Jordan flew into Seattle late Wednesday afternoon and rolled into Yakima later in the evening (styling in his rented Buick). Thanksgiving morning we had kind of a late start but eventually decided to find a day hike somewhere to the west. The forecast looked ugly for Mt Rainier so we stopped well short of the park (and well within our pocket of sunshine) and opted for a scramble up Kloochman Rock. I was here earlier in the year and knew it would be a short enough hike to get us back in plenty of time to make Mary’s Thanksgiving dinner deadline. Crossing over frozen mud puddles, we parked at a trailhead near a bullet-ridden sign on the south side of the rock.
The trail wrapped around a mostly frozen wetlands, following what looked more like a game trail than an official trail in places and occasionally tagging along with rutted jeep tracks. Nature at its purest.
After a mile and a half we crossed paths with some cougar prints (I think), then cleared our tree cover and started to scramble up the talus fields at the base of Kloochman.
When we left Yakima the temperature had been below freezing, but now hiking in the full sun I was too warm hiking in shorts and a lightweight longsleeve shirt. Couldn’t have asked for much nicer weather on a late-November day. We traversed along the south side of the rock before turning north and pushing up a gully full of shifting, sliding chunks of basalt.
Onto the summit. The views were somewhat limited by the cloud cover in the distance, but Gilbert Peak was still in sight and the nearby surroundings were plenty enjoyable. Pictured: Jordan consulting with his GPS and me with Goose Egg Mountain in the background.
We retraced our steps, and with appetites now well in place, made it back home with an hour to spare before turkey time. I helped by chopping potatoes (and other impossible-to-ruin tasks) while Jordan played video games and the dogs milled about waiting scraps to fall from the sky. Dinner was outstanding of course.
Yesterday we drove up to Chinook Pass and managed to completely dodge sunshine for the day. It was kind of a fun change of pace, though I wouldn’t have complained if the fog/snow lifted long enough to at least give a glimpse of the surrounding mountains. The nearby foothills were largely snow-free so I was a little surprised to see how much snow had already accumulated at the pass.
We parked near Tipsoo Lake (frozen) and decided to do a short three-mile hike around Naches Peak. We tromped along a path beaten down by cross-country skiers, flanked on one side by icicle encrusted rock and on the other by drops into the valley.
By the end of our hike the snow was starting to blow in a little heavier so we jumped in the car and headed back east, stopping at Union Creek Falls on the way. This random side trip actually was probably the highlight of the day. The topo map I was looking at showed a falls just a short half mile hike from the trailhead, but that little blip of text wasn’t nearly indication enough for the spectacular cascade of water that greeted us as we came around a bend in the trail. Icicles and moss shared the rocky cliffs as water poured off a towering precipice into a green lagoon rimmed with ice. Gorgeous.