Review: 5 Reasons to Climb Mt. Rose (Maybe Just Once)

Mt. Rose in the Mt. Skokomish Wilderness presents a challenge for even the most seasoned hikers. Much of the only trail to its summit, Mt. Rose Trail #814, ascends rather steeply for most of the way. Within a mile of the summit, hikers take a loop path; here they can choose the steeper Summit Route to the left or the longer and slightly more gradual Ridge Route on the right. Along the summit ridge, the trail offers fantastic southern views of Lake Cushman and the Olympic NF peaks on the lake’s southern border. Looking northward on the trail presents glimpses of the popular Mt. Ellinor, as well as Mt. Washington, Mt. Pershing, and other major peaks in the Skokomish Wilderness. For all its difficulty and limited views though, Mt. Rose does beckon some and present opportunities for other hikers.

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View from the top

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Scenic Washington Coast-Area Hikes for M-Day (or Any Day)

Happy Mother’s Day! Take time to enjoy the day and get outside (if that’s what mom wishes, of course). Douglas Scott of GraysHarbor Talk offers some suggestions for great Mom’s Day hikes in Western Washington’s Grays Harbor area. I’ve explored a couple of the areas Scott mentions and each one delivers. The Maple Glade Trail and connector trails offer a beautiful stroll through moss-draped old-growth trees. Kalaloch and Ruby beaches are always fun to explore – and they are some of the few places in Olympic National Park where dogs can visit (on-leash). Not to leave out Oregon residents, I found this article on some of the top 20 hikes in the Beaver State. Either way, you can’t throw a rock in the Pacific Northwest without it landing on a stunning trail or hiking area. Take advantage of it!

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Kestner-Higley Homestead, Kestner Homestead Trail, Quinault Rain Forest Ranger State, Olympic NP

Review: Tolmie State Park

Tolmie State Park in Olympia lets you hike, swim, and sunbath on the beach all in the same day. Tolmie encompasses some 1,800 feet of sand beach and coastline and a couple miles of inland hiking on trails that wind through old-growth forests. The main hiking trail is short at Tolmie (only a few miles long), but the scenery is pleasant and worth a trip. Also, the state park offers some great amenities, including beach access, picnicking areas and shelters, and boat moorage. The trails are short enough that you can easily bring the family to Tolmie for an afternoon or for a day at the beach and/or a hike.

Looking out towards the beach.

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This Bud’s For You [Insert Favorite National Park Name Here]

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According to an article by Jason Blevins of The Denver Post, the National Park Service (NPS) has waived its restrictions on partnering with alcohol makers to raise money and awareness for the “Find Your Park” campaign. The NPS established a two-year, $2.5 million deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev that will allow the beer manufacturer to use NPS logos and park images (specifically the Statue of Liberty) on bottle wrappers and caps and to organize “Bud-branded events such as summer concerts inside yet-to-be-named park properties”. The NPS established a directive in 1998 that prohibited it from receiving donations with questionable product and service providers, such as beer and tobacco manufacturers.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with the NPS earning some advertising dollars from beer makers. I’d have a problem with the agency partnering with a tobacco business but not so much with a beer company. The NPS needs money badly to keep open and maintain national properties – this gives it some of the capital to do so. I just wish the NPS was partnering with a better beer maker, like Sierra Nevada or another, similarly outdoorsy brand. It seems to me that the only reason Budweiser wants to partner with NPS is to legally use the image of the Statue of Liberty on its beer cans. That seems far less promotional for our beautiful national parks and far more patronizing towards diehard nationalists.

Review: Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve

Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve in Olympia offers a couple miles of hiking, but its real attraction is its strange bubble-like hills. A natural and scientific curiosity, Mima Mounds’ hill-studded grasslands seems out of place surrounded by evergreen forests and the Capitol SF peaks in the background. Several theories exist as to why the small grass-covered mounds exist. These theories range from the extraordinary, such as the one that gophers made them, to the tame, like the most accepted belief that they were created by glacier deposits. An educational kiosk (and viewing platform) at the beginning of the trails describes these various theories. This Wikipedia page describes some of the theories in greater detail.

Situated adjacent to Capitol State Forest, Mima Mounds offers a great educational experience and family outing. I rank this hiking area high on the family friendly list as it features several picnic areas and easy, flat walking paths. I also think that the area serves families well because of its amenities. In additional to lots of educational signage, the site includes two raised observation platforms (one of them handicapped accessible) that can give you a pretty good vantage point looking westward over the grasslands. If you do visit, bring your sunscreen though – there’s no shade at all on the trails.

Mima Mounds grasslands.

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From the Trail: Putvin Trail (almost) to Lake of the Angels

 

It was a rough hike in the Olympics today. The hike up the Putvin Trail towards the Lake of the Angels started off great with beautiful weather and clear skies. However, right before climbing up the headwall, it started to snow. We got within a half mile of the Lake of the Angels before we were forced to turn back as the snow and sleet came down heavier. Made it to the aptly named Pond of the False Prophet before we lost the trail in the snow. It was pretty among the alpine streams and meadows near the top (I think it’s called the Valley of Heaven). But, as the pond’s name suggests, it doesn’t beat the real thing, the alpine lake we hiked so far to (almost) reach. Oh well, this just gives us an excuse to return this summer! The photo collage shows the Pond of the False Prophet and some of the Skokomish Wilderness peaks you can see from the Putvin Trail. Stayed tuned next week for my review of the Putvin Trail.

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