Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hike of the Week : Wolf Creek Trail

I had noticed this trail on -- eight miles up, eight miles down, from the Whiskey Bend Trailhead up to Hurricane Ridge. We had even seen it when we went on a hike a few weeks before from the same trailhead.

It had seemed a bit ambitious earlier, but given that we were meant to be out hiking for 4.5 hours, it seemed time to attempt it -- despite not knowing where the snow would turn us back, if at all. (Spoiler alert: we turned back due to snow.)

After camping at Dungeness Recreation Area we headed out early and got to the trailhead. May I just point out that Woody does a great job on dirt roads? Here, late in his life, he's really coming into his own. This is, after all, what he was built for!

We headed up from the trailhead, and immediately started climbing. Sometimes I think trail designers like to put a climb in at the beginning as a way of "thinning the herd". Oddly enough, a lot of the early trail was grassy -- indicating that not many people go this way.

Everything was lush and green, and the trail, while narrow, was level. There was also very little mud -- only in one or two brief stretches did things get a bit marshy for a few feet.

But for the most part it was a "poster child" trail. We just went up and up.

We kept hearing a funny sound -- a deep, booming, "HO-ho-ho-HO-HOH". Still not sure what it was, but perhaps a sooty grouse?  ("A large, chicken-like bird" and "one of North America's largest grouse"). We never spotted one, but we heard them all day on the trail.

We also came across a tiny, nearly perfect blue eggshell. It had been pecked open and was empty, but was perfect in every other way. I said it must be a robin's egg, based on the color, and Wil looked at me like I was insane. Apparently "robin's egg blue" isn't a known color in the UK... because their robins are different.

We've had many lively discussions with Tony and Sue about the difference between "their" robins and "our" robins. And, apparently, the two birds aren't very closely related. Here's the European robin:

And here's the American robin:

Amusingly, in Mary Poppins, the robin "feathering his nest" is actually an American robin... described by Wikipedia as "a rare vagrant" in the U.K.

Also amusing -- these are European robin's eggs.

By Thomas Love - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
 And American robin's eggs:

Which explains why Wil was mystified by my "robin's egg blue" comment!

Eventually we reached a gap in the trees and saw this:


We kept heading up, glimpsing snow -- but soon, there was lots of snow.

Enough snow covering the trail that we decided to turn around.

By the time we got to the bottom, we had been hiking for over 5 hours -- a good day.

Afterward, we drove up the road to Hurricane Ridge. I suppose we should have known the trail would be snowy at the top, given how much snow they get at Hurricane Ridge!

The road was dry, as was the parking lot... but there was still a ton of snow. As you can see, it was a glorious day, with amazing views.

Then back to the campground, where we relaxed and enjoyed another night by the campfire. A perfect day!

Wolf Creek Trail

9.9 miles
2592 feet elevation

Thursday, May 25, 2017

SoCal weekend 2017

A couple of weeks ago we went down to southern California for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. But, of course, that's not all we did.

We went for a hike in Weir Canyon on Saturday, which was glorious.

We "recovered" with our first serving of "Animal Style" fries from In-n-Out Burger. (My one-word review? "Meh." Though to be fair, the issue was that the fries themselves were cold.)

In the early evening we wandered over to the rejuvenated Anaheim Gardenwalk -- much more lively than we remembered.

We wandered into the very cool Artists Republic Gallery and spent a long time admiring the work -- including some pieces by our friend Valency! We got to chatting with the owner, and she told us about the Anaheim Art Crawl Experience -- an event that happens four times a year, taking over the Center Street Promenade in "downtown" Anaheim... the street that runs past Muzeo, where we run during the half marathon.

So we took an Uber there -- since we weren't *quite* sure how near or far it was. (It was quite near, actually...). Our first stop was in the RARE shop, a highly curated Goodwill with lots of really great stuff in it. I bought a scarf for $3, no tax.

Then a little farther down the street and we arrived at the Art Crawl Experience.

Yep, this month had a Star Wars theme, so members of the 501st Legion were there, along with little kids running around in costumes. Cute. We walked around admiring some of the vendor booths and galleries. It's an area that is clearly on the rise, which is nice to see.

Hulk get mad when zip-tied in box
We chatted with one artist, who told us about the Packing House -- a former fruit packing warehouse converted into a food hall. Since we hadn't made any plans to eat other than our usual "Alerto's that isn't called Alerto's anymore" fallback, we headed over there.

