Just a Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally about his thoughts on life.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Bavarian town Leavenworth in Washington

About two hours east of Seattle is the small town of Leavenworth. Partially inspired by Solvang in California, the town reinvented itself in the early 60's to take on a heavy Bavarian influence. Now, Leavenworth serves as a popular weekend getaway for both tourist and locals alike all throughout the year.


Home to the famous Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, Leavenworth is a great place to visit because it's not too far from Seattle, there's tons of beautiful hikes to explore on the way there, and ample hiking and climbing opportunities once you're actually in town.

To get there, you can either take highway 90 or 2. Either option seems to take about the same amount of time.


Leavenworth truly is a small town. According to a 2016 census, the town has a population of just slightly under 2,000 people (1,994 inhabitants).

Originally established as a small timber community, Leavenworth headquartered the Great North Railroad in the early 1900. However, after the railroad relocated to the nearby town of Wenatchee, Leavenworth's economy collapsed. To save their economy, Leavenworth thus became a themed town to attract tourist.

Using the Danish-themed town Solvang in California as a guide, business men Ted Price and Bob Rodgers had to work to convince the Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone) Committee that becoming a themed town was the best path forward towards saving Leavenworth's economy. As outsiders, their efforts often faced a lot of headwind from the locals. According to Pauline Watson:

“Small town merchants don’t want to be told what to do, and they don’t want to be told by somebody from out of town. ... You folks lived in Seattle before ... and now you are trying to tell us what we should do. It was going over like a bomb! Not that it wasn’t a good idea, it was simply coming from the outside” (Price, 40).

In time however, the town warmed up to Price and Rodger's ideas, embraced the Bavarian theme, and Leavenworth became the tourist attraction it is today.




If you're ever in Leavenworth, be sure to stop by the Icicle Brewing Company for great beer and pretzels. And if you're looking for late night activity, The Loft opens late.

For more information on Leavenworth:

1) http://leavenworth.org/
2) http://www.historylink.org/File/9475
3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leavenworth,_Washington
4) https://iciclebrewing.com/
5) https://www.yelp.com/biz/icicle-brewing-leavenworth
6) https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-loft-leavenworth-2?osq=bar
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Hiking Franklin Falls, King County, Washington

Taken from WTA's site because I felt it summed up the hike perfectly: "At just 2 miles roundtrip with 400 feet in elevation gain, Franklin Falls is the perfect destination for any hiker looking for something easy and beautiful."


Trail Description
Length: 2 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 400 feet
Difficulty Assessment: Easy
Trail Type: Out and Back
Dog Friendly - Must be leashed

Northwest Forest Pass required to park
Official Site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r6/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fsbdev2_027010
You can buy it at various vendors. Annual is around $30, day pass is $5 and can be purchased at the lot. Have exact change if possible

Directions

From Seattle, E on I-90 to exit 47. Left off the freeway. Right at T in road for .4 miles. Left on FSR 58 for 2.5 miles to FSR 5830. Turn left and park before bridge, trailhead is just before bridge on the right -- Taken from AllTrails.


The Hike

I didn't look around too much when I was here, but my impression of the area is that it's a great place to camp for the weekend with family.

Although Franklin Falls is located right underneath the I-90W highway, it doesn't really take away too much from the area. It's still a neat little fall and perfect to have lunch at and let kids play in the water.

The hike from the parking lot to the falls is not difficult at all. It's a mostly flat 1-mile hike  straddled by the river and the road. As such, it's not uncommon to see people park their cars alongside the road rather than in the paid lot to avoid paying $5.


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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hiking Snoqualmie Falls Trail, Washington

A wee bit past Issaquah and just outside of North Bend, lies Snoqualmie Falls. Easy to access off the 90-E, Snoqualmie Falls is a great place to visit, especially if you want to take a dip in the river.


Trail Description Length:
1.4 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 250 feet
Difficulty Assessment: Easy
Trail Type: Out and Back

Dog Friendly - Must be leashed

Directions:
Snoqualmie Falls is such a popular location that any map app should be able to locate this attraction. Just drive along the 90-east until you reach Northbend.

There are a few places to park: the main lot, the upper lot, and the lower lot. The main parking lot is a fee lot, while the upper and lower lot are free. I personally prefer parking at the lower lot. I start by looking at the falls from below, hike to the top for an alternative view, and then return down to the lot and hang out by the river for a bit.




The Hike

The walk to the bottom of the falls is not difficult at all and suitable for all ages and sizes. It's a flat walk towards some stairs that eventually lead to a walkway along the river.



And the end of the walkway, there is an area for people to take pictures. It's small however so be prepared to wait if you want a picture without other visitors in it.


