Archive for the hiking Category

Fantastic 10-mile fall "hike"

Posted in hiking on October 30, 2008 by poojaland

This past Sunday, Chrissy had the great idea of taking advantage of our surprisingly clear and sunny fall weather and going on a hike. This year has been unusual in Seattle in that we’ve had a true fall season, where it’s been cool/cold, but clear and sunny. Leaves have changed color and are still on their trees — usually “fall” is like two days, and then the rains come in and the leaves end up on the ground in a soggy, ucky mess. But the scenery around town lately has been just gorgeous.

Anyway, Chrissy, Tina and I left the city Sunday morning and headed east to Big Creek Falls. En route, we discovered that Chrissy’s state-parks permit, which we needed to park at the trailhead, had actually expired a couple months back. I then whipped out my oh-so-handy iPhone, and found a gas station in North Bend where we could buy a $5 day pass. After going through North Bend, we had to rumble down a 10-mile gravel road, that was peppered with potholes. Apparently Chrissy enjoys that sort of driving… ;o) We finally rolled up to the trailhead at about 11; there were only maybe 10 other cars in the lot.

It was pretty chilly — mid-40s — so I pulled on my oh-so-sexy bandana/headband/ear-protector thing, two fleeces (one light, one mid) and some gloves. Then we set out for the 10-mile “hike.” (I put “hike” in quotes, because it’s basically flat; you gain 700 feet of elevation over the five miles.) At the beginning of the hike, we crossed and then walked along the Taylor River. Here and there, we had to cross tiny, low streams, but for the most part, it was a pretty easy ramble. At the three-mile mark, we came across Marten Creek, which had a little waterfall. A couple miles up, we came to a cairn (basically a pile of rocks that act as a marker) on the side of the trail. We scrambled about 100 yards up a hill, then went down the other side and came to the base of Otter Falls. Otter Falls was really amazing — basically a sheer rock face, with a tiny trickle of water coming down it. The Falls end in a tiny, serene lake. After snapping a lot of pictures, we sat down for lunch. Here are some pics of the Falls; you may have to squint to see the water coming down…

Then I pulled out my handy-dandy Joby camera stand and mounted the camera on a tree branch so we could take a self-photo. That tree behind Tina was so beautiful. (BTW, I turned on the “Autumn” setting on my camera at this point, which made the leaves’ colors really pop, but washed out our faces a bit.)

After eating, we found our way back to the main trail, and continued on for maybe a mile or so to our turnaround spot, Big Creek Falls. Here’s a shot of Tina, Chrissy and me in front of the falls:

And then…back we went. In total, our hike was about 10 miles. I’ve never walked that distance before, so my calves were definitely a bit achy the last mile or so. But what a great outing — the perfect weather, mild exercise, good company, etc. It was almost rainforest-like most of the way, with moss everywhere:

I highly recommend that y’all head out to this place once spring rolls around. Here’s a great, detailed description of how to get to the trailhead and what to do/where to go from there:

Finally, I leave you with a pic I snapped on the drive home; it shows off more beautiful fall foliage. So glad we took our trip when we did — the rains are a’ comin’!

Taming Tiger Mountain

Posted in hiking on July 1, 2008 by poojaland

So we had nearly record-breaking temps here in Seattle this past weekend — topping 90 both days. I’m a true Seattleite in that I prefer all weather types in moderation, so normally I’d be staying out of the sun as much as possible. But this time around, I got in more fun in the sun than I’d expected.

Saturday morning, I had plans to meet up for some tennis with Anuja and her co-worker Jeff for some tennis by my place. Due to a time constraint on Jeff’s end, we couldn’t meet until 11 a.m. Since our recent “sunny” days start out overcast and then clear up by mid-afternoon, we figured it would be great tennis weather at 11 on Saturday, though they were predicting high temps. Wrong! It was quite steamy. We all slathered on the sunblock, but I think we only stayed out there for barely an hour. Afterward, we lounged around in the partial shade on the side of the court and chatted, waiting for our energy levels to rise. I was invited to a couple barbecue parties Saturday afternoon, but I was still feeling drained even after eating lunch, so I was in no mood to stand around outside in the hot sun and make conversation. So I bailed on both events.

