It feels like a world, and a pandemic away, but in June of 2019, I had the great pleasure of going on a road trip, camping around the Yukon with two good friends of mine. Together, we had a blast.
To fly from New York to Whitehorse, I had a few layovers. During the final stretch, from Vancouver to Whitehorse, the scenery was the most spectacular: craggly mountains meeting a stunning coastline for miles and miles.
And, though the Yukon was absolutely stunning and beautiful in its own right, when I flew over those mountain ranges for the first time, I couldn't help but feel some niggling doubt in the back of my mind. If British Columbia was so beautiful, why was I bothering going further North?
Washington State's most famous and scenic mountain is, of course, Mt. Rainier. It's an active volcano covered in glaciers, a mere 60 miles or so from the city. If or when it erupts, it is likely to be catastrophic.
Besides that, it's the most prominent mountain in the contiguous United States. In other words, it's wayyy taller than its surroundings.
Given that Seattle residents can only see Mt. Rainier a little under one in four days per year, it's no wonder that Seattleites and tourists flock in droves to visit Mt. Rainier National Park, a place I skirted the edge of, but absolutely didn't otherwise visit because it's a long (~3.5 hr) drive and I'm lazy.
So, when a colleague asked about recommended hikes for wildflowers, and another colleague (V.) gave a strong recommendation the Skyline Trail, I knew I was interested. A few messages later, we overcame our mutual desire not to do the work of planning, and agreed on an afternoon hike. And on carpooling.
There is a clear and obvious reason why people live in Seattle.
They might be miserable and sun-deprived and antisocial (but pretending they're not) for most of the year, but there's a special time in which that is absolutely not so. It's called "summer", and it runs from the end of June until sometime in September. Once it expires, it's back to the gloom.
I could feel my body react to the sunlight, the warmth, the near-perfect temperature with no humidity when it started. Suffice to say, I was pleased and smiley.
One barista, who moved to Seattle from Los Angeles at the beginning of the summer encapsulated the mood as follows, "I came to Seattle, and everyone was just smiling all the time. And I was wondering, what is wrong with all of you people."
The summer is when it is warm enough to enjoy any of the lakes around Seattle. It's when the snow has melted enough that the mountain peaks become accessible to the less intrepid. It's when the mountain is out, meaning that the sky is clear and Mt. Rainier can be seen from numerous vantage points around Seattle.
It's also when I had a series of guests visiting me, each of whom could leave content that they got the completely wrong idea about living here the rest of the year.
As I've entertained guests from out of town, some of the most enjoyed places we've visited have been lakes. As Seattle's heatwaves have come and gone, I've enjoyed the sunshine on Lake Washington and Lake Samammish. I've hiked to and from alpine lakes. I've taken a decent lil number of photos at lakefront parks, including a few that were on my "to-visit" list for a while, so when all is said and done, I am absolutely a lake person these days...
The focus of this post, though, is gonna be lakes & rivers. (And sound and locks.)
Many, many moons ago, I hiked a trail called Old Logger's Path, which I completed in 2.5 days and three nights. Around when I was leaving, I said, somewhat in passing to my mom, that she should feel welcome to come with me on some other backpacking trip if she was interested.
And guess what. She was interested.
We had discussed maybe doing an overnighter on a section of the Appalachian Trail, but we never got around to it. I was busy that summer, visiting my old haunts of Pittsburgh and New York, apartment hunting in Seattle, and eventually moving there. In fact, I had would up only deciding on one backpacking trip in all of 2021, and I bailed on that trip pretty darn early.
So, when my parents finally came out to visit me in July for the first time and enjoy Seattle's lovely, lovely, lovely temperate summer weather, backpacking with me was one of the top things on my mom's to-do list.
The goal then was to pick something relatively moderate, without too much elevation gain, but something still substantial enough for my mom not to feel like she had wussed out.
Eventually, I settled on the Thunder Creek trail in North Cascades National Park, which seemed pretty flat and easy. I was able to score a permit for two campers in the Tricouni Campground, located at mile marker 7.
Seven flat easy miles of forests and creek. A hiking companion that was somewhat dependant on my expertise.
For each of the "weekly photography challenges this month" I went at least a little out of my way to go somewhere around Seattle. But, I don't think this month's are as nice as last month's. So that's that.
Read on for the images & self-reflection yadda-yadda.
Obviously, I can't blame peeps for taking pictures!
Two weekends ago, Seattle Center hosted the Seattle Arab Festival, a celebration of Arab culture and vendors that has been held annually in the city for many years now. The whole festival included an array of performances, many of which I missed.
The performance I didn't miss, though, was the closing one. My friend Bashar was on stage as part of the group Damascus Papers, who played an energetic set of Syrian and American folk music. In short, the show was a rocking good time. (Damascus Papers also opened the festival, but I was off kayaking.)
It was fun to hear some of the repertoire from Bashar's previous band, Country for Syria, along with new-to-me material.
I'm not super qualified to write about Arab folk music, but I know what I like, and I know my head was bopping to "Ranchita" and the complex time signatures. The band seamlessly pulled off many quick transitions between American and Syrian folk music, blending styles and tempos to the audience's delight.
All photos are straight-out-of-camera JPEG's. I have done absolutely no editing. A fuller set can be found on an album on Flickr.