturday night I was really ill and had to miss a night climb to Mount Si.
This was the first Outhaus trip that I have missed. I hope that it's my
Monday 5 April
On Saturday I returned to Lake Constance, this time with Betsy, Kathy,
Amy and Philippa. We left Tacoma in the pouring rain and almost decided
to call the whole trip off. We decided to stick with our original plans and
drove to highway101 and up to the Dosewallips. As we drove along the
Hood canal the weather began to clear and as we approached the trail
head, the sun came out.
We only had a 2 mile hike to the Lake but this involved a 3500' gain in
height. It was very hard going but we made it. The last part of the hike
was particularly difficult as the trail was not so well marked and to make
things worse, we had crossed the snow line.
Unfortunately what little snow there was around was largely on the trail.
In the most part we had few problems; the snow was soft and we managed
to get good foot holds, elsewhere the snow was more solid and getting a
good foot hold was difficult. We made slow but steady progress through
the forest wondering when we would enter the clearing surrounding the
Eventually we arrived at the opening but the lake was frozen over and
carpeted with snow. It still looked good but nothing like the inspirational
view that I had seen back in November when the water was a deep blue.
The sky was now blue and the sun was shining strongly. We hiked over to
the side of the lake and lay down on a rock overhanging the frozen waters.
An hour later, after having eaten our lunch and having used up all the sun
had to offer, we headed back down the trail. The icy sections were now
particularly difficult but we were soon back in the deeply wooded section.
The hike had taken us a good 3 hours to reach the lake and almost two
hours to get back to the car. It certainly was a steep climb but we had all
Two minutes (no exaggeration) after setting off in the car we hit the rain
again. Everyone else who had ventured out that weekend had been very
wet. I guess we were lucky.
Monday 12 April
This last weekend I returned to Leavenworth for more rock climbing, this
time with Bob, Ilan and Steve. Unfortunately the weather was not too good
at our intended destination - Icicle Creek. Instead we headed for the sun
and the Peshastin Pinnacles.
In the past, the little climbing that I had done had been no higher than
about 30 feet. I was now standing at the face of a steep rock on the top of
a steep hill. I began to get the feeling that maybe I was an indoor climber;
I wasn't too keen on the idea of climbing the rock that was now in front of
Fortunately we decided to try a different route. I thought it might have
been smaller. At least it wouldn't be on the top of a deep gorge. We headed
for Martian rocks.
The idea was that the five of us would be attempting a multiple pitch
climb. That's when you climb to a safe point and you use that as your start
for the next climb - well, something like that anyway. This looked like fun
though I still wasn't too keen on going very high up.
Bob went first followed by Barry. I then followed up the steep sloping rock
and attempted a fairly damp friction climb under belay from Steve. Once
with Barry, I clipped in to the two bolts on the side of the rock and placed
my feet on the narrow ledge. From there I was joined by Steve and then
confident that I was tied in securely, I belayed Ilan. Bob and Barry
continued up leaving Steve, Ilan and myself all hooked in to two bolts
some 100ft (I guess) from the ground below. And there we were on our
own stuck half way up a cliff face without another rope to get us either up
Other climbers following the trail below would stop and stare. We just
smiled back not knowing what was happening next. Then the rain came
down while we were still standing on that rock. Then the sun came out
again and we still hadn't moved. After about an hour we began to get the
feeling that we weren't going anywhere. We were right - we couldn't, not
without additional equipment.
Eventually another couple (Wayne and Edie) headed up from the ground
below. Just as Wayne arrived, asking what on earth we were doing just
standing on the ledge, Bob came back up. He left us a rope and then
disappeared. Fortunately Wayne (a complete stranger) took charge and
explained what to do. Steve was to climb up clipping in the new rope
behind him so that Ilan could follow. Great, that would leave me on the
rock again without a rope.
Fortunately for me,Wayne and Edie being experienced Canadian climbers
always carry two ropes so that they can carry out a rescue if they have to.
Using the two ropes,Wayne lead the route and then belayed both Edie and
myself climbing up about five yards apart.
On our third pitch we passed Barry who expected me to come off my
current climb to go down with the rest. No way! I explained that I was on
my way to the top with Wayne and Edie. The last pitch was pretty high up
and included a ridge section. I did not look left or right, up or down, I just
watched my feet. At last I was on the top of the pinnacle. It was a great
view and all that was left was to absail down.
