776 - Cedar River Trail

Cedar River Trail at Green to Cedar River Trail ConfluenceAnother County maintained trail. Yeah, it’s not 100% wilderness, but I think it’s important to show people that there are hikes that are able to be done for newcomers to hiking that they can easily bike, walk, or bus to. That way they can see what hiking can afford them in an urban area and imagine when multiplied may times over what that means once they catch a ride or drive to the real wilderness.

Cedar RiverThis trail is 17.3 miles in total length from Lake Washington south through Renton and Maple Valley and to Landsburg Park. From this confluence with the Green to Cedar River Trail north through Renton to Lake Washington is 12.3 miles. There are almost limitless points of access from this trail to the Cedar River.

IMG_9814It stays even with Rt 169 for most of the way, although there are distinct areas where it drops below and disappears from sight of the road. Even at this bridge, the road is still fairly well out of sight.

Levee RepairsIf you plan on walking the whole thing, or even from Renton to Maple Valley, take note that levee repairs north of Cedar Grove Road will close the trail for about a month. it won’t close the whole trail, but it will dissect it for the repair period.

Trip DataI didn’t use Trailguru because I had planned on going very far and was worried the battery on my iPhone would die, so I used my Nike+ system instead (besides, it’s not like the elevation chart would show a whole lot of difference here… :) )

Trip total trail miles: 4.7
Hike-A-Thon total: 10.45

745 - Green To Cedar River Trail

Green to Cedar Rivers TrailThis trail is probably my favorite. Not because it is well groomed, or because it is wide, safe, and offers lots of friendly passers by. Nope, because it 1) is the closest to my house (I can even walk to it); and 2) it offers access to many facilities: Lake Wilderness and it’s lodge, the Lake Wilderness Arboretum, the Maple Valley Community Center, Lake Wilderness Elementary, and even close access to QFC, BOFA, and some small restaurants.

Kent Kangley Entrance NW of Four CornersA quick walk down SE 272nd (Kent Kangley) from 216th St SE to the car wash just west of Four Corners on the north side of the Road gets access to this trail. It does go South from here as well, but I’ve never had the chance to walk that part; however, looking at maps, it continues all the way down to Black Diamond at least, although part of the way it apparently shares space with some single track trails around Lake Sawyer.

Map of areaThis trail is soft surface and as above goes through Maple Valley and past a lot of the community facilities. There are side trails to these facilities; as well as some single track for bikes, and to many many houses that border the trail. It connects with the Cedar River Trail, allowing easy access back and forth to Rt. 169 as well. Several times I’ve taken the 143 bus back and gotten off on 169 and walked home via this trail. It provides a nice respite from the trudgerous commute. The tree canopies and soft trail just bleed one back to rural-ness really quickly.

Some pictures from along the way:

Lake Wilderness from the trail
Lake Wilderness Lodge
Down the trail towards the east

Trip Data
I didn’t use Trailguru because I had planned on going very far and was worried the battery on my iPhone would die, so I used my Nike+ system instead (besides, it’s not like the elevation chart would show a whole lot of difference here… :) )

Trip total uncountable miles to trail head: 1.26
Trip total trail miles: 2.78
Hike-A-Thon total: 5.75

733 - Search and Rescue Works

Matt, Another Hike-A-Thon participant posts his story about how his efforts called in SAR and saved a man’s life while out on a Hike-A-Thon hike. It’s things like this that have always had me interested in joining SAR. I’m glad I’m finally giving it a try, even if it’s over a decade from when I got the first glimmer.

Awesome job Matt, I’m so glad to have pointed here by Jackie. My participation in this event is even more cemented in my mind than it was when I started.

726 - Franklin Falls Trail

Kelsey and mom at hike start pointAileen found this hike listed in Joan Burton’s book Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades. It was an amazing hike, and offered the kids a few challenges which they gobbled up.

We started the day at the Denny Creek Campground, and messed up a bit. Apparently, just about 200 yards from the campground is the Denny Creek Trailhead. The official starting point for this hike. We drove out to the road to follow the directions in the book and they took us past it and up the hill (the book says left onto the paved road after the campground, but it looks to be graveled now…) We went up and up and ended up at the I-90 exit 53 intersection (an apparent backway to the Summit at Snoqualmie if you need one). At that point we realized our mistake and turned around.

Looking west about 3/4 of the way to the fallsInstead of heading back to the first trailhead, we parked where the trail confluences Forest Road 5880 and pulled off. We started there and went onwards to the falls. This trail is well maintained and looks like some serious love keeps it in shape. Another great reason to support the WTA.

