TALUS LOOP TRAIL HIKE & TENERIFFE

While the Doppler showed a ‘sunny’ day, our 6.5 mile hike to the Talus Slope Peak (@2300-ft) via the Teneriffe Trail turned out to be a pot-pourri of sun-rain-snow temps ranging between high-30s to mid-40s. A huge overnight snow storm dropped 2-4 inches of snow all the way to the trail head. Scenery from the imposing Talus pile included Mail Box Peak, Mt. Washington and McLellan Butte. (Excuse the bragging: we’ve done them all!) Good place to break for snacks & tea, but jagged (and not all that stable) rocks offered no comfort.

A thoughtful hiker’s artwork cairn guided us where the snow obscured the trail.

The red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes E.) was the only wildlife we came across.

Hiking buddy Mocha the Mountain Dog didn’t break a sweat!

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URBAN RARE MARINE LIFE SIGHTING- NORTHERN ELEPHANT SEAL

Right in town, Seattle’s Waterfront Myrtle Edwards Park, WE MET ELOISE! Briefly; Eloise is a rare female Northern Elephant Seal, who is known to be the 5-year old (now about 800 lbs). Recorded as born near Whidbey Island but as a pup, almost fatally attacked by coyotes in April of 2018. Rescued, healed and released to water around Baby Island (north Puget Sound) and today was sunning in Seattle. Actually ‘molting’, as in shedding her fur coat. Eloise is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, as all others. SO, we stayed watch and tried to warn off the dog owners to keep their pets on leash and on-lookers to stay at least 100 yards. NOTE: Males of this species are 13-ft in length and weigh up to 4400-lbs. Eloise, being a female will weigh 1300-lbs and get to be 10-ft long. Males at age-7, develop an inflatable nose (proboscis) that helps them to resonate threatening sounds to other males. Eloise was all quiet and only moved her eyes towards us and occasionally blowing up clouds of sand and flapping sand with her flippers.

AND finally here is her real biological name: Mirounga Angustirostris . For a downtown park, it was a fascinating encounter.

UPDATE: WELL, A MISTAKEN IDENTITY !! Whom we thought was Eloise, actually turned out to be one that looked just like her. An official with a super-zoom lens was able to read a tag on the darling juvenile elephant seal and traced her back to California parents who is just over to ‘molt’. She is expected to stay in Seattle for up to 4-weeks before her spa&grooming is completed. Just thought I should share.

WEST TIGER MOUNTAIN PEAK #2 – THE LEAST POPULAR TRAIL

First 60-degree day after long cold winter, it was the best 7-mile re-conditioning hike for us. Only handful people, some masked/some happily not, minimal mud and a hearty ascent with 2300-ft elevation gain, and same on the descent. It is evident that this is the least popular, because it is steeper than others and there is no picnic bench to enjoy a well earned lunch.(2-day old pizza) It’s not our first time up this one, but now I looked up the Radio/TV towers history. Evidently, this 350-ft high tower/antenna was built in 1999 by American Tower Co. serves multiple large broadcasting companies (IHeart, Hubbard and others) had a major fire damage in November of 2018. Until repaired, it operated from an auxiliary site @Cougar Mt. nearby.

What little left of snow made a good source of water for our hiking buddy, Mocha III. She also had much fun chasing a very vocal owl off its tree. NOTE: My most-read ebooks last couple weeks were: IMMERSED IN MALICE- Seattle’s Pike Place Market virtual reality thriller. And, RUNNING WITH THE SPIES, Mount Rainier Ranger’s story.NOTE: Planning the Telescope Peak, CA. climb for June, when it’s snow free. HAPPY EASTER!

A TOUGH CINDER CONE TO CLIMB – MOUNT PEAK

Frigid Mount Rainier (14,411 ft) in the background, climb 1000 ft. to reach the modest summit of Mount Peak, standing @1900 ft. This volcanic origin mountain is near town of Enumclaw, claimed to translate to, Place of Evil! Favourite trail of trail runners and those who are training for a quick stamina. Many switchbacks, steps and wire hold only on one section where a wash-out had left the passage too narrow. Noteworthy are the sections with BASALT column formations. As Steve researched the geological info, when hot red magma cools over time it makes formations; if these are long and straight they’re called ‘colonnades‘ and if pushed and morphed into irregular shapes, they’re called ‘entablatures‘. (see below) Learn something everyday!