That night we met up with Jesse and Vance and then went into
Leavenworth for a mexican meal. After the meal, Steve and Barry returned
to Tacoma. The rest of us headed for icicle creek where we pitched our
That night Ilan and I had the Outhaus tent to ourselves. It felt like a hotel,
after all there are usually an extra three or four people in that four man
Sunday morning was cold and wet. We inspected a number of possible
climbing routes. All the rocks were wet. The car park at Peshastin emptied
soon after our arrival. I guess that they assumed that we wouldn't be
repeating our performance of the day before. They were right. We
returned to Tacoma.
Monday 18 April
I was picked up on Saturday morning by Kim and Sundara for an
overnight camping trip to the Olympics. Our first stop was the most
important -- off to the Outhaus to pick up Betsy and the tent.
We went off to the SUB for some breakfast, collected some doughnuts that
were being laid out for parent's day and then headed for the Olympics.
After further stops for gas and more food we headed up to the Hamma
Hamma road and the Lena lakes trail. The weather was terrible. It was
raining very heavily.
Kim was driving her new four wheel drive truck so of course we had to try
it off road; she headed down a very rough and muddy track but just as
things were going well, to our embarrassment we ended up in someones
back yard Kim managed a six point turn while the owner was heading
towards us with her dogs. I expected her to pull out a six bore from under
her coat; she didn't and we escaped unscathed to return to the trail
We had lunch, put on our waterproofs and headed up to Lower Lake Lena.
I don't much like hiking in the rain as it's difficult to hear the others,
walking with our heads down and hoods up. The fragrance of the forest
more than makes up for it though providing a lovely fresh smell of the
pine needles, bark and the moss. Though wet, it was a lovely walk.
Unfortunately Lena lakes is very popular with hikers but we managed to
find a great camping spot alongside the lake where we put up a tarp for
our kitchen. The rain stopped so we decided to take a hike around the lake.
After climbing over huge boulders, fallen trees and patches of snow we
could go no further. We had succeeded in making progress about two
thirds around the lake but it was getting slow and hard work. We were
also very hungry so we returned to the tent where we ate some fig
newtons and bran muffins. Betsy started on dinner while Sundara and I
set up the tent.
Betsy was having great difficulty with stove. Sucking, blowing, and other
attempts at cleaning all failed. After a lot of different ides failed we
decided to eat our garlic bread uncooked. It wasn't good so after a lot of
procrastination we went and asked another camp if we could borrow their
stove. While cooking our meal some more of Kim's friends arrived. We had
been expecting them but had assumed that the weather would have put
them off. It hadn't.
An hour or so later we had our meal and went to bed.
Next morning it was damp but was not raining so we sat by the lake
having breakfast. While Betsy and Sundara rested more, I went for a short
walk up the Brothers' trail. It was really lovely with the stream roaring
over the rocks and down the falls. As I climbed higher, I crossed a number
of small snow fields. In a few places the sun broke through. This really was
a magical place and so peaceful.
A short while after returning from my hike, we broke up camp and
returned to the car. All the way back, Sundara and I discussed our plans
for our summer expedition across the Olympics, now just four weeks away.
Monday 26 April
This last weekend we returned to Camp Orkila for more kayaking up in the
San Juan Islands. Unfortunately the weather was pretty miserable and
prevented us going over to the islands which we had planned. Instead we
spent most of the time hanging around on the beaches and paddling just a
short way off shore. The weather was unkind to us giving us only about 10
minutes sunshine on the water. Nevertheless it was a good weekend with
of course lovely surroundings.
Monday 3 May
Yesterday we went on a day trip to Upper Lake Lena; that, at least, was
our intention! Jesse & I, together with Hilkka, Tom (one of my students),
Vance and Carli were going to attempt the 14 mile round trip. We expected
it to be hard going as previous attempts have always involved camping
Surprisingly, the climb to Lower Lena was much easier this time. Maybe
the sun made a difference or maybe our extended goals may have changed
our attitude to the hike. After an hour or so, we reached the trail for Upper
Lake Lena and our party separated.
Jesse has been pretty ill recently with mono so he and Carli decided to stay
at Lower Lena while the rest of us attempted to reach Upper Lena.
It was a lovely hike through the forest which by now is really green. The
smell of rotting bark filled the air as those trees felled by the winter snow
and wind begin to decompose. At one point, we entered a clearing and
could see right across the valley. The far side was just just wonderful, we
watched a stream cascading down the valley side in a series of picturesque
As we gained height, we came across more and more snow. Fortunately,
the surface was fairly hard and for the majority of the time, held our
weight. Every now and then though we would tumble as our legs
disappeared into the snow; often three or four feet deep.