Sunday, I got up at 6:20 (ouch!) to get ready for a hiking outing to Tiger Mountain with some girlfriends. The bridge I’d usually take to get to Chrissy’s (we were going to carpool) was closed for the Seafair Marathon, so I gave myself 30 minutes to take the alternate route around Lake Washington. Due to barely any traffic, I made it to Chrissy’s 10 minutes early, only to find out that she’d slept in and had sprung out of bed just a few minutes prior. So I played with her cats and dog while she got ready. We made it to the mountain around 8:10 and met up with the other three girls in the dusty parking lot.

Stacey (top), Jill and Jax (sp?), Jill’s dog

The hike up was more strenuous than any of us (including Chrissy, who mapped our route) had anticipated.. to avoid the crowds, we steered clear of the main trail, which I think is the West Tiger 3 trail, and instead went up the Nook/Section Line trail(part of which is marked “unmaintained”) to the top. The last half or so of the hike was really steep, so the three of us in the “slow” group (we were also a bit back from Chrissy to keep her dog Maggie away from Jill’s dog) were stopping every five-10 minutes through the worst of the worst sections to catch our breath. At one of our stops, these two older (early ’60s?) men passed by with a quick “hello,” then after they were about 50 feet past us, they turned around and said, “You ladies are all Obama supporters, right?” Talk about the REAL campaign “trail.”

Chrissy, Maggie (dog) and me on the summit

Once we finally stumbled up to the top, the view was a little anticlimactic — in the sense that there really wasn’t a view to speak of, as it’s mostly blocked by trees. (Though, I should admit I didn’t wander around the entire summit area.) To continue to keep the dogs apart, we squatted in two sections of the summit to rest and eat some snacks. After about 15 minutes, we headed back down. Due to Stacey’s and Jill’s bad knees, we went down via the busy West Tiger 3 trail, because it’s much wider and softer and has less of a grade. En route, I saw a co-worker of mine walking up the trail with his girlfriend (I think) and some kids. I waved and said hello; he waved back, but I don’t think he recognized me, as I was in sunglasses and had my hair pulled back into a ponytail. So I did my Clark Kent move and raised my sunglasses to reveal my eyes, and he said, “Oh! Hi!” and we had a quick chat. Also on the way down, we encountered a man in a hiking outfit I’ll never forget: a gray polo T-shirt tucked into neon green, tight running shorts with a funky black-splatter design. Yikes!! We were all holding back our snickers as he passed by us.

I had been madly drinking water through my hydration backpack the entire hike, so by the time we were about halfway down, I was getting really twitchy to relieve myself. Luckily, though, I was able to make it to the bottom where they had toilets. Then we all copped a squat in the shade by our cars in the parking lot to have some chilled drinks and fruits that Stacey had thoughtfully brought along. Turned out on our hike up, we’d gained about 2,000 feet in elevation over two miles, which is quite a respectable (and difficult) hike. On the way down, our alternate trail was longer at three miles.

So all in all, a difficult but ultimately rewarding outing. Two days later, I still feel some stiffness in my quads when I stand and walk after having sat for a while, and I’m still occasionally scratching the six mosquito bites I had the misfortune of getting — one on my left ankle, one behind my left knee, three on the back of my right shoulder and one on the back of my right hand. I’m just really glad I didn’t get one on my face!

Black Bottle and Wallace Falls: Two thumbs up

Posted in hiking, restaurants on June 3, 2008 by poojaland

So I have a new bar/restaurant recommendation for other Seattleites: Black Bottle. They call themselves a “gastro-tavern,” and they serve mainly tapas/small-plates type of food, though their portions are definitely “shareable,” as their Web site also claims. A bunch of us met up there for Marivic’s surprise 30th-birthday party. They accept reservations, so we had a table for about 20 set aside for us in the back/side room. Though the room got super loud as the night went on (mostly due to its high ceilings), I really liked the place. I had this flatbread dish with cheese, roasted chicken and dried cherries that was really delish. I ordered an apple martini, and they served it to me in a slightly small martini glass, but gave me the shaker that contained the leftover alcohol (initially, I was really excited about this, but I tend to sip at drinks, so by the time I got to that extra bit, it was pretty watered down by the ice that was also in the shaker). Price-wise, I think the mixed drinks were all around $8, and the dishes seemed to range from $8 to $11. Even better — BB is located on the corner of 1st and Vine, so it’s on the outskirts of the super busy Belltown area, and parking was pretty easy. They’re online at

Sunday was a hike at Wallace Falls with Chrissy and Matt and Nicole and their adorable 10-month-old boys. It was a perfect day for this sort of outing — clear, but damp with threatening skies (it never did rain). We all hiked together for a couple hours to the Middle Falls:

From left: me, Chrissy, Nicole, Teagan (in carrier), Matt and Korbin (in carrier).

