Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hikes Around the Seattle Area----December 2014

We left the warmth of Loreto only to encounter a very cold snap in the Seattle area just before Thanksgiving. For Thanksgiving our daughter, Jessica, her husband, Joshua and, their six month old baby boy, Atticus treated us to a fabulous gourmet feast----duck pate, duck salad with a pomegranate sauce, duck brioche pudding topped with seared foie gras, sliced duck with a braised skin, scalloped potatoes, pasta with braised brussels.

Joshua is plating our Thanksgiving feast----he is a chef after all----for a beautiful presentation.

Joshua is torching the top of Tani's pumpkin-ginger cheesecake---yummy

While we were savoring our Thanksgiving together, Jessica suggested that we go for some hikes in the area like we did before.

On December 3rd we met up and decided to hike the Cougar Mountain Park area near where we use to live. We have hiked all of the trails so we picked our favorite one which ended up being about 6 miles. From the Red Town parking lot we hiked to join the Wildside Trail which led us to the Shy Bear Trail which has a very long puncheon across a big swampy area. After that we headed down to the Coal Creek Falls.

 
The falls were flowing pretty well and there were lots of icicles forming along Coal Creek. Atticus liked to hold them for a little bit before giving us a surprised look from the cold. He also enjoyed looking around, especially the swaying trees above him as we headed back to Red Town. In the late 1800's there were about 2000 coal miners and their families living in this area and now the forest has taken over. Scattered holly trees mark where people use to live.
On the way back we detoured through this coal seam path that had a sprinkling of snow and many downed trees from a recent big wind storm.
We enjoy stopping for lunch after our hikes and our usual "go to" place is either "The Commons" in Woodinville or the Thai Hanaman Restaurant in Kirkland.

The following week we added Leeloo, their long-haired whippet, to our entourage now that Jessica got a screen for keepig the dog contained in the rear of the car. Lots of logistics when moving babies and dogs around. This time we headed to scale Little Mt. Si, which is just outside North Bend. With several cars in the parking lot, we knew that we would encounter other hikers along the way so we needed to leash Leeloo.

The trail is well maintained, steep at the beginning and top, but pleasantly level midway where we crossed a small stream that fits into a culvert that some trail crew made for us. I checked it out carefully and compared it to the one I worked on with the Washington Trails Association at Deep Lake on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013. This culvert work probably took three or four people about a week to do using hand tools. If you just use the trails, most people have no idea on how much work it is to maintain such a trail. It requires cutting back the undergrowth, eliminating erosion from the weather and foot traffic, waste removal, and removing fallen trees.

It was a very windy day to be hiking there and we only realized it as we approached the summit. The winds were gusting up to 50 mph so we had trouble standing still. Even bracing ourselves for pictures we still got buffetted about.

Here Jessica is bracing herself as her hair flies about and we have a view of North Bend below us. By now Leeloo is tiring out and when we take her off leash, she now stays right by Jessica instead of charging about.

 

I am trying to stand still, but the wind gusts are pushing me every which way. Time to get off the mountain and back to the safety of "The Commons".

 
On December 16th, we again headed back to our favorite hiking spot, Coal Creek Falls in the Cougar Mountain Park. Shortly after we headed up the hill to Coal Creek Falls we were alone so we unleashed Leeloo and this was the result:
For our Christmas Feast, Tani scoured the internet for the recipes she wanted to put together this feast. The appetizers were marinated scallops wrapped in bacon, followed by cauliflower-leek sourp. The main course was wild rice-apple-cranberry stuffed pork tenderloin along with mashed sweet potatoes and wilted spinach with pomegranate dressing. Her desert was her old favorite----cranberry-current pie----with almond flour crust
 
After this feast, we headed up to the Pike Place Market just as the sun was setting so we were able to get the typical tourist shot.
We then "hiked" a bit further to the colorful produce market area.
Since Christmas, we have repeated some of the hikes in the Cougar Mtn area, but with a little guy, you always have to be flexible.
Tomorrow I begin my two month trip to SE Asia which includes my first visit to the Philippines along with Thailand as the gateway for my 80,000 United Air miles round trip. Check out my future posts. Again, I am traveling both light and cheap. My new pack and contents now weigh in at just over 7 lbs so traveling will be a breeze.