The snow fields increased in size and it began to get more and more
difficult to find the trail. In a number of places the snow traversal was
made more difficult by the undercutting of meltwater. With careful
selection of routes we succeeded in crossing a large snow field but we
completely lost the trail.
We stopped for lunch and feeling dismayed at our lack of progress were
forced to turn back. I estimate that we were within a mile of the lake. I
consoled myself with the thought that it would have been frozen anyway
so wouldn't have looked like the pictures that I had seen. It was still
depressing to think that after three failed attempts, I will probably not get
to see the lake of Upper Lena.
Monday 10 May
This is now the last week of the Spring semester at UPS. Last Friday, we
had the last official Outhaus event, the annual slide show.
On Thursday evening, Ilan, Jesse and I began the recording of our chosen
sound track. The music consisted of a selection of our favourite music
played during the hours of driving we did every week on the way to our
trips. The mixing of the sound track took us over 4 hours to get right but it
sounded just great.
Next morning we started on the slides. Using our joint collection of over
300 slides, we listened to the music again in search of inspiration. Inspired
by Jesse's enthusiasm it wasn't long before it started to take shape. Some
eight hours later we had got it just the way we wanted. The matching of
slides to music was just perfect.
That night we gave it our first group showing. It was just out of this world;
the combination of the music and slides had succeeded in capturing the
spirit of our trips. We were very happy.
Since Friday night I have seen the complete, 19 minute long, show about a
dozen times. Each time it brings back wonderful memories.
This last week has been a sad week. All of my grading is now complete and
my students have been coming in one by one to say goodbye. I will miss
each and every one of them. It has been a good year.
The Outhaus has now folded for the year but the spirit of our trips will
Next week eight of us are off for a week long expedition through the snow
capped mountains and moss covered forests of the Olympic national
We aim to complete a south - north traversal in about 8 days.
Sunday 23 May
I have just come back from one of my most amazing trips so far. Along
with Ilan, Hilkka and Brendan, I have just spent the last eight days
backpacking across the Olympic peninsula. If Paradise exists on Earth then
surely it must be in the Olympic rainforests.
Our intended route was to take a south to north traverse of the peninsula
cutting right through the centre of this magnificent national park. It would
take us up-river through the rain forests of the Quinault, over a snow
bound pass at Low Divide and then down-river along the Elwha to our
destination some 50 miles away. The rangers warned us that there were
two major obstacles along the route. Crossing the Quinault after a bridge
had been washed out would be near impossible and even if we did cross
the river, we would still have to contend with the snow at Low Divide. All
rangers, except for one, rated our chances of success as being very low.
Our preparations began a week last Friday when the 2nd semester at UPS
finally come to an end. Jesse, Sundara, and Ilan had already moved in with
me for a few days so as to vacate their university accommodation. Betsy
came around to the house early morning so that we could go and buy the
food; all the usual: bagles, cream cheese, pasta, rice, soups, tortillas, refried
beans, oatmeal and Betsy's favourite - cream of wheat. Our gorp (good ole
raisins & peanut trail mix) was going to be good but unfortunately when
we reached the cashier we had a nasty shock: $20 for peanuts, $18 for
chocolate chips - we had to put half of it back on the shelves!
The rest of Friday was spent repackaging the food and packing our back
packs. Each of our packs weighed in at about 55 pounds. This was to be a
very serious hike!
We left Tacoma at about 9.30 a.m. with Andy (over from Aberystwyth for
a conference) driving one car and Betsy driving the other. After a false
start from Kim's house where we lost Betsy, we got onto the road to
Olympia and drove to meet Betsy's grandparents. At this stage our
expedition consisted of Betsy, Ilan, Sundara, Hilkka, Kate and me. Brendan
was to join us on the trail sometime Monday evening.
After about four hours driving, we arrived at Lake Quinault on the
southern edge of the Olympic peninsula. Following the north fork of the
river Quinault we eventually arrived at the trail head. Rather than go
straight across the Olympics, our intention was to spend the first two days
on a detour up to the Skyline Ridge. This had the effect of the main group
hiking two sides of a triangle whereas Brendan, starting two days later,
would take the shorter side. At least that was how we planned it.
