outdoors

Angel Falls

Two Angel Falls-1.jpg

Recently a friend and I hiked to Angel Falls. We started really late, and from a different trailhead than the main one, so we only made it to Angel Falls and missed Curtain Falls. The bridges had been taken out for the season, and the trail was washed out at one point, but with agility, trekking poles, and waterproof boots, we made it!

Angel Falls was pretty, and it all made for a good workout, but it was a bummer to not make it to Curtain Falls as well. I'm planning on going back at some point to see them both.

Do you have any waterfalls you like to hike to?

Christmas Ideas for the Hiker in Your Life

I've started Christmas shopping and am about halfway done with my list. Planned gift giving isn't my love language, it stresses me out, but if you're looking for a few gift ideas to get the hiker in your life, check out the items below! I have or want most of them!

Creative Birthday Card

Northwest Pearls: Birthday Card Map
Northwest Pearls: Birthday Card Map

I've seen greeting cards sold at REI before, but when I went to one REI location to buy one for a friend's birthday, they didn't have them. I'd been pretty set on these cards so I was disappointed when they weren't there. But a sales associate came up with the idea to use a map as a birthday card. It was the perfect idea and she came up with it on the spot.

The only problem was that I wasn't sure what maps he already had.

That problem almost made me give up but then I came across some thin flat paper maps and one covered a place we had gone snowshoeing. It's not the most useful map as I doubt he'll go back for a long time, and it covers such a small area, but it has sentimental meaning.

So I got it, folded it, and wrote "Happy Birthday!" along the front. That's all I fit on there, I didn't want to write more because of the map details, but I printed out a picture of him and his dog to write an actual birthday note on.

I loved how the map-card turned out, and in the future, I might even write a whole message on the map itself.

Do you have any creative card ideas?

 

Reading List: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

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I picked up Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. I'm not sure exactly why I picked it up. Maybe to better understand some friends who have done, or want to do thru-hiking. I understand grief. I've gone through it. I know it changes you as a person. There are moments when I kinda of consider doing what Strayed did. Heck, after reading that she did it, I realized that I could do it. But I shouldn't. And I'd be slightly more moderate. And prepared.

Strayed makes poor decisions. She overpacks her pack. Doesn't train.

She just gets her stuff and goes on a potentially deadly journey. A journey that's deadly to even the prepared. She was extremely lucky and fortunate on the trail when if she hadn't had good fortune, she wouldn't have made it.

I'd heard that the book is polarizing but I don't entirely see how you could love it. In some ways I can see how it's empowering. But I don't think that one should be empowered to go on a journey like that with so little preparation. It'd be an entirely different story if she'd prepared and trained through her grief to do it instead of choosing it and being lucky. I'd be a lot more impressed with her if that's what had happened.

To be slightly fair, a coworker of mine attended a talk by Strayed and wasn't expecting much based on the book. She was very pleasantly surprised by Strayed which encouraged me.

Even though I finished it, it's not a book I'd recommend. She annoyed me as a character/person and made unwise decisions that exasperated me.

What are your opinions of the book?

How to Layer Clothes for Hiking

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When you're hiking, you want to layer so you can shed layers, or add them, as you need to. You don't want to be stuck with one heavy layer that's too warm as you're going uphill.

You want to have a synthetic, moisture wicking base-layer. I have one from Costco that does the job, but I'm looking at getting something like this REI Co-op shirt when it's time for a new one. In the summer I'm usually fine in a loose synthetic running tank top I have.

My next layer is a fleece mid-layer. I use my Patagonia Better Sweater, but there are lots of different types of fleece options out there. I looked at a few brands, Columbia, Arc'teryx, and The North Face, but Patagonia fit me best.

If it's cold enough, I'll even have another insulating layer. For now I've been using The North Face Summit Series jacket. I have a version that's about four years old but here's the current The North Face Summit L3 Down Jacket. I'd really like to get The North Face ThermoBall Insulated Full-Zip Jacket.

And on the outside, I have my water-resistant hard shell. This is usually my Arc'teryx Beta Lt. Hybrid Rain Jacket. It's a pretty great jacket and I love it for backpacking and hiking. And it's on sale as of this post being published! I really wanted my jacket to be made of Gore-Tex® and I loved that this had a detached collar so I could have the collar up but not the hood on, when I needed it. And you want to make sure you size this so you can fit your other layers under it.

For my other "layers" I have my wool running socks. I actually don't think I've ever used them for running, but I use them for every hike I go on. While my favorite running socks are the Balega Hidden Comfort ones, they're too short for me for hiking as mud and rocks will get in them. So my wool Smartwool and Feetures socks work better because they're higher.

My next sock purchase will be these Darn Tough socks. A friend of mine raves about the brand and because I'd like a higher pair of wool socks, I'm planning on getting these next so I can try them out and see if they're worth the hype.

You also want wool or synthetic underwear, and not cotton.

As you can tell, all of my technical layers are upperbody. I have some wool thermal pants I wear under a pair of running pants on cold days, but I do need a pair of water-resistant or waterproof hiking pants for winter and rainy hikes. When it's warm enough, I'm usually just in running pants or capris.

And remember to size your layers so you can fit other things under them if you need to.

Do you have any layering suggestions?