Then Nicole, et al, had to head back down as they didn’t want to tire the boys out. Chrissy and I continued on up. I think we had to go about another mile up, and it was all switchbacks (fun). Though I definitely was slow going up them, I’m proud to say I didn’t stop once! So the lungs are getting in better shape, slowly but surely.

Here’s the view we enjoyed once we got to the top of the falls:

We put a couple plastic bags on a damp log and sat down for some quick lunch. I say quick because about seven minutes in, Chrissy saw a large (10-12-person?) group on a log below us start packing up, and she was worried we’d get stuck behind them on the way down (she had a bit of a time constraint to meet her family for her brother’s birthday outing). So I crammed everything back into my pack, and finished up my cherries as we trekked down, spitting out seeds on either side of the path along the way. Our shoes and pants’ hems were pretty muddy by the time we got to the car, but all in all, another great outing.

Rice showers and squatting in the woods

Posted in hiking, weddings on May 28, 2008 by poojaland

Sunday afternoon, my family went to the wedding of a family friend’s daughter. She’s Indian (raised in Seattle), and he’s white, but the ceremony was all Indian. Everything was really lovely. I got some laughs before the ceremony started; my dad was sitting next to me, and for a while, was holding his friend’s year-old son on his lap. I heard a family friend behind me ask “Who’s that kid on his lap?” I put my hands palms-up, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Surprise!” All our friends within earshot were cracking up.

So, as we had all walked in, we were handed an Indian sweet and this little bag of colored dry rice. About 2/3 of the way through the ceremony, the priest (another family friend) told us that at three times during his next series of incantations, we were to toss a little bit of the rice up toward the bride and groom. My family was sitting about four rows back in an area with seven or eight rows, which meant that every time the tossing started, we’d get pelted in the back of the head by the rice throwers in the rows behind us. And then, some random person behind us (I didn’t want to turn around to look and give them the satisfaction) started throwing rice randomly at the wrong time! Yeesh. A few minutes later, the guy sitting next to my dad got up for a bathroom run, and on his seat was this pile of the colored rice! We were all like “Huh??,” wondering how/why it had gotten there.

Also, haha, one instruction you’ll hear at an Indian wedding that you’ll never hear at a Western-style one: “Put the coconut over there.”

View of the falls from the viewing deck

Monday (Memorial Day), my friend Chrissy and I headed to Twin Falls for a mini day hike. En route, we picked up Stacey in North Bend. We got a bit of a late start — noon — and due to the nice weather (mid-70s), the trail was pretty packed. But it was so great to be walking near the river’s edge, and then up to the side of the waterfall itself. There was a great, cool breeze coming off the water, and the falls and river were super full due to all the runoff. Midway up the trail, we walked down some stairs to stand in the mist of the falls’ spray. The wind and spray were so intense that when I faced the fall head on, I literally lost my breath. We hiked up to the top — I think just about two miles? — and then wandered a bit down the John Wayne trail, which is an old railroad track, now sans track. We sat on a random log off the path to have a snack. And then..

Stacey, Chrissy and Maggie in front of the

I copped a squat in the woods to relieve myself for the first time in like 10 years (the last time was in India). I had been quite enjoying drinking from my new Camelbak backpack, and there wouldn’t really have been any place to squat in private on the way down. Then we packed up and headed further down the J.W. Trail, and…wouldn’t you know it — hit some Porta Pottys about 10 minutes later. Typical! Then we walked over some trellises/bridges with some great views of I-90 and the mountains, and crossed an area where people — even kids as young as three or so — were doing some rock climbing. Around 4:15, we got back to the car and headed to Stacey’s. Her house is amazing — it’s on one acre of land, almost literally at the base of Mt. Si (there’s only a road and some trees between her front yard and the mountain). We ate some more, lounged on her patio, tossed the slimy squishy toy to Chrissy’s dog Maggie, looked for goats on the mountain (“Goat Watch 2008”! we actually found three), saw a couple birds’ nests (one with little babies, one with eggs) and generally enjoyed the beautiful day. I think we sat out there for like two hours; it was a great way to wrap up the long weekend. Here’s a shot of the view of Mt. Si from Stacey’s yard: