When I first started hiking in the Cascades, I couldn’t fathom why some people hike the same trails over and over again. Our state is full of beautiful lakes and exciting peaks, why limit yourself?
Fast-forward a couple of years into my hiking career and here I am, hiking Noble Knob, Panorama Point and Skyline Ridge for the 134th time…and loving it. I’ve come to value the tradition of returning to my old favorites. It might be due to realizing that I will never be an adventurous peakbagger, or maybe the comfortable familiarity of my happy places just makes me feel, well, happy. (Most likely, I’m just so lazy that I prefer not having to do any research before hitting the trail.)
Anyhoo, without further ado, here are my favorite hikes of 2011 – lots of repeats, but all of them wonderful.
I remember the first half of the year as a blur of rain and repetitive Tiger Mountain jaunts, but once in a while the sun decided to grace us with her presence. Tom’s annual celebration of aging at Kendall Peak Lakes was a success as always, and towards the end of January he was kind enough to humor us common folk with a non-epic snowshoe to Lake Valhalla.
More rain, more Tiger Mountain, even more rain, and then April brought a fantabulous ski/snowshoe to McClure Rock that made me forgive Washington (for the time being). In June we once again spent my birthday weekend on Iron Peak. Booze and cupcakes for all (except for Wellie, who was stuck in the cone of shame [and who probably shouldn’t have booze or cupcakes anyway])!
Look, a Tiger Mountain hike made it onto the favorites list! Poo Poo Point was the perfect place to celebrate the summer solstice. The following weekend we returned to the Teanaway to summit Bean Peak and thought summer had arrived for sure.
In July we were pleasantly surprised by the charming Goat Lake trail and took our first alpine lake swim of the season – Wellie too! The most unique sunset of the year happened below us on a night hike of good old Bandera Mountain.
Late July and early August brought so much sadness, and the hikes we went on helped keep me going during that period. The day after the attacks in Oslo, we carried the Norwegian flag to the Thorp Mountain Lookout. After returning from Norway in August, we said our final goodbyes to JK’s dad on Noble Knob.
We kept the hiking therapy going on a relaxing swimming trip to Lake Valhalla and a much-needed night under the stars on Skyline Divide – a new trail for us but one we’re definitely adding to our repeat list.
My favorite hike of the year was my solo backpacking trip on part of the Wonderland Trail in September – it was a great confidence-builder, and I had time for lots of soul-searching about what I hope to achieve and experience in my life. Later that month, Dani and Tom took us on one of their repeat favorites, Hidden Lake Lookout.
In spite of (because of?) all my soul-searching, Josie and Karen had to come dig me out of my little depression hole with the promise of beer and rafting at Snow Lake. Still not feeling quite human, I decided not to join them on the Grand Enchantments Larch Expedition, but I got my own golden tree fix (along with the rest of the Washington hiking population) at Ingalls Lake in October.
In November JK and I took our Norwegian guests to Panorama Point to show off our magic volcano before finishing our hiking year off quite nicely in December with a Christmas cross-country ski trip to Chinook Pass.
Out of state favorites:
Aah, our trip with friends to Hawai’i in February could not have come at a better time. We left Seattle in a snowstorm and spent 12 glorious days on Maui, snorkeling with turtles and drinking mai tais. We had time for some hiking as well, most notably the Sliding Sands Trail on Haleakala and the mystical bamboo forest on the Pipiwai Trail. How did I never blog about this??
In May we flew back to Norway to attend my best friend’s wedding. We added some adventure to the trip by traveling up north to Lofoten to hike and camp. The weather was absolute shite and I was pretty miserable with a sinus infection, but I still have fond memories of sleeping in a tent on Bunes Beach in the howling rain.
Our September trip to Santa Barbara brought more sunshine, and even though it can barely be called a hike, I loved visiting Anacapa Island in Channel Islands National Park. I notice I haven’t blogged about these trips either, because I suck.
After a couple of years away from red rock canyon country, in October Josie and I returned to the southwest for Karen’s epic surprise birthday trip. It’s hard to pick my favorites from this vacation, but I’ll go for the freezing hike through the Zion Narrows and the otherworldly sightseeing in White Pocket. Have I blogged about either of these? No, of course not. I’ll post 17 trip reports of rainy runs in the Issaquah Alps, but nary a word about the most beautiful places I have ever seen. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!
JK’s non-Ingunn favorites:
I know, that’s preposterous, right? While I would like to think that any trip without me would contain only hardship and misery for JK, he claims to have enjoyed his disgustingly sunny ski tour in the Baker backcountry and his solo ascent of Reinebringen in Lofoten. Sure, whatever you say, JK.
There you have it, another year of adventures big and small, old and new. Time to delve into 2012!