8/2017 – 10/2017: Van travel in NW US and SW Canada


Drive SLC to Boise, dinner with friends downtown.


Time with family in Boise.


Pick up Anjuli in the morning, drove to start of backpack, then backpacked in to bear valley hot spring and spent some time in the spring.


I did a side trip in the morning up a nearby “peak”, very smoky so poor views but spotted some elk, later on went with Ken to the big (swimming) hole, very cold water. Hot springing much of the rest of the day.


Eclipse day! Viewed eclipse in the morning from the hot spring, then hiked out, saw the big hole with everyone else. At the trailhead Ken and Christine left, then we camped with Anjuli near Stanley.


Visited Stanley (very crowded), then went to Redfish lake, worked a bit, then walked around the lake and had fun. Saw thousands of fish fry clustered into a small spot on the beach. In the afternoon we went to a hot spring next to the road (boat box spring?) near Stanley, which was nice, then a bunch of people showed up and we left. After a clear morning lots of smoke moved into Stanley so we left, driving most of the way to Idaho City and camping in a kind of crappy spot.


Went to Idaho City and looked around. Anjuli had a phone interview, then we did some more stuff in town, visiting a historic graveyard mainly. Afterwards we drove to Boise, dropped Anjuli off, then drove to McCall and camped next to the lake on Lick Creek road.


After hanging out for a few hours we drove to the rim trail just west of McCall. Lisa biked the first several miles then turned around, while I did the whole lariat loop. Nice riding. We drove to Moscow that night and stayed at a hotel in town.


Lisa went in to the office to work, while I did the headwaters loop at Moscow mountain and worked in the hotel.


We drove up to Coeur D’Alene, driving along the east side of the lake and enjoying the views, then did a short hike at the northeast end of the lake which had some nice views. In the evening we met with Chris for dinner, then drove east of town and found a decent pullout next to a dirt road to camp.


We drove into Montana and did the Hiawatha bike trail. Fun going down, somewhat crowded, then Lisa took the shuttle back up while I biked back, which was good exercise and more engaging than going down. Afterwards we continued driving towards Glacier NP and camped near a river along the way.


We drove through Kalispell and did some errands, then continued to Glacier NP and camped at Avalanche campground. From the campground we hiked up to Avalanche Lake, which was nice.


We drove to Logan Pass mid morning but the parking lot was full and we continued a mile east to Lunch Creek. We went hiking together for a bit, and then I continued on to try to summit a peak, but upon finding many mountain goats and sheep higher up I went back and got Lisa and we went up to look at them together. I summitted Piegan Peak, finding some tricky scree and class 3 scrambling but mostly easy walking; views at the top were OK but visibility was very limited due to smoke. Lisa spent this time communing with the goats and sheep and had lots of fun observing and photographing them. We went to the campground at Apgar near the west end of the park to get some internet.


Rest day at Avalanche campground.


We got to Logan Pass early and hiked the Highline trail, which was a great experience with wonderful views most of the day, not as much smoke as we’d seen previously. Many animals, lots of grouse, some goats, a bear in the distance that Lisa saw, two baby deer and a mother deer that peed right in front of us. Lots of habituation here.


We got to Logan Pass early and hiked together over Hidden Pass to Hidden Lake. From there I continued alone up to the north summit of Bearhat Mountain, which was a really nice route with little scree compared to Piegan and good secure scrambling.


Rest day at Avalanche campground.


We left Avalanche campground, which was being closed due to a nearby fire, then drove to Logan Pass in the morning to try to climb Mt Oberlin. The trail was closed due to NPS bullshit (a water pipe being worked on is under the trail I guess), so we left Glacier entirely and drove to Canmore in Alberta. In the afternoon we went for a bike ride on the Orange loop at the Nordic Center, which I enjoyed a lot but was pretty technical and took us a while to ride. Afterwards we drove around for over an hour looking for a place to boondock, but everything was locked down pretty good. I was getting pretty upset, largely due I think to dealing with the NPS earlier in the day, but eventually we gave up and got a spot at a campground.


Great hike on Ha Ling Peak in clear conditions. Very crowded due to it being Labor Day, but we had a lot of fun and it was great climbing a peak with Lisa. Afterwards we camped at the Bow River campground.


Lisa dropped me off at the nordic center in the morning, then took the van to a shop to have its brakes looked at (a brake maintenance light kept coming on). The shop took a while to do its thing and I was biking from 10 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. I did the long loop at the center first, which had too much doubletrack and kind of sucked. After that I did the green and blue loops, and then the orange loop three times, which was really nice and a great trail for me. I ran out of food and water but managed the situation ok. We camped at the Bow River campground afterwards.


It was really smoky and we continued on to Lake Louise to camp. We did a trail run / hike on the Bow River loop and a had a relaxed evening.


Our anniversary! In the morning we drove to Moraine Lake, arriving a little after 7am but finding the parking lot a zoo already. We still found a parking spot and then hiked to Consolation Lakes, which was very pretty even though it was still pretty smoky. On return we hiked to an overview of Moraine Lake, which was very pretty too, and in the afternoon took the Gondola up at the ski resort in town. We had our anniversary lunch at the top, which was very nice but offered limited views of the area due to the smoke. We camped again at the Lake Louise campground.