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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hiking Wallace Falls, Snohomish County, Washington

Close to the city, easy on the knees; Wallace Falls is a great day hike if hanging out near the river and looking at waterfalls is your thing!


Trail Description
Length: 5.6 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 1300 feet
Difficulty Assessment: Easy
Trail Type: Out and Back
Dog Friendly - Must be leashed

Discover Pass required to park
Official Site: http://discoverpass.wa.gov/
You can buy it at various vendors. Annual is around $30, day pass is I think $10.

Directions

From the city, make your way towards Highway 2 east. Drive through the cities of Sultan, Startup, until you reach Gold Bar. There, make a left on 1st, a right onto 1st Ave/May Creek, and drive until May Creek becomes Ley Rd. Continue on Ley Rd, over the Wallace River, and follow it as it curves to your left. From here, follow the signs to the Wallace Falls parking lot.

The lot isn't small, but it isn't large either. Definitely try and get here early.


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Climbing at Exit 32: Blackstone, Washington

Left around 11am for Exit 32, a.k.a., Little Si. Not surprising, both lots were completely full when we got there.

We parked at Tanner Tanding Park, another lot right before the bridge over the Snoqualmie River. Parking at Tanner Park adds roughly another mile to your approach which consist of walking along the street to the Little Si parking lots. It's a good option for climbers and hikers who can't find parking or for those who don't want to pay for the discovery pass.


For directions to the parking lot alternative, see below:



Because we had never climbed with each other before, me and Stefane decided to take things easy and just climb at Blackstone. Blackstone is but one of many attractions at Little Si for climbers. In addition to Blackstone, you have the ever popular World Wall I & II, The British Isle, and AWOL, to name a few.

Getting to Blackstone is incredibly easy. Just get onto the Little Si trailhead and hike until you see the giant wall to your left. It's perhaps about 1-2 miles in and you have to walk a bit past the wall to access the path to the wall. Once you see the black wall on your left, just keep wlaking and look for any well worn path off the Little Si trail. It should all be very obvious.

Blackstone only has 8 routes, almost all below 5.10. For more information on those particular routes, check MP: https://www.mountainproject.com/v/blackstone/105827415

That day, we led a few 5.9s and I led a 5.10c. All in all, not too challenging, but a safe way of measuring each other's belaying abilities.


I met a lot of other local climbers that day and exchanged numbers.
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Monday, August 07, 2017

Hiking Big Si, North Bend, Washington

Mt. Si is probably the most popular hike to do near Seattle, Washington. Akin to Phoenix's Camelback Mountain, it's popularity stems from it's proximity to the city, the difficulty, and the time required to complete it. Parking is a bit tough on the weekends, but if you make it up the mountain, you'll be rewarded with beautiful views of the valley. That is, if the clouds let up.


Trail Description
Length: 7.5-8.0 miles round trip
Elevation Change: 3277 feet
Difficulty Assessment: Moderate
Trail Type: Out and Back
Dog Friendly - Must be leashed

Discover Pass required to park
Official Site: http://discoverpass.wa.gov/
You can buy it at various vendors. Annual is around $30, day pass is I think $10.

Direction

From I-90E, take exit 32 and head north on 436th Ave SE. When you hit SE North Bend Way, make a left and turn right onto SE Mt. Si Rd. After crossing the metal bridge, you'll pass by two parking lots. Those are the lots for Small Si. Ignore those. Drive for a few more miles down the street and eventually you'll come to the large parking lot. There are so many signs that you shouldn't miss it. The entrance to the lot should be between 464th Ave SE and 461th. Alternatively, you can just Google "Mt Si Hike" and you'll find it.

Parking is not as difficult as it is at Little Si. Mostly because the lot is much larger.


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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Climbing Multi-Pitch at Exit 38: Far Side, Neverland Area, Lost Boys

On July 3rd, I did my first multi pitch route at Neverland. Having never gotten around to doing multi pitch, I figured my temporary stay in Washington would be a good opportunity to change that.

Directions:

Finding the Lost Boys in the Neverland area can be tough, especially if you've never been there before. It's not impossible, but it's definitely tricky. Here are some pictures to help you navigate your way there!


From I-90E, take exit 38 and continue East on Homestead Valley Rd. You will pass the South Fork Picnic area and Ollalie State Park on your left. About a mile after the picnic area, take a left and drive under the I-90 highway, there you'll immediately find Exit 38 Far Side parking lot.

You'll need a Discovery Pass to park there. The fine for not having one is $99.00. The cost of a day pass is I think $5-10. The cost for an annual pass is $30. You do the math.

From the lot, walk north along the road across the bridge, over the Snowqualmie River.


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