This giant succulent planter is amazing, and makes me want to plant a living wall. Hey, if it can survive in SoCal, couldn't it survive here?

Then over to the Packing House, which was unexpectedly beautiful. It seemed pretty mellow and quiet on the outside...

But inside it was NUTS. Of course, it was a gorgeous Saturday night at about 7:15. The sprawling warehouse had been carved into dozens of smaller spaces, with restaurants and food stalls and bars. It was lively and noisy and smelled amazing.

There were long lines for almost everything, all snaking around the inside.

We grabbed some dinner and, failing to find anywhere inside to perch, went outside and sat on a bench. I'd love to go back on a quieter day and do some more exploring there!

On the way back to the hotel we even stopped in at a very handsome microbrewery: Unsung Brewing Company. We admired their stylish tasting room, chock full of superhero toys, and tasted two of their beers before walking back to the hotel.

We always had this feeling that Anaheim was really "empty" -- other than the businesses that support the tourist economy, it didn't feel like there was much for the locals. So it's great to see that the Packing District is thriving -- and I'm sure we'll go back next time we are in SoCal.

Sunday morning we ran ... well, ran and walked ... the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, which we followed with a swing through the park, walking on to both Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, and riding Hyperspace Mountain. (oooOOOOOoooooh) before going back to the hotel for showers, a chilly swim, and naps. We love naps.

We went back to the parks in the afternoon, but they were really crowded and hot... so we took a break to go see Guardians of the Galaxy 2. It seems absurd to go see a movie when we have also paid to be in the parks, but this is the second year we've taken a movie break and it turns out to be a great thing. And I got to eat my bodyweight in popcorn, which is always a treat.

We wandered over to California Adventure, riding Luigi's Rollicking Roadsters. I don't know why I love this ride so much, but I do. I even enjoy watching others ride it while we're in the queue.

Later, in a less-crowded Disneyland, we stumbled across a great view of the beginning of the Main Street Electrical Parade, and, of course, watched it all. Just writing this puts the funny parade music in my head...

This is, without a doubt, the creepiest float in the parade...

And Pete's Dragon is the loveliest. I'm glad they didn't alter it to match the recent movie. (Which I also loved.)

We thought the next two days would be quiet in the parks, but no... I did wonder if Monday had turned into "toddler day" as it felt like most of the children were in strollers. Still, we managed to catch "Frozen: The Musical" at the Hyperion and it was really entertaining. There was even an effect that was so good it made me gasp. Seriously. I would wholeheartedly go see it again.

I especially loved how they handled Sven and Olaf -- I wish I had better photos of Sven, especially, and how his back legs moved. Really impressive.

We also rode Soarin' Around the World twice. The first time our seats weren't great, and we were distracted by the animated animals -- a polar bear, an orca, and a family of elephants. It was only on our second flight, while watching the pre-show video, that we noticed the tour includes Kilimanjaro. Neither of us had spotted it the first time -- we were just watching the elephants! But it was pretty cool to "Soar" over the mountain we'll be climbing in a few short months.

One morning we rode Autopia, which has new cars. Sadly, they're still stinky lawnmower engines. And somehow Wil didn't get to bump me more than once because I was SO FAST.

Other amusements.... we rode Splash Mountain late one night, getting soaked (of course) while Wil perfected his TERRORFACE:

And, of course, did a few rounds of Star Tours.

In dining news, we somehow managed to only eat at "Alerto's" TWICE. IN FOUR DAYS. So weird. Of course we had a cheese dog from the Corn Dog Castle, but they're never as good as our first molten one. Health and Safety gone mad, that is.

Though we didn't bother trying the much-discussed pineapple cotton candy, and we couldn't bring ourselves to pay $9 for a pair of "light saber churros", we did go to the Red Rose Taverne, which everyone was buzzy about:

Yes, we tried The Grey Stuff. And, yes, it was delicious. #lumieredon'tlie

One afternoon we also tried the fast-frozen ice cream at Creamistry across the street. The preparation was the best part -- I wasn't super impressed with the results.

This was a strange little trip -- we didn't manage to see Gretchen (next time! I promise!), and we wondered whether we really wanted to keep our Legacy status. I think we've got one more year in us to see if the magic comes back a bit.

Where has the magic gone? And where are our heads???