REI Dividend and Coupon

You have no idea how long I've been waiting for the REI Dividend to come out with the coupon. Seriously. Since November. I had a coupon and didn't buy what I wanted then and have regretted it since. But today I an ordering my new Lowa Renegade hiking boots! If only the coupon was 20% off the whole order and not just one item. There are a few other things I'm dying to get, but won't for right now.

I do love my Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack, and once on a winter hike wanted a slightly larger one. (I had a lot of extra clothes with me.) I could use the other coupon that's for sale items only on the Osprey Sirrus 36 Pack or the Osprey Sirrus 50 Pack, but as I don't NEED a larger one, I probably won't get it now. If I was consistently wanting a larger one, I'd do it, but the 24 is a great size for what I usually do.

The other items I'm debating between, that I would totally buy one of now if I had just one more coupon, are the REI Co-op Traverse Power Lock Cork Women's Trekking Poles and the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles. I want to try them in person because based off of the information online, I'm leaning towards the Black Diamond ones. They are supposed to have an optimal grip position. The REI Co-op ones though are supposed to be ergonomic. So once I go to REI to check them both out in person, I'll have a pair picked out.

Sadly nothing on my wish list right now is on sale at REI, but my amazing Arc'teryx  Beta Lt Hybrid jacket is. So if you want a great rain jacket, you could use your coupon there! The only thing I don't love about it is the pocket placement. They're placed great if I have a hiking pack on. Not great if I'm wearing it to run errands.

What are you going to get with your REI coupon?

Weekend Trip to Lake Wenatchee Part Two

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Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

After we went snowshoeing, which if you want to read about is available at the Lake Wenatchee Part One blog post, we spent a few hours down in Leavenworth, Washington. My favorite thing to do there is to get a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Caramel Apple. I got it and some other candies, and we probably stopped in every single store downtown. There was an outdoors store that sold some Woolrich pants one of my friends got, an art gallery that sold metal wall art of the mountains and trees, a bookstore, and so so much more. Leavenworth is a pretty little town but it's my favorite when there's snow on the ground. We happened to go the same weekend as their ice festival so there were lots of other people in town watching the ice carvings and various contests and races.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee and Leavenworth

After our time in Leavenworth we went back to the cabin and cooked burgers. We got up early the next morning to head home and made a couple of stops along the way. We had second breakfast at the Cascadia Inn in Skykomish and then made another stop on the side of Stevens Pass Highway to look at some massive icicles hanging from the cliff on the other side of the river.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

My L.L. Bean Thinsulate boots worked for this little stop fairly well. I fell through the ice once or twice but the water below was only a few inches deep so my feet stayed dry. I am planning on getting waterproof hiking boots in the next week or two though, when the coupons from REI come out with the REI member dividend.

Do you have any favorite places to stop or explore in the Cascade Mountains near Steven's Pass?

Weekend Trip to Lake Wenatchee Part One

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Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

Some friends of ours have a cabin up on Lake Wenatchee and we had the opportunity to stay there one weekend in January.

On our way up we stopped for dinner at Benjarong Thai Restaurant in Monroe, WA. It was so yummy! If you like Thai, you should check it out.

We got up to the cabin late Friday, started a fire to keep us warm, and just chilled. After waking up early the next morning, we got ready and went snowshoeing. I definitely need better gloves for next time I'm out in such cold weather. My fingers were freezing the whole time. The rest of me was fine though at least.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

FYI This was the adventure that I realized I needed a Merino Wool Buff and not an annoying scarf with ends that wouldn't stay out of my way. Here's another Merino Wool Buff option. I got the first because it's on sale.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

Before and after snowshoeing we drove around a little bit too and explored the area around the lake. I'd love to have a small cabin up in the mountains for adventures like this. It's so beautiful.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee
Northwest Pearls: Lake Wenatchee

After snowshoeing and driving around we went back to the cabin to warm up and change to go to Leavenworth which I'll talk more about in Part Two of this blog post.

Where's your favorite place in the Cascade Mountains?

Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls Hike

Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls About two weeks ago we went hiking at Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls. According to the Washington Trails Association website, it's 8.2 miles round trip.

It's up off of Highway 2, North of Seattle, and you do need a parking pass once there.

The hike starts off pretty easy. There are a couple of places where you're crossing streams on delicately balanced rocks, but it's not bad. Bridal Veil Falls isn't on the main trail, you take a well marked side trail to get there. The hike up to the falls is fairly steep, but the view of the falls is so amazing. They're right in front of you. It was freezing when we were there, so I'd recommend having your rain jacket ready so at least you're not getting wet from the spray.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls

Once you're back on the main trail, you can get to Lake Serene. I had one trekking pole for this part and it made me want to buy my own set. Honestly if I didn't think I was getting a pair for Christmas, I'd have already ordered some. The poles made the uphill and the downhill so much easier. And it was great to have a third balance point for some of the streams and water runoffs we were crossing.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls

Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls

We got to the top not too long before the sun went behind the mountain. It was perfect. We found an empty bench and sat there to eat lunch while looking over the lake.

Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls Northwest Pearls: Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls

This is definitely a hike I'd do again. I'm so glad I finally got to do it. I've been wanting to for about two years.

What's a hike you're wanting to do?