Tuesday, November 13, 2012

SEPTEMBER 9-23, 2012 – EXCHANGE IN PNW (Seattle area)

11 Australian “Bushies” from YHA in Brisbane thoroughly enjoyed their 2 week hiking exchange trip in Washington State, especially the beaches near La Push and the alpine meadows at Mt Rainier.  Because of the wildfires in Eastern Washington, the Leavenworth segment had to be canceled and other hikes were added in the Seattle area.  A very special thanks to the CAI - PNW leadership team of gracious hosts, dependable drivers and expert hike leaders:  Bev Dahlin & Steve Johnson, Rosalie & George Whyel, Clarence Elstad, Norizan & Frank Paterra, Linda & Sean Sheehan, Flo & John Burnett, Sheri & Joe Rowe and Bev & Ron Riter.  
Sunday, Sept 9 – Arrival and Welcome Dinner.  One Aussie became 4 Aussies with 3 more arriving from Yellowstone National Park.  Then 4 became 11 when another 7 arrived via Canada and Glacier National Park.  So we all made it, safe and sound and ready for a wonderful CAI-PNW welcome dinner at the Riter residence.  There was a bit of concern that the 40 odd days of “drought” were going to be broken as the dark clouds gathered overhead, but there was just a little sprinkle and the party got underway without a hitch.  The rain stayed away until people started to leave at the end of the night.  There were many introductions, lots of talking, laughter and wonderful food.  The Aussies had arrived and we were given a terrific reception from all our old and new CAI-PNW friends.   Thanks to everyone concerned for such a great start to our trip.  (By Sandra Godsell)

Monday, Sept 10 – Seattle Walk.  Steve was kind enough to take us to see the many sights of Seattle city. Amidst the splendour of a modern city and its tourist appeal, the many homeless people seen on the streets are a reminder that some people live in very different circumstances. At the ice cream shop in Pike Place Market the staff told the story of a homeless man, and how the majority of their proceeds go to support this person. That they care for the environment and the people in it is a side of the Seattle people and in particular CAI-PNW members that I really appreciate. Thank you for your generosity!  (By Heydi van Mourik) 

Tues, Sept 11 – Seattle to Beach at La Push. Great to see all the crew in the ferry line-up and Flo’s fab embroidered name badges were very handy as we got to know each other on the crossing to Kingston. Such a gorgeous day, so we stopped to wander around Port Gamble and took a minute when we realized the flags were at half mast to remember the tragedies of 9/11. After lunch at Lake Crescent some hiked to Marymere Falls and others to the Lodge to check out the Roosevelt Lounge, complete with an elk head mounted over the fireplace. Before long we were on vampire alert, but had little to fear on such a bright, sunny day. Outside Forks we noticed a sign “NO Vampires beyond this point – Treaty Line” so knew that we were in Quileute territory. The deep, dark forests are perfect for the werewolves. We oohed and aahed at the amazing coastal rock formations and enjoyed Bev’s fabulous sunset dinner overlooking the Pacific Ocean – this is rare for Aussies, who normally enjoy a Pacific sunrise. (By Maria Bowdler)
Wed, Sept 12Rialto Beach. Thanks to Clarence, who suggested we leave at 9 am rather than 8 am, we all had an unhurried morning before setting off for our beach walk at Rialto Beach. “Wear your walking boots”, said Bev when I asked.  "Why on earth would you wear walking boots on a beach walk?" I thought. But I dutifully complied. And I soon saw why. We arrived at a beautiful beach, covered with shiny, smooth round pebbles of various sizes. It was like no beach I’d ever seen in Australia.  Huge cast rocks coming out of the ocean, with small trees and vegetation growing on them – a magnificent sight. It was hard walking on the soft pebbly beach though. As the tail end group rounded a headland, we saw our group gathered on a tree trunk for a break. And someone was swimming in the ocean! "No it couldn’t possibly be one of our Aussie mob" I said. "We’re from Queensland where the water is warm, so we are big sooks when it comes to cold water. It must be one of the Seattle crowd." But blow me down, as we approached, it turned out to be our Aussie Ian, languishing in the water as if he was off Surfers Paradise beach back home. No-one else joined him in the water though! Checking all the rock pools near the hole-in-the-wall was a highlight of the walk, with sea stars and brightly coloured anemones to catch our attention. A great day of walking. (By Toni Strozkiy)

Thurs, Sept 13 Hoh Rain Forest. 
Story 1:  Last night, sitting by the fire on the beach, Sarah was enjoying the party so much and not aware that fire sparks had burnt two holes on each leg of her pants until she was back at the cabin.

Story 2:  Today, we are going to walk in the Hoh Rain Forest and I am very excited about it because Elks live in that area. As we drove along, I looked very hard into the forest through the car window for Elks. I saw 2 whitetail deer but no Elks. When we arrived at the ranger station, to my surprise an Elk's hoof suddenly appeared in front of my eyes. My eyes followed the hoof moving upwards. I then found myself looking at a person. It was Ranger Jon holding an Elk's hoof to welcome us to the special rain forest tour and talk. What a special moment! I quickly shook the hand (hoof) of our guide and had a photo taken with the 'Elk' by our crew. You can get copies of this photo from a couple of Australian participants.