The first day was to be an easy hike. Just a mile up the trail to Irely Lake
Though only short, this was a lovely hike through the rain forest. The sun
was shining, the forest was green and very much alive, the birds were
singing and we were just so excited. The lake was just incredible. Fairly
small in area and probably nowhere any deeper than six feet, it was just
perfect. After selecting our camp site we sat for a while before Andy,
Betsy's Mum and Grandfather left us to ourselves. Almost immediately we
all went for a swim in the lake; it was just fantastic. We then spent the
next hour or so trying to dry out our 'quick drying REI shorts'.
A short while later we prepared a camp fire and cooked the meal which
we considered weighed the most - torts and beans. It was great.
Hanging up food in the Olympics is a necessity to prevent it from being
eaten by bears, racoons, mice, etc. Our attempts at hanging the food that
night where not too impressive but it is difficult to suspend 100 pounds of
food some 12 feet from the ground. After much effort, we did succeed in
securing our bear hang but it was suspended over the flatest sleeping
This was pretty inconvenient as it now meant that we had to find
somewhere else to sleep.
We slept on the lake shore which was certainly not flat. I had to arrange
the tarp to ensure that, should I slide (which with my thermarest was an
almost certainty), I would not end up in the lake. That night, we lay under
the stars listening to a chorus of frogs, owls and cayotes. It was an amazing
Our aim today was to climb up to Three Lakes, a hike of six miles with an
altitude gain of 2700'. After an early start we hiked up through the green,
damp and mossy forest where we saw several frogs and salamanders.
After several hours we crossed Big Creek where we stopped for lunch and
some sunbathing. As we continued to gain height, the forest changed its
appearance many times. The trees were huge and in fact somewhere along
our trail we passed the largest yellow cedar in the world. Slowly we gained
more height. Unfortunately Betsy and Sundara were still suffering the
effects of giardia (intestinal parasites) and were both a cause for my
Eventually, within half a mile of our intended destination, we hit the snow
line and the trail became increasingly hard to find. It soon became obvious
that we would not be able to continue along our planned route. Not only
did we have to get back to the trailhead to start the main route but we also
had to do it as quick as possible to ensure that we could meet up with
Brendan as prearranged.
Already tired from our exhausting climb, we agreed to return to Big Creek
where we would eat our planned meal of soup and rice and spend the
night before making a really early start on Monday. The weather was still
great so we slept on a narrow footbridge just twelve feet above the creek.
Hanging the food that night should not have been too difficult as we
decided to suspend everything from the bridge. After spending a lot of
effort, Sundara pointed out that she could reach the food simply by
standing on a rock. After more rearranging, we convinced ourselves that it
would be safe and we all went to bed.
I awoke at 5.30 am to see Sundara and Betsy already dressed. Within an
hour we had eaten our oatmeal, packed up camp and were already on the
trail. With regret we had decided that both Betsy and Sundara were unfit
to continue and would have to leave the group at the trailhead. Morale was
pretty low but we managed to set up a fast pace to the trail head.
Betsy and I had gone ahead in search of Brendan and had found a ranger
who was to help get Betsy and Sundara get out from the trailhead. While
rearranging the group gear, Kate showed us that her knees where badly
swollen. It was obvious that she too would be unable to continue. After
only two days, we were about to lost half of our group.
After waving goodbye to the others, Ilan, Hilkka and myself had some
lunch and were just getting ready to set off when Brendan arrived with his
friend Bill. After explaining what had happened to the rest of the group,
the five of us set off along the North Fork Quinault. The trail through the
forest and over streams and waterfalls is just impossible to describe. It
was just so beautiful.
By about 5pm, after hiking 12 miles and almost 12 hours, we arrived at
Trapper camp. Once again, after eating our meal, we set about hanging our
food. Brendan and Bill chose one tree and were quite successful. We were
not so lucky; just as Hilkka and I were lifting our food to help Ilan pull the
rope tighter, the ground below us gave way. We jumped to one side and
were amazed to find that we were above some man made cavity that had
been covered with wood and had since grown over with moss. Judging
from its size and, given the name of the camp, we think that it was some
sort of bear trap.
That night we slept under the stars again, this time sleeping across the
trail. I was convinced that I would waken to the sound of a herd of elk
running towards me, or worse still to the sight of a bear looking down at
This was to be our big day. We would reach the river crossing and then, if
successful, make an attempt to get over the snow to Low Divide. After
breakfast we packed up camp, said goodbye to Bill and headed down the
trail. Every few miles we would get a clear view of the river; it certainly
looked like a formidable obstacle.