It is windy and up hill, but not a serious grade. The challenge comes at the end when the kids get to play mountain goat and wind their way around the end of the hill on a rockface downwards to the base of the falls and level with Denny Creek. At this time of year, one can skip across the river without getting wet if they take the time to balance over. I was able to get there, even with Bailey tugging at me, but the kids asked for and got the little extra help they needed.

A nice lunch later and we started back. Bailey and I went ahead. Actually, I went ahead and when the trail was clear Aileen let Bailey go and he bounded up the rocks towards me. Much easier when you have an energetic dog than to try to have him drag up the rockface. We kept going towards the car.

A pretty sweet treat hit us almost the whole way back to the car. Seattle Mountain Rescue was doing a training exercise and I got to talk to a few of the Explorer Search & Rescue folks that were there training up. They had a rope line across the gully and were sending people out and down for practice traversing into canyons from above.

Bailey and I got back to the car and I got him some water. After that I headed back in to meet up with the girls and we stopped off at the S&R folks again so Kelsey could watch. Back to the car and the girls got tired and hopped in with mom. I continued on foot and finished off the portion of the trail we inadvertently skipped, and then just continued on to the campground.

Next time we do this, we’ll have to do the whole thing from the campground and leave the car there. The hike between the Denny Creek Trailhead and where we parked was almost more fun than the part we did hike. Maybe we’ll hit the water slides next weekend if its warm… :)

Franklin Falls

Trip total trail miles: 1.71
Hike-A-Thon total: 2.97

720 - Kanaskat Palmer State Park

Class IV rapids aheadA great day at the Green River for the entire family. Not many trails in this state park save the few between parking and the river and the ones from day use to the campground. I’m not sure there is an official named trail in this park, but the ones that are there are pretty well maintained. From the day use parking area head North to the river or west to the campgrounds. For a longer hike, choose west which trail gets you back to the entrance. For a nice splashdown, head north to the river.

Facing west at the riverThe Green River actually has class IV rapids if you follow the river downstream to the Southwest from the day use area.

The rangers here are really nice and very active at the front entrance on busy summer days like this one. Dogs are allowed here, and most of the ones present were very well behaved. You do however have to watch out the for the occasional dog scat piles from ill behaved human masters.

This area of the river is great for tubing, swimming, floating, and just generally enjoying the cool river water. Great place for a quick family dip or a nice limited rafting/tubing trip. Not the place to go for hiking, but it’s still a lot of fun!
Kanaskat Palmer State Park

Trip total trail miles: 0.62
Hike-A-Thon total: 1.26

715 - White River Campground & Shadow Lake Trail

The girls and mom halfway down the Shadow Lake Trail.We thought we’d get a nice kick to the month off by taking my mom tent camping for the first time in her life (she hasn’t been popup camping since I was a kid…) Besides a few stiff joints, she ended up doing really well and we’re super proud of her for the effort she put in.

Aileen was able to leave Maple Valley early enough on Friday while I worked to secure us a nice spot in loop D of the White River Campground, just down the loop from the Glacier Basin trailhead. We went to the campfire program that night and learned about the many hats rangers wear, including collecting seeds for replanting meadows that have been tromped by the ill informed.

Breakfast this morning brought us a beautiful black tailed deer doe that came right down the hill and through our site. Unfortunately, we were yet to get any gear together to have grabbed a photo. We were eyeing up the Glacier Basin trail and the trail from the campground to Sunrise. But with our first timer with us (first time hiking too!) we decided to opt for a smoother transition.

South from Shadow Lake TrailWe hit the Junior Ranger program in the morning and drove to Sunrise. After a good lunch, we started down the Shadow Lake Trail intent on getting us as far as the group could make it. Arthritis set in and we had an early end. We didn’t make it past the service road that you take west to get to Shadow Lake, so it was dusty; however, there were great views of Rainier and some wonderful Anise Swallowtail Butterflies following us around. All around still a great experience for the group.

I forgot to turn on Trailguru until the turn around point, so the below is only the return trip.
Shadow Lake Trail Portion - Return Trip

Trip total trail miles: 0.64. Not a lofty start, but I’m damn proud of my mom for hitting a Sunrise trail as her first hike.

706 - TrailGuru and TrailRunnerX

TrailGuru logoThere are quite a few decent trail tracking apps available for the iPhone. I wanted to start out by using the fee ones first.

TrailRunnerX Logo

Whereas I like EveryTrail’s UI just a bit more, TrailGuru won out. The .gpx files turned out by TrailGuru are more compatible with TrailRunnerX (a really great trail/route/run/bike/etc tracking program for OS X). TrailGuru’s .gpx files did have some bogus negative elevations I had to remove for importing, but the web site just ignored them when presenting them in the public WIKI.

