Tolmie State Park

Tolmie State Park-140912.jpg

I haven't had a chance to get out hiking much this year, but I was able to end last year, and start this one, with two hikes! When my best friend was in town we drove down to Olympia to hike Tolmie State Park. Besides the fact that it was really muddy, it was a very simple walk through the woods, but beautiful nonetheless. Another local hike/walk I've been meaning to do is the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. It's been a while since I've been out and I can't wait to get out again!

What's been your favorite hike so far this year?

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Angel Falls

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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?

Orcas Island

A few weeks ago a friend and I went to Orcas Island to move some furniture. I had brunch by myself the next morning at the charming New Leaf Cafe. Since we were hiking that morning, I wanted something hearty and not too sweet or heavy. I ordered the duck confit hash and it was fantastic. Better than I could have imagined.

We drove to the park and got to the trailhead. We were going to hike to the top of Mount Constitution. You can also drive this, but we chose to hike it. Do you ever have those days were a hike or a workout is nearly impossible? For whatever reason, that was this day for me. I don't know the last time I was this slow on a hike.

There was ice cream at the top though so that was a bonus.

The day we went was one of the times the wildfire smoke was heavy. From the top you're supposed to have an amazing view. We didn't have that, but it was still cool.

Once we hiked back down we stopped for dinner at a bar in town. 

The next day we kayaked before we had to catch our ferry. There were lots of sand dollars in the water, starfish on the rocks, and I even saw one otter! 

It was a fantastic weekend. We ended up getting stuck on the island when one of the ferries broke down, but we made the best of it and had a blast. Except for the getting home at 4 a.m. on a Monday part. That wasn't ideal, but hey, at least I was able to work from home that day!

Any PNW weekend trips you'd recommend? I've been wanting to go to Crater Lake, but it's a bit too far to do in a weekend.

Hike to Wallace Falls

Earlier this week we drove east on Highway 2 to hike to Wallace Lake. When we got there, we changed our destination to Wallace Falls. The trail was mostly in the shade but I still managed to get sunburned in the 10-15 minutes we weren't in the shade. Yay fair skin. We took the Woody Trail all the way to the Upper Falls. I loved hiking next to the river but eventually the trail left the river. There were a few river and waterfall viewpoints along the way.

It was a pretty hike and the waterfalls at the end were beautiful. What are some hikes you've liked lately?

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The 10, no, 11 Essentials for Hiking


I went to a talk by a Search and Rescue organization leader and he talked about what ten 10 essentials you should carry on you no matter the hike. Here's what he said the ten (plus one) essentials are:

  1. Navigation: A map and compass
  2. Sun Protection: Sunglasses and sunscreen
  3. Extra clothing
  4. Headlamp
  5. First aid kit
  6. Fire starting gear
  7. Food/nutrition
  8. Water
  9. Tools
  10. Insulation and tarp (so you're not sitting on the cold ground. And so you can stay warm.)
  11. Fully charged cell phone and a portable charger

I will admit, I don't own a compass. But it's on my list to get after this talk. And while I rarely have a physical map on hikes, I do usually take a screenshot of the map online before going out. I've always got sunglasses with me, but I don't bring sunscreen. It's something that I'll start to store in my pack for when I go out.

I will bring my headlamp, and it's a fine one for now, but at some point I'd like to invest in a better one. I don't have a real first aid kit, I'll usually just bring a few basics when I go out like chafing cream and bandages, but I've been looking around at REI and have been trying to decide between the Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight/Watertight .5 First-Aid Kit and the Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight/Watertight .7 First-Aid Kit.

For fire-starting gear I'll either get a strike lighter or some waterproof matches. I always carry extra food and water, and my Swiss Army Knife, but I may also get a simple Swiss Army Knife to keep in the first-aid kit, just in case. And finally, I'm going to get this survival blanket for insulation.

I use my phone for pictures on hikes and can really run the battery down. I try to take a portable charger with me, but it keeps on getting misplaced, and on top of that, the battery doesn't hold a charge like it used to.

I'm also going to get a mirror and a whistle for my pack.

All of this will add some weight and bulk to my pack, but it'll completely be worth it if I need it.

What are your favorite hiking basics?

How to Layer Clothes for Hiking


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?

Guillemot Cove and the Stump House


On The Outbound Collective website, I found a trail with a stump house at the Guillemot Cove Nature Preserve. A friend an I drove out there on what happened to be a sunny day to see the stump and the beautiful view of the Olympics. It's out near the town of Seabeck and situated on the water. It's an easy trail but there were a few tight squeezes between trees. There was a family with a stroller in front of us and they ended up carrying the stroller because it couldn't get down the trail. Also, when we went, it was incredibly wet. I wore my waterproof L.L. Bean Thinsulate boots which worked fine. I wouldn't have been comfortable in anything that wasn't waterproof; there were parts that were impassable without going through water.

But we made it to the stump house and it was so cool! Parts of the roof are made with newer wood, I had thought it would be all old, but either it's a new stump house, or it's been upkept with newer materials.

Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove

And I'd hoped to see the Olympics from the beach, but the clouds covered all but one or two peaks. While disappointing, the sun was still out for us and we had fun walking around the beach. I'd love to go back out some clear, sunny day and see the view then.

Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove
Northwest Pearls: Guillemot Cove

Do you have any unique local adventures to recommend?

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?