The Enchantments

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Lisa, Eightmile Lake, The Enchantments

Known as one of the most pristine areas in Washington State, The Enchantments are conveniently tucked in the cascade range near the touristy Bavarian town of Leavenworth. I was lucky enough to be invited with a friend who has applied and was drawn through the lottery system through the USFS with applications beginning in February for the coming season.

The Enchantments have five zones when you apply. It is written, last year 2019, over 18,000 people applied for The Core permit with only 350 or so permits approved. My friend had applied for Eightmile / Caroline Lake, set on the far west side with only 300 permits applied for with most all approved.

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3 Days of Enchantments

     Day 1

Destination: Eightmile Lake 3.3 miles/1,300 elevation gain

Our first day was carrying our packs and trekking to set-up camp. We parked at the trailhead and set off around 11 am. It was already in the 80’s and mostly exposed. The water from the last of spring run off was plentiful along the way.

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Candace, Chey, and Ryan

Arriving around 3 pm we had enough daylight to set up our tents, hang our cache away from the critters and have a swim in Eightmile. Dangling on the line, the wind was cool and comforting and dried our dusty clothes from the day.

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Lisa, Chey, Candace and Ryan

That evening, I quickly learned my appetite was 1/2 of a Mountain House so for my next trip I will need to divide the package into two servings so there isn’t so much trash carried out.

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My cozy little tent rippled in the wind during the evening as well as a few little pitter patters of raindrops fell at night.

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Day 2

Destination: Caroline Lake 4.18 miles/ 2,000 elevation gain (8.5 miles round trip)

My friend Candace and me got up early to a beautiful blue sky. We decided quickly to pack our bags for the day and headed out to Caroline Lake, an additional 2,000 ft elevation gain to 6,200 ft.

Caroline Lake involves backtracking to Little Eightmile and taking a trail with signage that says Trout Cr. Following Trout Creek, you start uphill.

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The Enchantment mountains of the Stuart range appeared to grow into the background as we continued to climb. It was hard not to just stop and stare at the beauty as we took our time to catch our breath.

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Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 6.57.27 AMThe wildflowers were beautiful against the burn-out of pine trees as their little heads waved in the strong wind. Due to a recent fire, the soils were rich and fertile and the amount of wildflowers was more than I have ever seen in my lifetime and all at once up a 2,000 foot hillside. I took a lot of video with my GoPro this day because of the wide-angle lens, it was the right choice to take along. VIDEO LINK

We returned around 3 pm so the hike to Caroline Lake was a full day for us. Candace’s daughter was starting to get a bit concerned so make sure you let your party know it is so breathtaking you will want to take your time getting there.

We both felt so complete that this trip and portion of the zones that is most often overlooked, could just very well be just a well hidden secret as we had the hill almost completely to ourselves this day.

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This night was still and calm, as we battened down the hatches, donned our repellent and bug nets and started in for the fight of our lives against hoards of mosquitos eager to get their fair share of any bit of bare skin their could find.

We finally retreated to our own tents and just hunkered down for an early evening.

Day 3

Morning at Eightmile Lake

This was an amazing morning. We got up before anyone else at camp. I had my coffee and little bit to eat and we headed to the lakeshore for some reflection photos. I also shot some video of the lake which is nestled between two steep mountains.

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If you are thinking about going to Eightmile Lake and The Enchantments, don’t miss this lovely section. You can view my full video here: FULL VIDEO LINK

Authors Note:  Upon returning to my car, I discovered it had been broken into. LEAVE NOTHING OF VALUE in your car. Thieves know of every hiding place in your vehicle. They even knew about the secret hiding spot under my tailgate of my Jeep and the place where the carpet can easily be lifted to hide valuables. If you can leave your vehicle unlocked that is my suggestion. Luckily, the only valuable I had left was a few lug nuts and my registration and garage door opener. I made it out quick enough to call the neighbors and my husband also quickly changed our codes. Trailhead thefts are very common so remember, leave no trace and plan to leave valuables home.

Take a Shot at It

The Amazing World of a Backyard Weed

Have you pondered how photographers get those great macro shots.