Here’s a link to the Test Trip I took on the bus home from work as I was sampling the apps. That same run in TrailRunnerX looks like this:
Test Trip

See, I can’t start into something like a Hike-A-Thon without getting serious about data collection. Besides, all you by the mile sponsors are going to want to keep track of how I’m doing… 😀

699 - FUNDRAISER – WTA Hike-A-Thon

WTA 2009 Hike-A-Thon BannerI am participating in the Washington Trails Association’s Hike-A-Thon this August. This is a fundraiser to help WTA get the funds they need for trail maintenance, supplies like cross cut saws used to clear trails, crew leader training and more.

I’m doing this for several reasons. First, I really believe in the WTA and the work they do as stewards for our states trails. If you’ve enjoyed a hike on a trail in WA, chances are it was made more enjoyable at least in part by the WTA’s work either building the trail, clearing the trail, or as lobbyists for hikers rights. Second, its important to me to teach our kids to not only enjoy the outdoors, but also to enjoy the pastimes of hiking, camping, and to gain general survival skills (building fire, navigating, etc.) Lastly, I am going to be joining the King County Search and Rescue Training later this year and I need to get into a lot better shape for that.

The Hike-A-Thon continues throughout the entire month of August, and only trail miles count. I’ll be bringing the girls (Aileen, Kelsey, and Kaela) on almost every hike, so it will be hard to get a large number of miles logged (4 and 6 year old legs don’t go quite as far as mine) . My goal is to get 50 miles between all the family hikes, several solitary hikes, and at least a few hikes with just Aileen and I.

If you share the sentiment and would like to sponsor me, I would be very appreciative. All monies go to the WTA. You can SPONSOR a flat rate online or you can sign my pledge form (email works too) and pledge a per mile rate to keep me motivated.

AND, if you donate $35 or more ($20 or more as a student) you are entitled to a free WTA membership. Let me know if you want that option and I’ll forward details after I receive your pledge. This is also a great way to join the WTA if you have been meaning to do so anyway… :)

If you want to live vicariously through me during this adventure, follow my progress in the Hike-A-Thon category on my blog. I’ll be posting pictures, thoughts, trip reports, and more. Feel free to comment on the posts to encourage me to keep going! :)

Finally, If you don’t want to donate, I understand that as well. Just do me one favor if you don’t sponsor me. Go online, find a trail, and go on a hike this summer. Get outdoors and enjoy the vast wilderness that WA state (or any other state for that matter) has to offer. The fresh air and views are so totally worth it.

639 - Random Alcohol Trivia Question

What do the following drinks have in common?

Smirnoff, Baileys, Crown Royal, Captain Morgan, Johnnie Walker, Ketel One, Jose Cuervo, Tanqueray, Guinness

First commenter to answer correctly gets a drink on me next time we go out together (probably helps if you either know me, live in the Seattle area, or will be going to a conference I’ll be attending as well.) Must be over 21 to ‘enter’ ad ‘win’.

Answer to follow later…

637 - Wells Fargo tried to short me money when closing account.

I know the economic climate requires businesses to get inventive about raising profits, but stealing from customers is NOT a way to do it. I had a checking account and savings account at Wells Fargo. I went to the 4th Ave and Seneca branch in Seattle on Wednesday to close my account.

Pretty simple request and I even made sure to let them know it wasn’t about the service; we were merely consolidating accounts elsewhere, and I don’t like to have open accounts that aren’t going to be actively used, what with identity theft and all.

It took a few minutes for CSR rep Phoung to come out from the back to help me. He seemed like a nice person and we were chatting friendly. Until he tried to get me to sign the slip for how much money I was getting out of my account. The number was $4.76 lower than it should have been. I asked what debit had gone through to lower the balance knowing I had not used the card myself. He said that sometime they don’t post right away. I reiterated that I had checked the balance myself, written it down and had not used it.

After that he said, “hmm, OK” and filled out a new slip with the number i knew to be right. Now, had it really been a fraudulent debit, there is no way he had the ability without even contacting the fraud department to just write it off like that.

What conclusion does that leave in my head? That either Wells Fargo or he alone were intentionally trying to short me the money due me hoping I would not notice. This rep risked his job, his license, and his livelihood for the price of a latte. I don’t know whether it is common practice or brought down from above, or whether he just chose to do it on his own, or whether it was an accident – however unlikely that may be. Either way, I know it happened, and in the process Wells Fargo lost me as a customer forever.

I’d welcome comments from Wells Fargo cashiers, bankers, or executives into if what I saw happens regularly, or if there is a plausible explanation for what happened. With or without it, I’d suggest to everyone I know to just flat out avoid Wells Fargo altogether.

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