Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cougar Mountain Trails

A nice sunny weekend of 18th April '09 (a weekend before the last) started with a long list of frenzied activities to do, with plans to trek ON and OFF. After some deliberation, we said lets make it a best effort thing, if we finish off other stuff sooner, we can hit the trails. And indeed we finished our work and headed for the trails. By 1431 hrs we were at the parking lot.

The trail itself was very very boring, because even though it had surprisingly wild feel to it, the whole forest was dry, leafless and brown. As if everything around has been rendered lifeless. I wonder how beautiful the trails would look when trees are lush and more lively.
Beautiful Flower from Cougar Mountain Trail

Halfway through the trails, and we met an elderly chirpy couple. We hit a conversation with them and inquired what's worth seeing here, because so far it has been too boring. They gladly pointed us in waterfall's direction. Once we hit the waterfalls, everything looked lively, serene and green.
Standing on a rustic bridge from Cougar Mountain Trail

I love waterfalls. I had taken my tripod and was itching badly to take some slow-shutter (long exposure) shots of the beautiful falls. You can see some of the in my album.
Forceful yet Peaceful from Cougar Mountain Trail

The two things worth seeing here are the Coal Creek Falls and the Meadow Restoration Project, which we didn't see properly due to lack of time. In all, at the end of the day, the 4 hour trek was totally worth it just because of the beautiful falls.
Beautiful waterfall from Cougar Mountain Trail

Link to complete album: Cougar Mountain Trail.

Photo : Self
Directions and Marked trail maps: Ami

Now, for the enthusiastic ones, and as a reference to future trekkers, here's all the technical details that might be helpful.

Level of Trek: Beginner to Medium. But I can only speak of path we took.
This is the map marked with various trails, and the second one is marked in purple the trail we trod along.
Our path:
  1. Started walking on Red Town
  2. Left and onto Cave Hole Trail
  3. Right on Coal Creek Falls Trail (this is where we met that elderly couple)
  4. Right on Quarry Trail
  5. Right on Red Town Trail and back to parking lot
Directions to Town Trailhead:
  1. Drive on I-405 South (towards Renton), take exit 10 for Coal Creek Pkwy
  2. Continue toward 118th Ave SE/SE Coal Creek Pkwy, and continue on SE Coal Creek Pkwy
  3. Turn left at Forest Dr SE
  4. Turn right at Lakemont Blvd SE/Newcastle Coal Creek Rd
  5. Turn left at Lakemont Blvd SE, look for signs of Red Town Trailhead
Here's the Google Maps link to final destination, Red Town Trailhead.
And a very detailed map of the trails.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Darn C-Programmers!

This is exactly what I would dream like if I counted sheep while sleeping! Darn system (C-language) programmers!
Solution: Don't forget to start dream by declaring NumberSheep as long int.

via: A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language: xkcd!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A Reckless Hike to Tiger Mountain

Last weekend, after a long long time, I ventured for an outing. Had been itching and longing for some action (probably too much!) for quite some time now. But circumstantial reasons had been driving me otherwise.

A hefty 2000-foot gain to the summit of West Tiger 3, it is one of the very popular hikes in the area. Young, old, experienced or new to hiking, Tiger Mountain has trails for all of you. West Tiger 3 is 3+ miles of a hike (for the curious, here's the map).

After deliberating over weather, we finally set off on Sunday morning a little overcast, with 50-50 chances of raining. So we, in all eight of us, set off for an apparently pleasant trek to the Tiger Mountain Trails. With sun shining, we started on the trails. Few minutes into it and Viky almost gave in saying he can do no more :) We teased him and pulled him with us.

Trio From Tiger Mountain Trails

About halfway through, it started raining. Still, the trek looked promising, for we knew the view at the top was insanely beautiful. About one hour into it, and we found it was snowing! After treading along steadily, with me and Vish in the lead, we stopped for others. Only to realize few hours later that 4 of the remaining 6 had turned back, quoting lack of energy and the risk being not worth it. Failing to see them, we said lets keep going. Soon we found ourselves on trails that was not covered with snow, but ICE! Yes, snow had been walked over and over and melted and re-frozen into ice! But me and Vish were to headstrong to turn back, so we said lets keep going. Even if it meant that every once in a while we naively kept slipping. Some of the patches we crossed were very dangerous without right kind of gear. We then hit the most dangerous and almost impregnable patch: an incline of 45 degree, completely covered with thick ice! Even the most brave dare not tread on it without right gear (read: right gear == cleats or shoes with studs/spikes, ski poles, warm gloves, and some experience).

Being Reckless! From Tiger Mountain Trails

Still headstrong, we said lets do it! We went just a few meters and realized we can't move up! Every step we took up, we slipped 3 back! Even with support of some rotten branches we had picked on the way. Which by the way, were wet and freezing cold. That's when we realized we are in deep trouble. With great effort we managed to cling to a tree, and see rightly equipped people pass by us. After much debate (I would top it at 35 mins!) we came to conclusion that the only way out for us was to sit on our butts and slide our way down. But even that was risky, we had nothing to control our speed or even direction. Hands, completely frozen and about purple, had lost almost all of their dexterity. The fear of hypothermia did cross my mind a few times. Placing them on ice-clad trails sent pinching sensations. That's when we saw two of our braver buddies come hunting for us :) And... sliding on butts, poking sticks around for support, falling, skidding dangerously we finally made it to the parking lot, in one piece and just a few scratches. God must have definitely been with us LOL!

It was only that one patch where we got stuck was between us and the beautiful summit. But all the seasoned trekkers warned: 'I would not go up this patch if didn't have the right equipment'. And I'm glad we listened. Not only that, we also turned back a few reckless enthusiasts like us on our way back.

In retrospect, it was a wise move to cancel the trek for that Saturday, because if Sunday was so bad up there, god knows what it would have been like on Saturday when it was predicted that weather is very harsh (storm in some neighboring area) with strong wind currents.

Here's the whole album: Tiger Mountain Trails.
And a short 15s youtube video of us walking on ice!


And here's photo slideshow:

0. Tiger Mountain Trails
1. Walking on ice
Photo Credits: Self and Ami