Another noteworthy point is at the foot of Mount Peak, with Rainier peering down the foothills in the valley-can’t see it today too hazy-, is the establishment called Mount Peak Farm Wedding & Event Venue. Many a pastoral, super romantic wedding receptions have been catered here on the farm’s 9-acre level grounds. Cost $$$$?? (see below)

Below, I could be reflecting on last week’s super activity on this blog site: Over 180 visitors from a dozen international lands?? If only all who visited would be checking out my Amazon Kindle e-books.(a wishful sigh) BTW: This week free download is a truly eccentric story about Seattle’s Pike Place Market; titled, Immersed in Malice.. Or, select title, Running with the Spies, based on a true story, then spy fiction about a gutsy female ranger of Mount Rainier National Park.

PICACHO PEAK HIKE WAS ‘SOLD OUT’ CLOSED!

If you want to hike this trail ‘come during the week‘ Ranger told us. Based on the parking lot capacity, the trail on this Saturday was CLOSED! We’ll try again soon.

If driving on Interstate-10 of AZ State, not far from the booming town CASA GRANDE, the prominent pointe of Picacho Peak State Park will steal your focus. The 6.2 mile hike to the 3374 ft- peak has a history; It was the grounds for ‘Battle of Picacho Pass’ skirmish between Union and Confederate soldiers in Civil War. Route is steep up through the Sonoran desert, and home to most of the reptile like the ‘mounted’ one in the picture below: [Quoting Steve, who had a python while teaching science class in the 70s] .. This beautiful Western Diamondback Rattler, aka. crotalus atrox becomes most active in April. Technically a ‘pit viper’, it strikes when its ‘pits’ sense the heat of an approaching animal. Case in point, like a careless hiker, wandering off the path.

NOTE #01 : One of my earlier Kindle e-books, titled: CRESCENT MOON OVER FLATIRON, a gold mine thriller I concocted while climbing the Superstition Mountains, not far from Casa Grande, will be a good one to read when visiting AZ. NOTE #02 : The new e-book, which I’m still hammering out the explosive ending, titled : BLOOD IN MARCIE’S CAR ? is ETA around September. NOTE #03 : Thank You to readers from Chile, India, Canada, Turkey and Denmark..

HIDDEN CAMPSITE ON SOUTH TIGER PEAK

In Seattle if you hear about ONE sunny day in February, you drop everything and go HIKE! Doppler showed today as (partly) sunny, temps in low 40’s. Among the six peaks of the Tiger Mountain range, South Peak is the least known/least hiked stands @ 2,028 ft-high. A [7-mile]road hike with relatively no mud and only a collective total 900-ft. vertical gain. The road climbs South Mountain to a ridge top where the road curved up and became a narrow boot trail. Climbing the boot path for just ten minutes rewarded us with a really secluded campsite with fire pit and benches! Even an old hitching post for horses, but none today.

Chow time for the Mocha, the puppy. No views from the top of South Tiger.

The views to the South appears only as the road nears the top. Most of the top was logged about five years ago.

We can only guess that this orange car [guessing 60’s Gremlin] was probably rolled off a logging road during a 1970’s timber harvest. See the moss encrusted roof! An overly inquiring mind,(mine) asks: No bones or bodies?

NOTE: Most read of my e-books in the last weeks of Dec. 2020: – HER LAST HIT – Plot travels between Istanbul’s Bosphorus shores, shadows the Saudi journalist Khasoggi murder mystery with a twist, and back to Seattle. Readers from India, Denmark and Japan…

12-MILE HIKE/CLIMB OF RED ROCK MOUNTAIN-NORTH PEAK

Stunning first rays of the sun at 6.30a.

Spring Mountain Range, here we come! Hikers (like us) who crave no-nonsense, mud-free winter hiking, use some air miles, fly to the ‘Sin City‘ , and drive 20 miles to Red Rock to enjoy spectacular hiking and climbing in a paradise called RED ROCK Canyon Conservation Park. Keeping Ranger’s warning of the impending weather change in mind, we started at sunrise. Below: Surveying the route.