Four miles down the trail we reached the crossing. Determined not to be
beaten, we discussed our plan to cross the river; we would use the
techniques practised on our Escalante expedition. Holding hands, and with
Brendan and I at either end, the four of us headed slowly into the fast
flowing river. Slowly we made progress across and it was not long before
we had reached shallower water. Jubilant at being the first to cross the
river this season, we sat in the sun and ate our lunch.
The next obstacle, Low Divide, was 4 miles away and another1600 feet
higher As we gained height, we gradually met with more and more snow.
Thinking about our failure earlier in the week I was concerned that we
might still have to return to the Quinault trail head. Though slowed by the
thick snow, we continued to make good progress and eventually reached
Low Divide. It was out of this world! The pass was surrounded by
magnificent valley sides, the snow deep but patchy. It was the most
beautiful place that I have ever seen. We set up camp on one of the grassy
outcrops and lay in the sun for a few hours.
Somewhere along the last 100 yards of the trail, I had lost one of my water
bottles. I searched the trail carefully, all to no avail. We just assumed that
the Elk had a craving for iodinised water and would be having a real knees
up at their next party!
The location we chose to spend the night was lovely, a small grassy
location surrounded by snow. Unfortunately it wasn't very flat which was
a potentially serious problem for me and my sleeping bag. To ensure that I
would stay put, I placed a number of large logs just under the base of the
tarp - these would act as my brakes. Of course the others had a master
plan; Brendan would remove the brakes, Ilan would place a space blanket
over the remaining grass and Hilkka would give me a push. If they had
carried out this plan I would have shot down the valley faster than a bob
That night the sunset was perfect; the snow on the mountains turned
orange as did the few clouds now beginning to gather above us. As we lay
under the stars, we decided that should it rain, then we would simply
cover ourselves with the blue tarp.
At about 3am it started to pour with rain. The next few minutes went
something like this:
Hilkka jumped up screaming 'Argh, it's raining'.
'Where's the blue tarp..... I haven't got it'.
'I haven't got it either, who has the blue tarp?'
We hadn't brought the blue tarp.
Ilan who doesn't normally use bad language,yelled repeatedly
'Get the tent, Get the ******* tent, get the ******* tent'
Still half asleep, we found the tent, eventually got it up and crawled back
into our sleeping bags.
That night we hadn't been able to hang the food, there was just nothing to
hang it from. The following morning we were shocked to find huge bear
prints in the snow just a few hundred yards from where we had slept.
The trek across Low Divide was not easy, the snow was deep and the trail
across open areas was hard to find. Nevertheless, with the help of our
maps and a little scouting we succeeded in crossing the pass. We walked
along the shores of Lakes Margaret and Mary, both of which were covered
in snow but were being to thaw. Eventually we reached the watershed; we
had completed the traverse of the Quinault. Now starting on our descent,
we could follow the Elwha.
The trail descended steeply down the valley past many very picturesque
waterfalls. Again, I find it impossible to describe the incredible beauty of
The hike to Camp Wilder was only eight miles, two thirds the distance of
what we had accomplished in the previous few days. It was also down hill
but we were all exhausted by the time we reached camp. This trail also
gave us our first contact with another person - a lone hiker who we
advised not to attempt Low Divide or the river crossing without extreme
As we approached our camp site, a huge tree collapsed less than 100 yards
behind us. A storm was moving in and the wind had brought down this
ancient tree. Branches flew everywhere. We managed to escape the rain by
taking refuge at the Camp Wilder shelter. It was an old shelter and leaked
badly but we improved our situation by placing our largest tarp over the
A short while later, after Brendan had returned from his nightly run, we
sat down and ate our dinner. Just as we finished I saw a great big black
bear walking just 30 yards in front of our shelter. Fantastic! I followed it
carefully as it headed towards a tent some 100 yards away. As it
approached the tent I yelled. It turned and ran towards me. I screamed
and ran towards Hilkka. We then saw it walking away from us through the
woods. Brendan chased after it to get a photograph but as he got near, the
bear stood on its hind legs and growled. Brendan thought it better to get
away and didn't get the photograph!
That night we slept in the tent and everything was quiet until early
morning when another huge tree collapsed not far from the tent. Quite an
exciting camp site really!
We didn't leave Camp Wilder until lunchtime; though we had started our
expedition with early mornings, it was getting increasingly hard to get out
of bed even though most nights we were in our bags by 9pm. As we
followed the trail, the forest continued to change its character. Some areas
would contain huge douglas firs, moss and ferns. Here we would see frogs
and salamanders. Other areas would have much smaller trees and darker
leaved Oregon grapes. At one point we stopped for a good few minutes
watching a red squirrel sitting on a rotting tree. As we descended through
the valley the Elwha turned into a huge raging river. It was beautiful.