Story 3:  Some interesting stories from Ranger Jon of Hoh River Station:
Twilight Saga at Hoh River Valley. Jon's daughter was recovering from her appendicitis operation. As a teenager, she was bored from not being able to go out and have fun, so wanted an iPod. To raise funds, Jon suggested she run a lemonade stand in front of their house. So she did. In one day, four Twilight bus tours stopped at the stall and made her quite a substantial profit. Three days later, she had enough funds to get herself a very wanted IPOD. (By Jiaorong Li)

Fri, Sept 14 -  Hurricane Ridge. Our last day at La Push started earlier and colder than the previous couple of days with news that the temperature at 6.30am was 37 degrees F- a bit nippy for the Australian visitors from the sub-tropics of Brisbane! We had quick visits to the Olympic Visitor Centre at Port Angeles (some lucky people spotted a few deer),and the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Centre. Magnificent views from Hurricane Ridge of rolling, partially snow-covered mountain ranges to the south, including the mighty Mount Olympus, were admired despite the smoke haze from the Leavenworth fires.  After these injections of National Park information, maps, photos and retail therapy, we headed for our substantial walk of the day from Hurricane Ridge. There were 2 walks on offer: a smaller group of 7 people walked to Mt Angeles reveling in an 1800' gain over 6 miles and some serious rock scrambling at the top. Their efforts were rewarded by sightings of deer. The others walked along Klahhane Ridge with a more modest gain of 950' enjoying splendid flowers such as lupines, paintbrush and aster across the meadows, many marmot holes and a very plump rabbit! We all returned to Seattle late in the evening after a splendid day savouring a taste of the magnificent Olympic Mountains.  (By Sarah Lejeune)
Sat, Sept 15Northwest Trek & Mt Rainier.  It was another beautiful, sunny, warm day in the NW as we set off on the Mt Rainier section of our trip.  We met at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and joined the tram tour.  We were able to photograph all the wildlife we had been searching for on our travels – elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and bison, although, as Steve said the moose did not cooperate.  It posed beside the fence so we will not be able to claim that photo as a “wildlife shot”.  Other creatures we saw were raccoons, smelly porcupines, beavers, owls, eagles and lots more.  Our afternoon hike was cut short due to track closure of the first section, but enjoyable all the same. The Dancing Bear Lodge is very comfy.  Maria and Sarah relaxed in the hot tub, and we all enjoyed the great meal prepared by Bev and her crew.  Thank you for another great day.  (By Jackie Wilson)
Mon, Sept 17 - Skyline Trail and Panorama Point. The day started out as usual with Paul and I last up and a mad rush over to the Dancing Bear Lodge for breakfast. The weather was warm (soon to get hot) and sunny with the ever present forest fire haze. We drove up to an area called Paradise through lush forests along a winding road that offered good views at times. Paradise was a surprise not only for its stunningly close view of Mt Rainier, but also for the style and scale of the lodge and visitor centre buildings. Once all had arrived and got organized we were led off by Joe. The highlight for me occurred before our lunch break at Panorama Point. This was how close the group was able to get to several hoary marmots that were not in the least worried about our presence. Mention must be made here about a certain young lady from Italy who, having a snowball thrown at her by an Australian member of the group concerned that she may be overheating, received repeated snowball attacks on his person.

Just prior to lunch Steve led a small splinter group on a higher track to avoid a climb over a field of snow. They had their lunch looking down on us. Strange music-like noises also emanated from their general direction but nobody could identify what sort of animal was making the sounds. Special mention must be made of Heydi who overcame her fear of heights and falling to cross the snow. The track here was narrow and slippery, and there was the potential to have a long sliding fall. Because of the smoke Panorama Point did not live up to its name, but a lot of people went and admired the elaborate stone restroom. By the time lunch was finished the day had turned quite hot making it a relief to finish the walk and retire to the visitor centre.  (By Ian Murdoch)
Tues, Sept 18 – Indian Henry's Cabin. Joe led a longer walk starting at the Kautz Creek Trail head with the destination, Indian Henry’s Patrol Cabin, 5.7 miles away. Ron, Paul, Ian, David and Jiaorong joined Joe for the walk. With an elevation gain of 3200 feet, the “Up” came quickly, the trail rising through old growth forest. Eventually the forest gave way to spectacular rocky outcrops, low shrubs and lots of huckleberries. Over a ridge, Mt Rainier blazed into view providing a great reward for the climb, but a further unexpected treat was in store. The next bend revealed a steep, grassy valley with a female black bear and cub staring up at the uninvited visitors above. Interrupted from their foraging, they made a leisurely retreat to the bushes at the valley bottom.  The verandah of Indian Henry’s Patrol Cabin, seemingly at the foot of Mt Rainier itself, provided a shady lunch venue. Soon we were on our way to Mirror Lake for photos of mountain reflections, a further mile away. Weighing up the choice of the route back, we decided to head for Longmire, 7 miles from the Ranger’s hut with little in the way of “Ups”. The changing scenery was again rewarding. With Joe walking rapidly ahead so as to retrieve the car from the Kautz Creek Trail head Car park (3 miles down the road from Longmire), the rest of the party emerged from the forest to await collection, having walked some 15 miles. After consuming 2 Gatorades from the General Store at Longmire, Joe sprinted to get the car, and was soon back, so with the sun going down, all had experienced a great day.  (By David Jackson)

