Hyas Lake

WTA Trip Report

Great backpacking trip to Hyas Lake for a long weekend. First time to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area and could not have asked for a better trip. Got to the trailhead at 3pm on a Friday, left at around 1pm on Sunday.

Road to trailhead is long and potholed, but we made it just fine in an Outback. Creek crossing (Scatter Creek?) looked sketchier than it was, probably four inches deep in the middle.

At the trailhead, the parking lot was full but we found a spot without difficulty. Bugs were not bad at the trailhead. At the permit box there was a not about a juvenile black bear from a few days before, but we didn't see any sign of bear our whole trip.

Up the trail a ways, the mosquitoes started up. They weren't nearly as heavy as I expected, and picardin worked well. We escaped with a dozen or so bites each for the weekend.

We were a couple weeks too early for berries – August looks like it'll be an incredible berry season though. The bushes are thick with blossoms and buds.

There were several creek crossings on the trail, but none of them were  very deep. Past Hyas Lake heading towards Deception Pass they were  slightly larger but still manageable without wading.

Once at the lake, campsites were large and plentiful. A couple were already occupied, and we walked to Little Hyas Lake to scope out all the options. We picked a site in the center of Hyas Lake, and had a whole stretch of beach to ourselves. There were tons of hikers, trailrunners, and campers heading deeper into the wilderness, but the lake was still private and quiet, incredibly relaxing.

Fishing was superb, and I caught two good-sized Brook trout. Very tasty, and full of bug exoskeletons – happy fish make good eating.

Overall, an excellent trip for newbies, a great place to relax, good for testing gear and outsmarting trout.

Sawtooth Ridge

WTA Trip Report

Touchet Corral Trailhead

Beautiful day for a snowshoe trip. I parked at the Touchet Corral trailhead, just north of Bluewood Ski Area. North Fork Touchet River Road was iced but plowed and my AWD was able to make it to the parking area just fine.

Halfway up!
Absolute magic

I started snowshoeing up the Touchet Corral Trail around 11am. Hiking up was a snap. About four inches of fresh powder had been cut by snow machines earlier that day, so the trail was easy to follow without getting bogged down. There were some real steep spots, and I slowed down a bit around the halfway point, but I made it to the junction in about two hours. About three miles up, the trail flattened out leading to Burnt Flat Corral junction. I headed west along USFS 46 for about three hundred yards and then cut new trail south towards Sawtooth Ridge.

I only made it about a half-mile down the ridge before stopping for lunch. The snowpack was deeper than my waist. Cutting trail in the foot-deep powder took a lot longer than I anticipated, so I ended up turning back before I got a real view. Next time, I'll hitch a ride on a snow machine up the Touchet Corral Trail to save some time.

Headed off-trail

I tested out my new MSR Pocket Rocket over lunch. Best stove I have ever used – the wind was howling, didn't even skip a beat. My tiny titanium mug just barely fit on the stove, but made my whole cook setup compact and light. Made tea and oatmeal, and ate sardines and chocolate. Weird combo, but definitely gave me a boost for plowing back to the trail.

Top of Sawtooth Ridge
Looking north from Burnt Flat Corral junction

I really enjoyed cutting new trail in thick powder, just wish I had a little more time to get further down the ridge. I can only imagine the view south towards the Wenaha river.

I need to research how to adjust the bindings on my snowshoes too – the heels of my boots kept slipping inwards, making me walk really pigeon-toed. I didn't trip, but it was a close thing on some steep descents.            

Wallula Gap

WTA Trip Report

Beautiful day to wander the Wallula trails. The trails are not marked in the most obvious manner, but the main trails are in great condition and looked recently maintained.

I was able to traverse from this trailhead to Two Sisters, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you haven’t done much scrambling. Also, it’s super easy to end up on private land — do some digging on your favorite public land map before attempting to traverse across the park.

Lots of small chutes that were handy for getting up and down off the buttes
Retrospective trespassing sign

Also, you’ll be bushwhacking thru goat heads. Have fun!!Saw a few people near Two Sisters, but otherwise had  the whole place to myself. I didn’t see any snakes, but there were lots of fire ants. I got one single sting, which was odd. Usually they hunt in packs.

Two Sisters from the north
Two sisters from the west


My brother, my dad, and I traveled to Burundi to install a solar system at a rural teaching hospital. The whole experience was technicolor, and I was challenged to my core.

As an "umuzungu", everything I thought I understood about the inequities of life was given a visceral dimension and a nagging complexity. My own presence bothered me, for reasons I can't describe well.

The culture of Burundi is vast and colorful and intricate. It felt like I could live there forever and still not understand much. I can't wait to go back to learn more.

Landing in Bujumbura
Bike couriers hitching a slow lift into the mountains
Soccer in the plaza

St Helens

WTA Trip Report

The Lost Boys set out to climb St Helens this April. We all grew up in the same small town, hadn't hung out in years, and planned our first mountain all winter via group text.

We got one of the last sets of permits before the year filled up, and climbed the first day of the season.

Andrew and I drove from Richland to a campsite near St Helens, arriving around 1am. We nearly got blocked by a closed road that wasn't mentioned on any status sites, but thankfully it was open and we crashed for a few hours.

I hear this is a bunny hill for mountain climbers.

The parking lot at the trailhead was full of tents, teardrop campers, Mercedes, and skiers. Everyone was making coffee, waiting for the pit toilet, or getting gear together. A few folks came down off the mountain, having left early like "real" mountaineers.

Started late, 7am.

We decided after a lot of deliberation to leave our snowshoes behind. They were all old and heavy, and after talking to folks coming off the summit, the new snow at the top wasn't thick.

Motley crew of old friends and younger brothers.

The whole experience was addicting, painful, and wondrous.

Lots of skiers and snowboarders. Prolly 1M worth of gear on the summit. $700 pants don't make your knees hurt less though.
Andrew contemplating great heights.

Next, Adams. Then Shasta. Then Hood, then...