Sunday, June 23, 2013

Birthday Backpacking/ Supermoon!

Full Moon rising over our back-country campsite
27 years ago, I was born under a full summer solstice moon. It's been a non-stop adventure ever since! What better way to welcome my 27th year with another adventure with friends? 

The goal was a birthday present to myself... to see a group of close friends in the Seattle Deaf community enjoy what I love the most: the great outdoors. We embarked on a "beginner-friendly" backpacking trip to Cougar Lakes near Mt. Rainier since for some of them, this would be their first time! So exciting!!

The trail began with innocent intentions of meandering through the forest. The innocence abruptly stopped at a river swollen with snow melt, the trail teasing us on the other side. After much debate and scrambling around for options, we discarded the "beginner-friendly backpacking" title and forded the river! 

Several miles later, we came across another creek. Too lazy to put our hiking shoes back on with the hopes a campsite would be just around the bend, a few of us looked down and realized we were backpacking on the snow... in flip-flops.

We did find a campsite for our group, but was a bit dismayed at the dismal dark location. I ran ahead and found an open meadow full of light... this was definitely a much more "Deaf-Friendly" campsite!! 

Eventually the light faded. As we were all about to retreat to our sleeping bags for the night, we noticed a glimmer of light beyond the ridge. It was a full supermoon! 
Rising Moon
Moon reflecting in a pool of snow melt
After a very cold night, the warm sunshine was a very welcome sight. Due to a limping dog, we decided instead of hiking the full loop, we would leave our tents as a base camp, hike up to the ridge, and spend the night back at base camp. Hiking onwards, the trail soon disappeared under a forest still covered in snow. Not letting anything stop us, the adventure continued via navigation to the ridge by map and compass through a summer solstice winter wonderland. Definitely not "beginner-friendly". 

Thank goodness for the combined efforts of determination, high spirits, and navigation experience and trust. Pushing onwards paid off with amazing views!

After a quick lunch, curiosity got the better of us with the desire to continue to scramble to the crest. Supposedly there were views of Mt. Rainier up there! The "beginner" trip was now turning into a lesson of basic mountaineering of going up the snow slopes! 
Determination was worth it! The view from the crest was amazing. For lack of a better descriptive word, pictures tell all. 

On the way down, the so-called "beginners" discovered the joy of glissading, the mountaineering style of sliding down a mountain-slope on your butt :-)

Navigating our way back to the campsite, we realized we had a lot of sunlight left in the day so we decided to pack up camp and head back to the trailhead. The dog didn't agree with our decision and tried to prevent me from packing up my tent. 

Once again, we found ourselves back at the river. Once again (some of us) secured our flip-flops with cord and forded back across. 

Back at the car, we drove to Bumping Lakes campground where we crowded around the picnic table telling stories late into the night of our recent adventures. 
Upper Bumping Lakes Campground
Moon rise

Huge thank you to my friends who made my birthday one of the best yet! I love your excitement to share the trail with me, your adventurous spirits, your can-do attitudes, and the gift of friendship. Thank you!!!

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