We slowly drove north on the Icefield parkway, which was pretty though still smoky. We arrived at Wabasso campground south of Jasper, finding poor visibility due to the smoke and some rain, so hung out the rest of the day.


It was kind of rainy in the morning, but we drove to Jasper and did a nice loop hike from town that visited several lakes. We tried to do laundry in town but it was very hard to find any place to park, so we had lunch and went back to Wabasso campground.


The rain stopped and the smoke cleared out. We got up early and drove south back down the Icefield parkway, seeing all the peaks we’d been missing the previous days, now with a fresh dusting of snow as well. Gorgeous views. We went for a short hike at the toe of Athabasca Glacier but did not go on the glacier due to some forboding signs. Afterwards we did the Parker Ridge hike, finding great views, a cold and biting wind, and light snow. We continued driving and camped at Lake Louise for the night.


We got up early, drove to Lake Louise itself, then hiked up Mount Fairview together. This was a great hike, really nice views of the yellow Larches from the trail and a side peak (Saddle Mountain) that I went up. It was very windy at the saddle and on the hike up to the summit of Fairview, but we persevered and had great views of the plain of many glaciers and the surrounding peaks that we’d been missing on our earlier trip through this area. We camped again at Lake Louise.


We drove to Revelstoke in the morning, had a lunch in town and then I went biking on some trails in the MacPherson area south of town. I found some very challening blue trails and then some really nice flowy stuff on the Flowdown trail. After biking for a couple of hours I returned to the van and we went to a campsite near the Flowdown trail which I’d noticed, and went biking together on an out-and-back on much of the Flowdown trail.


Rest day, we moved camp to a spot on the road to Frisby Ridge but didn’t do much else.


After a morning of working we got a late start and drove to the Frisby Ridge trailhead, then started up the trail. This is a great trail but as we got close to the top of it we both got cold and it was getting late in the afternoon so we turned around. We camped at an awesome spot near the trailhead with expansive views of Revelstoke and the neighboring mountains.


We kept the van at its spot all day, mostly working, though I went out alone and did the Frisby Ridge trail again, going to the top and then on to the lake a little bit afterwards. Great time.


We got an earlier start than our first attempt and went up Frisby Ridge together, visiting the top and then doing the little lariat loop around the summit before returning. Great views of the surrounding peaks, it was really nice to ride around in the alpine areas with Lisa. We went back to Revelstoke for pizza and then camped at the Martha Creek campground north of town.


In the morning I biked up the logging / service road heading to the Martha Creek trailhead, then went down the Martha Creek trail. This had a solid 5000′ of climbing with a great and very technical descent and took a little over four hours total. While I was doing this Lisa drove back towards Revelstoke to hang out, then we met up and drove down towards Washington (rainy weather was coming in and we wanted to move on to drier areas). We drove through part of the Okanagan Valley, finding lots of sprawling dumpy towns, farmland, and finally a nice campground next to a lake.


We drove into Washington, and did some errands on our way to Leavenworth, where we camped near the river a little ways west of town.


We hung out at camp most of the day, doing some light hiking/biking along the river.


We drove to nearby Freund Canyon and did the bike loop there. This is a great trail, buttery throughout, with a well graded ascent and then banked turns and berms almost all the way down. Found a great spot to camp in the van near the trailhead, which we used for most of our stay in Leavenworth.


We drove east of Leavenworth to the Devil’s Gulch trailhead, then I did a loop going up the Devil’s Gulch trail and down the Mission Ridge trail. Devil’s Gulch was nice with generally smooth riding and lots of sidehilling above the creek, but Mission Ridge had lots of loose stuff and some areas that had been damaged by uphill motorcycle traffic, and wasn’t as enjoyable. Afterwards we drove back to Leavenworth.


Rested most of the day, though I did the Freund Canyon loop by myself.


We went out climbing, for the first time in nearly four years, top roping at barney rubble (a roadside crag) and later on a little bit at playground point.


Rest day at Freund Canyon.


We went out climbing together, top roping at roto wall and domestic dome. The former was nice, the latter was kind of tricky as I had to do some scrambling in sandals on rocks covered with pine needles. I understand now why people use approach shoes.


Rested most of the day, though I did the Freund Canyon loop by myself.


In the morning we tried and failed to get an Enchantments backpacking permit, rested the rest of the day.


We had a narrow weather window so instead of trying for a backpacking permit again we went day hiking from the Stuart Lake trailhead, making it to Aasgard Pass and spending an hour or so before returning. The high country was beautiful (we also saw a bear early on which another hiker pointed out) but the hike was a real ass kicker. We did over 4500′ of climbing with half of that going up the steep and sometimes loose and hard to follow route to Aasgard Pass. We hadn’t been doing any serious hiking previously and were very sore as we returned to the van 12 hours after we started.


Rest and recovery day in Leavenworth.


We went climbing together at playground point, top roping some 5.5/5.6 routes. I had fun, but Lisa felt pressured into the climbing (which I wasn’t trying to do, but may have happened anyways).