First 4.8 miles with gradually increasing slope on the rough gravel+ (thanks to large scattered boulders monster trucks wouldn’t dare to cheat & drive up), reach the Red Rock Pass @ 6430-ft. The rest becomes a decent trail that leads to a class 2+scramble/climb up to the Red Rock North Peak @ 7244-ft (Limestone Peak), just before 11am. High winds made it hard to stay stable on your feet to take pix. While the wind velocity at the parking lot was a bearable cool 15-20mph, at higher levels and especially the peak, the force of cold wind gusts (40+mph) simply became threatening. Despite the sun later on , the temp never exceeded high 30’s. Below: Appealing to the Peak!

Below: At the Limestone peak, over Steve’s shoulder is the lower sandstone peak.

Below: Sheltering at a rare windless rock soaking up rays.
Below: Prickly pear (ground) cacti.

NOTEWORTY: (as learned from research) Geological wonders of Aztec Sandstone came from the sand from what used to be the bottom of super-ocean from Jurassic Period (180/190 million years ago). Limestone is also the product of calcified remains of sea life from the super-ocean era, that packed together and is exposed in this area. Did not see any feral Burros, or Bighorn sheep, but plenty of ‘scat’ from javelinas. The real bonus was a sandstone with petroglyphs (swiggles only) on it.

Barely out of the mountain, look back where we were (orange arrow is Red Rock North Peak). As the ranger promised, the ‘weather change’ is about to pounce on the peak .UPDATE on my Amazon Kindle e-books: Most read this week: Murder on the PCT and Confidentially in Peru. NOW new IN THE WORKS: A few chapters into my next one; ‘Untitled’ so far – (but maybe Blood in Marcie’s Car???) , the plot is progressing towards Chinese meta data hacking PLUS disturbing but true tidbits about Ted Bundy –the serial killer‘s- dumping grounds: Taylor Mountain..on the side….just heads up.

KENDALL LAKES SNOWSHOE DAY

A 4+mile snowshoe trail that starts with a gentle slope then gets steeper after a few switchbacks. With faint sun, some fog and temps low 30s, a refreshing day. Parking packed, beginning part filled with families and sledding kids, but all is worth the work. Mocha, the Puppy, practiced her smelling techniques from Switzerland’s St. Bernard pass ancestry. A cup of hot tea for us, lunch for the puppy. Our day is done.

Mocha making friends.

Tumbling in powder @ 3000-ft level. 3 little Alpine lakes(Kendall Lakes) would be 1 more mile and another 1000-ft hike up. There is less than an hour of daylight left, so we return.

Time to mask up and return to Seattle.

Mocha spots more furry friends coming up the trail.

STUMBLING UPON HORSES & COWBOYS ON WEST TAYLOR

It’s not every time you hike up the West Taylor Mountain that you stumble upon five northwestern cowboys, their horses tied across the road, cooking cans of soup on open fire! Above is the picture of these fine men, with their permission,of course, finding solace near the peak, away from the masked city of Seattle. NOTE: Mocha, the Puppy lays eyes on a horse for the first time in his life!

Below showing of their chaps and spurs. (upon our request)

Amid the relentless downpour days last week a seasonal waterfall just ramping up. NOTE: Free downloads on Amazon Kindle this week is my e-book: Murder on the Pacific Crest Trail (Expanded new version).

A PANDEMIC CHRISTMAS EVE – 2020 IN SEATTLE

Just a short hike around Discovery Park as the dense fog of last night finally recedes; Mount Rainier, Space Needle and the dome of the Seattle’s new Hockey team, ‘Kraken’s & Climate Pledge Arena is peeking through. Olympic Mountains across the Elliott Bay is showing off their take. As is the Cascade Range where ski resorts are open and running, with ‘limited’ capacity. Frustrated with the 14-day quarantine none of the (snow free) day climbs or hikes in CA, AZ are possible for a while. Itchy feet, itchier hiking boots! NOTE # 1 : Future wish list includes, Telescope Peak, Death Valley, CA and many peaks in AZ.

NOTE # 2 : This is the time readership of my e-book, titled ‘Double Wired‘ hit a record. Ironic as it is, the narrative is inspired by the Jihadist terrorist, Boko Haram’s mass kidnapping of the school children. The inside story is very educational. I recommend a free down-load this week. HAPPY READING-HAPPY HOLIDAYS.