Everyday we would have a different song to sing. The song for Wednesday
had been 'Here comes the sun'; today it was the turn for the Messiah. I
don't know how it sounded but we enjoyed ourselves!
The trail was now much flatter and progress was much easier, it wasn't
long before we reached Elkhorn.
The Elwha trail is much more heavily used than the Quinault as evidenced
by the wider trails and the more established camp sites. In many places
the camp sites were originally cleared by a few hunter-settlers taking up
residence in the valley back in the early 1900s. Elkhorn was a typical
example with a number of cabins located in a grassy meadow. Here we
watched three black tailed deer grazing just a few yards from the
We hung up the tent and our sleeping bags to dry and made our evening
meal. That night we slept in our tent so as to avoid sleeping with the mice
known to visit the cabins. Next morning, Hillka woke at 8am. She left the
tent, went for a walk, sorted out the gear and food, went for another walk
and returned to the tent to find the three of us still asleep. We woke up
about 10am after almost 14 hours sleep.
Most mornings I was one of the first out of camp. This morning the others
decided to ensure that I would be last. After a lot of convincing from Ilan
to get the tent down as one of our first operations (usually last), I found
that I was largely doing it on my own. I was unaware that the others were
packing their gear as fast as possible whilst at the same time unpacking
mine. Needless to say, I was last out of camp.
The next hike further through the Elwha forest was largely uneventful;
that does not mean that it was any less beautiful but rather nothing new
or out of the ordinary occurred. At least, that was the case until lunchtime
when Brendan proclaimed that he had eaten all of the chocolate chip from
his gorp and that he defied any of us to find any more. Hilkka volunteered
to look on condition that should she find any, Brendan must hike the next
half mile without his shorts. Not only did Hilkka find a chocolate chip but
she and Ilan also found an M&M (Smartie). Unfortunately we did not meet
any other hikers over the next half mile!
Just after lunch we came across a really beautiful area known as Lillian
Camp. Just alongside a large stream was a little campsite tucked away
under some large trees. It was an enchanted valley. We decided that
though we had planned to hike another two miles, this was too good an
opportunity to miss. Ilan and I set up a tarp and we spent the afternoon
sitting in this beautiful place.
An hour or so later, Brendan tested out a lesson that he had been planning
for an interview over at Spokane. We sat like three school children
learning all about the American revolution. Later we set up camp and in
moving our gear, we noticed a little mouse run from over our backpacks
and up the bank.
Late on in the night I woke up to hear Brendan returning to the tent after
having relieved himself on a nearby tree. Next I heard Ilan go out of the
tent too so I thought I would take advantage of the light given by Ilan's
headlight. Ilan didn't know this so had quite a startle when he turned to
return to the tent!
A few minutes later after we were all settled back in our bags. Brendan
jumped up screaming 'Mouse, there's a mouse in the tent'. After having
had a good check we decided that he must have rubbed against the tag on
my sleeping bag. Other then the odd squeak from Hilkka, nothing else
happened that night.
Our last morning and we were slow to get moving. Individually each of us
had spent time alone whilst at this camp site and now we were each saying
goodbye to the valley which had been our favourite overnight home. After
packing up our gear we left singing songs from 'The Sound of Music'. Only
'The hills are alive' was really approved by everyone.
As we hiked closer and closer to the trail head we came across more and
more hikers. It was now hard to believe that we had earlier hiked for four
days without seeing any other hikers.
It had become increasingly noticeable that Ilan's language had
deteriorated over the last couple of days. Nothing very serious but one
thing that I have noticed at UPS is that very little bad language is heard.
We decided that should he continue, then he too should undertake the
same forfeit that Brendan had experienced. Needless to say, a few hours
later, Ilan was forced to walk for half a mile without his shorts. To our
delight, just as we came to a sharp bend in the trail we came across a man
with his two daughters. I managed to smile and say hello. The others could
not bring themselves to say anything - particularly Ilan.
A short while later we had arrived at the trail head. Brendan ran ahead to
the ranger station and phoned for Sundara to take us home. Our trip had
come to an end, but as if the forest was saying goodbye, I saw my first
After eight days of hiking, covering over 60 miles with 55 pound
backpacks we had become the first group to complete this traverse this
season. It had been everything that I had hoped for.