We continued having conflicts about our different levels of interest in climbing. In the morning I realized that I could go out climbing alone, both on lead and top rope (which I’d done a little bit of in the distant past). We talked about this and how it could address both Lisa’s desire to not be pushed into the sport and my desire to progress further (I’m particularly interested in eventually using this to safely climb class 4 and easy class 5 alpine routes, which is a big stretch for Lisa). Later on we went to a reindeer farm near town (very interesting, they were fun to feed) and I did some ground school practice with Lisa in a bouldering area to practice with the solo climbing system.


In the morning we tried and failed again to get an Enchantments permit, then rested the rest of the day, getting a hotel in Leavenworth to get some relief from the stress and to facilitate the plans for tomorrow.


I left the hotel a little after 3am, drove to the Snow Lakes trailhead (the other end of the Enchantments traverse from the Stuart Lake trailhead) and started hiking around 3:30. After passing Nada and Snow Lakes I reached the start of the enchantments around 9am, then hiked through the lower enchantments. I left the trail around 10:15am, summitted Little Annapurna at 11am, followed the ridge west and summitted Dragontail Peak at 12:30am, then backtracked, made my way to Aasgard Pass and started down at 2pm, arriving at the Stuart Lake trailhead a little after 5pm and meeting Lisa there. This was a superb day hike with beautiful larches and lakes in the enchantments, relatively easy off trail travel to the peaks and first class views. The ridgeline to Dragontail was especially nice with hundreds of small birds around feeding, along with a grouse halfway to its winter plumage. There were several habituated goats in the lower enchantments as well.


Lisa got a backpacking permit for a few nights and we started our way up the trail again. I wasn’t very sore after yesterday and we made good time. We ran into Mark, a friend from Boise we hadn’t seen in years, then we retraced our steps to Colchuck Lake and up to Aasgard pass. Despite the heavy packs we made good time and felt strong (I wasn’t too sore after yesterday either, the hike we did the previous week improved both our conditioning quite a lot). We camped in the upper enchantments not long after the pass.


We had a very cold night with poor sleep, but woke to great views. We took our time in the morning, made our way down to the middle enchantments, then summitted Little Annapurna together, enjoying the wonderful views both to the south and of the entire enchantments basin. We returned to our packs, continuing down the trail, spotted a few mountain goats, enjoyed the lakes and larches, then got off the trail and camped near Crystal Lake.


We slept better after making some sleeping bag adjustments, and not long after waking in the morning five mountain goats visited the camp to eat the gravel we had peed on during the night (yuck). They were fun to watch though and started grazing on a nearby hillside afterwards. It was kind of gray and there was some wind and we started hiking out, with the sun eventually coming out and warming us as we went through the lower enchantments and spent some time seeing the lakes and larches down there. We made our way down past the Snow Lakes and Nada Lake but camped at a site not long afterwards.


It rained during the night and we were glad to be below the snow line. We hiked the rest of the way out in the morning, got our taxi back to the van, then went to the Oktoberfest celebration in Leavenworth, dressing up in Lederhosen and a Dirndl which Lisa had bought the previous week. This was pretty fun, we were hungry after the backpack and the beer was tasy too, live music and we did a bit of dancing. We left in the afternoon and had a relaxing evening camping in the van.


After relaxing in the morning we did a short trail run in town, then Lisa went shopping while I went out solo climbing for the first time, going to playground point and leading / following two pitches which I’d done previously (5.5, 5.6).


In the afternoon we did a bike loop from the town’s ski hill, climbing on a new trail, doing part of the Freund Canyon trail, then returning via the Lost Boys trail.


In the afternoon I spent five hours or so solo climbing at domestic dome. I did a two pitch lead on easy terrain (should have been one pitch, I just didn’t bring enough rope initially), then did a lot of top roping (5.5-5.9) to work out a system for getting the microtraxions to feed automatically.


We repeated the bike loop from the town’s ski hill, then I did some more solo climbing at playground point. Two leads (5.6, 5.8), trying out some ideas I’d had to make the rope feed better through the grigri.


Relaxed most of the day, some hiking in the town park, then an excellent dinner at the Watershed restaurant.


Climbed with Lisa at playground point. I did a solo lead on the 5.6 I’d been on before to show her the system, then we set up some top ropes on 5- and 5.6 and had a great time climbing those together.


Climbed with Lisa at peshastin pinnacles. I tried leading a 5.9 but bailed out very early, then led a 5.5 and top roped with Lisa at sunset slab, really fun. I did a couple more pitches on top rope at the Martian slab but the rock there was pretty crumbly.


Did the bike loop from the town ski hill, then left Leavenworth and drove to Seattle to stay at an Airbnb.


Flying to Lisbon for a work meeting.


Working in Lisbon.


Working in Lisbon.


Flying back to Seattle.


Walking around Seattle and shopping, then went to Bainbridge island to see Brad and have dinner on his new boat.


Drove to Boise, arriving an hour or so after dark and moving into the vacant unit at the duplex. It rained all day, and snowed around the passes.

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