Take a look at the simple dandelion. As we have come to terms with their endless spreading and have learned to appreciate and understand them better, we now know they serve an important role in the environment and to our dwindling bee population.

Kids also get excited about macro photography. With their natural curiosity, it may lead to them discovering and wanting to explore the fractal world of many other plants and lead eventually to becoming good stewards of the environment.

Here are a few tips on how to get started and take a great macro shot.

Macro Photography

Macro photography can be accomplished with with either a cell phone or an expensive digital camera. These two types of cameras operate comparatively the same for the beginner. When set in auto mode you just point and shoot. Automatic settings take the guess work out of photography and many times you get an amazing picture.

The first thing you will need with either device is time, an abundance of subject material and the willingness to get to know your camera a bit better.  That’s why we chose our friendly dandelion as the subject.

Here are the other materials you will need:

Camera tripod if available, various colorful kitchen background materials, dishes, dishcloths, a spray bottle with water, a paintbrush for droplets water on the subjects, short stubby glassware, clips, tweezers.

Taking macro photos does not require any expensive outlay of cash. All the backgrounds seen in the above photos are from the items on the left. The photo on the right shows my set-up. I use the glassware as a ball and socket I can swing the subject around and push and pull back and forth. In this way I simply experiment around with camera settings and use what I have available to start and go from there.

Once you gather a few materials, time to start experimenting.

10 Tips for the Digital SLR

  1. Choose simple and easily available subjects
  2. Experiment with Manual settings and your camera’s built-in light meter
  3. Take multiple shots using a variety of shutter and aperture settings
  4. Keep the camera in a stationary place if possible. Tripod set-up is best but a tall counter also works.
  5. Use the camera for an initial auto-focus then set on manual focus.
  6. Fine tune your subject’s focus, depth of field and focal plane by moving it with your hand either away from the camera or towards you while you look inside the view finder. (This is why a tripod is very handy to have) In general if you focus on the closest area there are a few degrees that will fall into focus behind it.
  7. Keep your laptop handy for quick downloads in order to adjust your outcome. I move back and forth between shooting and checking my shots on the laptop
  8. Bracket exposures length and shutter speeds a few clicks at a time
  9. Be patient, experiment with a variety of backgrounds placed in the distance, drop a some droplet of water for the effect of dew.
  10. Avoid cropping. It does not yield good results try to use good composition of your subject and background before defaulting to cropping
  11. True macro photography garners a multiplication ratio of 1:1 ratio or higher

General tips for those new to manual operation. Shutter should not go below 30 on your built in meter unless you are using a tripod. The tripod also frees up your hands to adjust your subjects focus, look in the view finder and press the shutter release all at the same time.

10 Tips for Cell Phone Macros

  1. Choose simple and easily available subjects
  2. See if your cell phone has a macro setting
  3. Use an aperture if available of 4.5 or less up to 1.4 if camera allows you
  4. Focus by moving the subject not your phone
  5. Take multiple shots
  6. Use a variety of backgrounds
  7. Plan for composition
  8. Avoid windy areas if outdoors
  9. Be patient
  10. Avoid cropping

 

 

 

 

 

Outside In

Washington State recreation is in crisis mode.

Known for its beauty, Washington State without a doubt has a large urban population who have either lived their entire lives or have moved here to enjoy the scenic outdoors of the region.

A Right or Entitlement

Recently our state made the news with pictures of hikers and trail usage on rocky hillsides with no social distancing and going against the wishes of our leaders.

Wildlife at Risk

Park workers and rangers have been pushed to the max and have had to issue no trespassing signs on thousands of trailheads where hikers refuse to follow good judgement and feel entitled to use them anyway.

This past weekend rangers started towing cars at popular trailheads that were closed.

It goes without saying, it is getting ugly in the iconic outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.

Outside In

Outside in is all about this one person outdoor enthusiast who is now found caught-up indoors. It is moral belief to follow the recommendations of our leaders because we must do all we can to stop the spread of this disease and protect our lands.

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Here’s the story.

Friday last week I was notified my volunteer work as an ambassador for Washington Trails Association had ended abruptly.

My supervisor, Crystal Gartner with Washington Trails Association emailed me with a very professional and heartfelt letter that her duties were being turned over to another WTA employee, mostly due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak that has rocked the world and our country.