Wed, Sept 19 – Grove of Patriarchs, Lake Tipsoo, Sunrise & Burroughs. We headed to the Grove of the Patriarchs and saw 1000 year old trees such as Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Hemlock and Alder along the banks of the Ohanapecosh River (try saying this after a few beers). Walked across the first suspension bridge of the trip. Departed Grove of the Patriarchs and drove to Tipsoo Lake. Hiked around the lake looking for the perfect reflections of Mt Rainier. From Tipsoo Lake we drove to the Sunrise Visitor Centre for lunch. The day had really heated up so we all scattered to find picnic tables with good shade from the bright sun.
After lunch we set off on a hike to Frozen Lake and the first and second Burroughs near Mt Rainier. In my opinion this was the most spectacularly beautiful hike of the entire trip so far (including Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in Wyoming). Mt Rainier appeared so close, I felt I could just reach out and touch it. The weather was simply perfect and the views incredible. Many thanks to Steve for leading this hike.  A fantastic three days in the Mt Rainier National Park. (By Paul Cridland)
Thurs, Sept 20 – Mt Pilchuck. It was an exciting day. Mum brought the car around and after a long trip we stopped at Mt Pilchuck trail head. There were lots of new people to greet and get acquainted with. They spoke a bit funny. Mum said they came from a land far away. We set off on the hike through forest and granite slabs - lots of good smells there. The guests puffed going up the hill - you could tell they weren't much used to climbing. I made sure to move them on when they took too much time. They sure talked a lot and I had to keep on rounding them up and be at their heels. They made a big fuss about climbing the rocks to the lookout but I showed them the easy way to jump up and use all fours. On the way back we met some gorgeous looking boys who made me feel all hot and bothered. Luckily my friend David had some extra water to cool me off. At the end of the hike I got spoiled with lots of pats and hugs. It was a wonderful day. (By Nora - the dog - Sheehan, aka Heydi van Mourik)

Fri, Sept 21Free Day. Today was a free day for us to do whatever might take our fancy.  Some of us braved going into the city without the safety of a “local” showing us around.  However, we found that Seattle is not all that big after all, as Aussies kept “bumping” into Aussies all day!!  There were visits to EMP museum, the Klondike centre, the Aquarium and the Underground Tour, as well as many other fabulous attractions that Seattle offers.  Not to mention the excitement and experience of catching the local buses – no one was lost in the process, just a little later than planned!!  Surprisingly, the Aussie men took out the title as the biggest shoppers this trip! Then there was a small group of us, led by Steve, who went to the Arboretum to enjoy a casual stroll around the beautiful trees.  We even found some old friends from home – Snow gums, that were featured in a special Australian plot!!!  To top it off, we saw something that we’d never heard of in Australia.  The ISA (International Society of Arborists) were setting up for the Tree Climbing Championships being held the next day.  As we looked skywards, we saw a climber up in one of trees, swinging from branch to branch, as nimble as a monkey!!  It was fascinating to watch.  Another great day spent in Seattle!  (By Sandra Godsell)

Sat, Sept 22 – Lake 22 and Farewell Dinner. Most of the group met at 9:30am at the Verlot Ranger Sta. for the hike of Lake 22 and then on to the TH to start the hike about 10am. Sean, Maria, Linda and dog Nora arrived about an hour later at the TH allowing a little more sack time for our lovely guest Maria. The late group met up with the lunch eating earlier group at the lake. On the walk around the fog infused lake, Nora and another dog, Tia played wildly and exuberantly on the icy snow patches. There were some autumn flowers and even some huckleberries along the trail. We started down to the cars after the lake walk, a jolly talkative energetic bunch consisting of Francesco and Maria Luce, his lovely granddaughter, Maria and her son Francis, Flo and her engaging grandson, Ian and of course the Aussies and the hosts (Norizan and her husband Frank, Steve, Ron, Glen, John (our intrepid leader for the day), Linda, Sean and the dog Nora. Everyone enjoyed the magnificent old growth cedars, the waterfalls and camaraderie. The farewell party at the Riter's was a lovely and fitting denouement of our time with the Australian friends. (We even surprised Sarah with a birthday cake!) Good food and conversation were followed by presentations and thanks for all the hard work and fun that make these exchanges worthwhile and successful. Thanks Bev, thanks CAI-PNW. (By Linda Sheehan)
Note:  Several individuals on previous exchanges to Australia, to the PNW and to Italy, including Penny, met up again and reminisced during our Farewell Dinner!