Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Driving Across the Continent in December (~100-6329')

After all that fuss over the mold in my car, I knew I couldn't make it through another five months of Redmond rain. It was time to head home to the East Coast, where I could cuss my way through horrible traffic underneath blue skies again.

So I packed my stuff and plotted my eastward route. This being December, I figured I'd stick to the interstates--no sense detouring to parks when everything's closed for the season--and take I-90 to I-25 to I-80 to I-29 to I-70 to I-64 to I-81 to I-66 to home. Quite the simple trip, compared to how I'd gotten there.

And then I called my parents to tell them my plans. "Are you going to need tire chains for that?" my dad asked. "And what about the weather?" my mom added. "Is it safe to drive? What if you get caught in a snowstorm?"

Snow? Tire chains? I hadn't even thought of those. Nothing had frozen down in Redmond... but the Cascades were a completely different story. I looked into it and learned that Snoqualmie Pass (I-90's route through the range) had already received dozens of feet of snow that fall. East of there, I'd need to cross three major passes through the Rockies: Lookout Pass on the Montana-Idaho border, Homestake Pass over the Continental Divide, and Bozeman Pass east of Bozeman, MT. And, as I'd learned on my westward trip, the Great Plains were prone to blizzards and ice storms as far south as Kansas. Snow and sub-freezing temperatures were a certainty; the only question was how much I'd get... and whether my little front-wheel-drive sedan could make it through.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rattlesnake Ledge, WA (~2040')

My friend and I did eventually make it out to Rattlesnake Ledge, and it was exactly what you'd expect of the North Cascades in late autumn: foggy, wet, and covered in moss.

The trail began in Rattlesnake Lake State Park, 45 minutes southwest of Redmond and just off I-90. There was no obvious hiker parking, so we followed the loop road through the park and wound up in a boat trailer spot. It was cool, though; the place was practically deserted, despite it being a Saturday.

From there we moseyed down to the lakeshore to get our bearings:

and got our first look at the Ledge.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Adventures in Moisture Management, or How Not to Store Your Gear

So the friend I stayed with up in Redmond has a nifty little place by the shores of Lake Sammamish:

It's in a pretty nice neighborhood (if a bit crowded for my tastes), and there's a huge park a mile or so up the road with just about everything one could ask for: playgrounds, sports fields, historic buildings, a birdwatching trail, a leash-free area for dogs (they briefly coincide, which leads to some interesting interactions), a velodrome, and even a climbing wall:

Which I... erm... can't quite get up in my sneakers. Yeah. That's it. Totally the shoes' fault.

All in all, the place was quite lovely for my first month and a half there:

But as September drew to a close, the days grew overcast. To the east, the Cascade Range hid itself in a heavy haze. Clouds rolled in from the Pacific, clustering above us like schoolchildren after a summer apart.

And then, at the stroke of midnight on October 1, the rain began.