Washington Trails Association

A bit about Washington Trails Association. It exists as a non-profit organization and with the economy taking this downward turn, WTA has decided to reallocate funding (what little they have) and focus on trail reports only that empower its members to make informed choices while choosing a hike outdoors. WTA runs a giant data base with hiking information at your fingertips.

I would like to spend more time on another post why WTA is such a class act when it comes to organizations but, the top reason I chose to volunteer there is because it was first, an interest of mine and second, the focus of inclusion, equity and diversity while creating access and protecting and maintaining our trails.

Back to Crystal, I’m reading between the lines here but, one can only summarize in Crystal’s well written letter, many programs that co-exist as public service and help maintain trails in parks were cut.

Left in existence as of today is the online trail or trip reports with all other projects being cancelled. This means, no trail maintenance, no advocacy, no gear library, no ambassador program, no Trail Newsletter and blog, etc.

Crisis

Washington State Parks, lands and trails are in crisis mode as trails are overrun and are now at risk of being destroyed by our love. A right yes, but so many organizations have come to depend on non-profits.

One idea the talented employees left WTA with last weekend was a hope of filing trail reports with titles of “My Neighborhood” and “My Backyard” in order to show others the correct way on the trail as of today.

My Neighborhood Hike

Outside In

The following is my trip report on Washington Trails Association

…It took two dandelions to find four hours of bliss today.

I located the specimens on my way out on a neighborhood run this morning. Upon my return home I found solitude with my camera and faced the daytime with future fractals.

It’s amazing how a few practice shots and some common items around the house can provide hours of entertainment and peace.

My friends are among the backyard flowers as they return social distancing that is required for my survival.

It is an act of moral responsibility by saying above all else, I care enough about the future of our environment to not go to into the woods.

 

The Cycle of Hope and Despair

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Mt. Rainier, Washington State

Changing Attitudes and Feelings

…Social Media

Over the past 10 years myself and many of my friends have shown gratitude on social media with an abundance of pictures of families, social outings, and travel. Like everyone, this is why we participate. As social media evolves, with these daily examples of life, it is clear we are beyond blessed and thankful, and show this each and every day of the week.

Many times I felt the struggle of guarded feelings of jealousy and being envious.

COVID-19 US Ground Zero

It is March 16, 2020, Washington State. Up the road, just east of Seattle is Kirkland. Life Center of Kirkland, had the first casualties from COVID-19 the past month. The virus is spreading from China, to Italy, most of Europe and the United States.

Within a month or less time, we moved from denial to acceptance. We have sent our kids home from school for six weeks, closed public places, and started to shelter in place. We collectively looked at facts as evidence and then became people who sought hope in our medical community and governing powers, more than seeking our own self recognition.

Hope can be fleeting, however. Hope is and will be challenging. It is a hard to maintain and even harder place to live. When hope dwindles you easily begin to drive down a road of despair. Just that fast.

When you loose hope together and willingly, despair consumes you.

The Cycle of Despair and Hope

Today it flipped for me. As my husband and I walked a few miles through the surrounding  neighborhoods, the lesson I saw was many people standing outside in their front yards looking for us to say hello or to stop. Keep in mind it is chilly here in Washington State, 35 degrees and breezy and clear. Yet I never saw so many people outdoors, cleaning the garage, working in the yard, playing with their dogs, walking.

 “I am good,” I say, “how about you” with a smile, not looking away and down at my phone like I would have done on any other given day. Today my glance lingered, my smile lasted a bit longer. Then it was apparent. I added a word of encouragement keeping my social distance.

Isolation Spreads Despair

No one wants to feel isolated and despair lives in isolation. Hope thrives when we are together even if it is at a distance. We need a reassuring smile to see we are still going on but, remember we have done it to ourselves when we feed into despair.

Togetherness Builds Hope

As I walked I continued to think hope will be the big idea and safety net today, especially in light with what’s around us. Observe, listen and above all else remain positive. We are learning a new way to navigate life and cope with fleeting hope for a short time.

When you become tired and weary let others lift you and don’t drive down that road of despair and take others with you.  I was headed there when I stepped out my front door feeling alone today.  Help each other, reach out from a distance.  We are in this together.

