Olympic National Park - Cat Basin/High Divide Trail/Seven Lakes Basin by Ray Phung

As the third edition of our 4th of July trips to the backcountry, I was able to get a last minute permit to Olympic National Park to do the High Divide trail.  I first learned about this trail when I met a father-son team hiking the Hoh River Trail.  They were on their way up to Hoh Lake and to do the High Divide Trail.  This trail straddles the ridge between the Seven Lakes Basin and high above the Hoh River Valley.  It's one of the limited quota trails in Olympic National Park, where backcountry permits are hard to come by.  I sent in a permit request to the ranger station a week prior to the 4th, and miraculously was able to get one.  Kevin and Tia, my usual adventure partners from Seattle, agreed to meet me and spend the 4th in the backcountry. 

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Goat Rocks Wilderness by Ray Phung

Last year, a group of us went out to the Enchantments to get away from all the crowds, heat, and fireworks.  We wanted to continue celebrating the holiday with the tradition of adventure.  Goat Rocks Wilderness has been on my to-do list for quite sometime, as I continually hear about it's beauty and grandeur.  Add lack of permit requirements and it's equi-distance between Portland and Seattle made it an irresistible destination.  My good friend Tia picked out the route: a shuttled loop starting at the Lily Basin trailhead, hiking through Lily Basin, down to Snowgrass Flats, on the Knife Blade section of the Pacific Crest Trail, and back out to the Packwood Trailhead.  After work on Thursday, Kevin and Tia met me in the town of Packwood and we headed out to the trailhead.  

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Hoh River Trail to Blue Glacier, Olympic National Park by Ray Phung

“I think we’ll do 15 miles the first day,” I announced looking up from the wilderness map.  “But the first 13 miles are REALLY flat,” I continue in hopes of quelling the looks of skepticism that Hanna gives me from the adjacent couch, “Don’t let the mileage scare you:  we’re reasonably fit people, we’ll be fine.”  I think I also said this to reassure myself that the trail I picked would be doable in a three day weekend.  I will admit – 15 miles in a day seemed like a lot.  But with the time constraint, I couldn’t figure out how else to spread out the mileage.   Surprisingly Hanna doesn’t seem phased by the proposed expedition. “It’ll be fun!” I exclaim.  All summer, we’ve been talking about doing a backpacking trip.  I hadn’t been out in the backcountry since the Enchantments and was itching for some adventure time before winter sets in.  And Hanna, just moving to the Northwest, was ready to explore her new home.  

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Table Mountain - Wind and Fog by Ray Phung

This year for MLK day, I grabbed Adam and headed out to the Columbia River Gorge for another winter-time adventure.  Miraculously we both had the day off.  We set out to do Table Mountain on the Washington side of river.  Table Mountain is one of the higher points in the Gorge, with a sheer triangular face and and 360 degree view from the summit.  

The Table Mountain is noted for it's long, difficult hike to the summit from the Bonneville Trailhead.  Adam and I decided to do the hike from Aldrich Butte Trailhead.  This newer trailhead shortens the hike to 8 miles with 3350 feet of elevation gain.  It starts among the power lines and largely follows old, abandoned sections of service access roads.  The Aldrich Butte was a location for a WWII defense site.  After ascending a portion of Aldrich Butte, the trail splits off to follow the Cedar Creek drainage, and parallels and eventually joins the Pacific Crest Trail. 

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Rock of Ages Loop Hike by Ray Phung

Right before the new year, my buddy Temo and I drove out to the Columbia River Gorge to do the Rock of Ages Loop.  This trail is 10 miles long, while gaining around 3000 ft of elevation.  Over the last hiking season, I have been trying to knock out all the steep, scrambling hikes in the Gorge.  This trail in particular sees a lot of traffic by those training for the alpine treks up the Cascades.  

This loop starts at the Horsetail Falls trailhead, and begins by climbing up to Ponytail Falls.  

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