Take that step.

Trail Grub and Snowshoe Video

Nothing is more important than good food on the trail.

A few weeks ago my friend Carrie and I ran into three ladies who had hiked the Wonderland Trail successfully a few years ago.

Since we were hut mates for the evening, Carrie, mostly picked their brains for the entire evening. Their food looked delicious and they talked about how many things they had dehydrated and dumped into ziplock baggies.

Ziplock baggies is key here because on the Wonderland it is pack it in and pack it out. You might find yourself with trash for days if you take the store brand sealable cooking pouch bags. Also if you’ve ever actually sampled those, they are hit and miss with taste with some of the desserts being overly sweet and lacking fresh taste.

When we returned after our stay at the hut, these recipes magically appeared in my email box.

I’ve also decided to dive into the world of dehydration. I should be able to do this with my oven that has low and convection settings.

Also important to note, a wonderful website TrailCooking.com

I’m doing the happy dance!

High Hut 1

Seated left to right:       Carrie, Lisa, Shannon, Susan, Catherine

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  Snowshoe Video

 

Mountains Calm Me

I spent a few days visiting my son and daughter in-law in Ft. Worth, Texas a few months ago when I captured this amazing picture of Mt. Rainier.

My son recently had had an emergency procedure for a spinal tumor. He is doing great now, walking all over and will make a full recovery. It was emotional for me to leave him once again. I cried a bit on the plane but as we descended towards Seattle the beautiful Mt. Rainier completely overtook me.

As photographer, I grabbed my camera, futzed with the setting and readied myself for the perfect opportunity to get a clean shot at that lovely mountain sitting proudly in the solitude of the setting sun.

As I sat perched and contorted in a seat behind the wing with the haze of a dirty and frozen window, the mountain seemed to look back at me as if saying sorry I’m not much of an opportunity or comfort right now but I am here for you.

My point in all this is, today as I look at my camera sitting on my desk and process photos, I realize there are many people we know that live like the mountain. As we become older, we begin to spend less time with family and friends and our world seems to shrink.

Because of this, a lot of self talk that occurs. We contemplate, rewind the past, and perhaps think if we had the past to do over again how we would do it differently.

Most importantly, I’ve experienced more loneliness and was a bit scared I wouldn’t feel valued for the first time. This fear of being isolated can get in the way of connections to others, the ability to be patient and thankful towards one another, and to be a comfort when others need comforting.

I saw a quote this morning,

Choose Kindness

“Today you could be standing next to someone who is trying their best not to fall apart. So whatever you do today, do it with kindness in your heart.”

First Hike

I met my training and hiking friend Candace at Pt. Defiance in Tacoma for an urban trail hike for our first hike of the year.

This January, I set goals for two hikes per week in addition to my regular gym and and replacing my endurance running workout. 

Since I recently trained and finished a 1/2 marathon in December, my body felt sore, tight and fatigued, so I took a well deserved running break. I also had some hamstring tightness that resulted in high hamstring tendonitis. It took about 6 weeks of recovery with no sprinting or high knee stepping at the gym. I also saw an acupuncturist for 3 non-invasive treatments to the area with the TENS unit hooked up to me. 

San Antonio 13.1 Marathon December

Note: The best advice I can give you with any injury or before embarking on daily physical training is see a doctor. During your training make sure you have adequate rest and nutrition. Needing a nap at noon everyday, or having frequent injuries is a sign of overtraining, not enough calories or both.

Since my endurance training has now been mostly replaced with hikes, I will need to pay close attention to my weekly workout and calories. Some of my endurance training will count as endurance, while others days are simply beautiful urban hikes which refuel my recovery and add to my rest days and spirit.

I also continued to meet with my personal trainer who noticed my dietary intake had changed with poor eating habits over then holidays.. My potassium, calcium and iron percents were well below normal based on my nutrition tracker MyFitnessPal as well.

During January find a beautiful urban hike such as Pt Defiance Park. It has an abundance of nature trails. Garmin measured the loop at about 5 miles. Calories 400 at sea level and 420 ft at the highest point. Just breathing in the abundance of oxygen completely restores me. Washington Trails Association Trip Report