Friday, February 12, 2016

Cross Country Ski Day at Cypress Mountain

Ahhh - the serenity of the mountains on a cold, crisp, sunny, snow day!  There is nothing quite like it.  

Rob and I recently decided to register for a Cross Country Classic ski lesson at Cypress Mountain.  What a wonderful way to explore this fantastic ski area.

Read more on Inside Vancouver

#crosscountry #ski #snow #winterlove

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

In Over Our Heads - Oneonta Falls, Oregon

In Over Our Heads – Oneonta Falls, Oregon

Discover Outdoors Oneonta Falls, Oregon
Oneonta Falls, Oregon
After cycling Crater Lake, we decided to take the scenic route home and explore Mt. Hood Territory and the Columbia River Gorge.  The most challenging part of our day was deciding where we should go and what we should do.  I would suggest you could spend an entire year in this area and not come close to exploring all of the trails, rivers and streams that make up this wonderful outdoor playground.

At 12,000 feet, Mount Hood is the highest point in Oregon and considered to be the crown jewel of the Gorge.  We were lucky enough to be driving on a beautiful, sunny day and were rewarded by incredible views of Mt. Hood for most of the day.  The mountain called out to us and as we drove by we made a promise to return!

Our route took us through acres of orchards and wineries all nestled in the mountain valley.  We arrived at the Town of Hood River and were immediately captivated by the bright colours of the kites and windsurfing sails.  To call this a windsurfing mecca is an understatement.  The Gorge is famous for its wind and Hood River is the place to be when the wind blows!

Discover Outdoors Oneonta Falls, Oregon
Hood River, Oregon

Discover Outdoors Oneonta Falls, Oregon
Windsurfing Capitol of the World
After leaving Hood River we decided to get off the main road and explore the historic Columbia River Highway.  This route has been nicknamed the “King of the Roads” because of its waterfalls, gorges and panoramic views of the Columbia River.  We usually prefer to avoid the busy tourist attractions, but we could not resist a stop at Oneonta Falls.

The parking lots were full and we laughed as we joined countless others trekking to the falls.  We were fully expecting a “sanitized” and “controlled” hike…..marked trails, paved walkways, boardwalks, railings, fenced viewpoints.  To our delight, the walk was anything but paved!  We descended a few stairs into the gorge and then Mother Nature took over.  Mossy tree limbs and deep green ferns lined the canyon.  The river was the trail!

Discover Outdoors Oneonta Falls, Oregon
The Gorge at Oneonta Falls

Discover Outdoors Oneonta Falls, Oregon
Ferns and Moss line the route

Before we knew it we were wading upstream.  We rounded a bend and came across a big log jam.  Dozens of people were attempting to climb the logs in their quest to view the falls.  It was like a pilgrimage!  Young and old alike assisted each other over the slippery logs – nothing like a good ol’ log jam to bring folk together.

Discover Outdoors Oneonta Falls, Oregon
Can't go round it...gotta go over it!

Discover Outdoors Oneonta Falls, Oregon
Oneonta's version of Walk the Plank

After successfully negotiating the climb, we found ourselves at a deep pool.  Before we knew it, we had joined the masses and were chest deep in the water pushing forward to the falls.  We finally arrived at the base of the falls, cold, wet and exhilarated!  It was there we met Dave.

What a character!  Dave was huge!  He loomed over six feet tall and was easily 250 pounds.  Picture an offensive lineman from your favourite NFL team….that’s Dave!  What made Dave extra special was his leadership style.  One of my favourite leadership videos is called First Follower:  Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Guy.  It is the story of how a lone nut attracts a second follower and before you know it a movement is created.  Watch the video….it will make more sense!

Well, Dave and his buddy created a movement.  Rob and I watched in amazement as hiker after hiker jumped in to the deep waters below the falls.  Led by Dave, the crowd cheered each and every swimmer on!  Under Dave’s supervision, not a single hiker left the gorge that day without taking the plunge! It was FANTASTIC and yes, we are card carrying members of Dave’s Go for a Swim Club!

Discover Outdoors Oneonta Falls, Oregon
In Over our Heads
 Giggle of the day:

Do you remember Dave, the offensive lineman who led the group swim at the falls?  As we were making our way back out of the gorge, we bumped into Dave at the log jam.  Rob and I were perched precariously on the logs inching our way forward, when all of a sudden Dave commanded us to STOP.   This huge, hulk of a man had spotted a frog.  Dave beckoned Rob over to snap a picture and then took control of the hikers.  He positioned himself above the frog and began directing traffic.  The image of this gentle giant dangling from a tree in an attempt to protect a tiny frog is something we will never forget.  Giant Dave – King of the Frogs and Master of the Falls!

Discover Outdoors Oneonta Falls, Oregon
Apologies for the blurry picture....Under Dave's direction, Rob was literally hanging almost upside down to get the shot

Map and Route Tips:

Things to do and see - The Columbia River Gorge

Hood River

#iloveoregon #traveloregon #hike #windsurf #pnw #discoveroutdoors #waterfalls

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ride the Rim 2015 - Cycling Crater Lake National Park - Oregon

Ride the Rim 2015 - Cycling Crater Lake National Park - Oregon

Envision a volcanic caldera formed over 7,700 years ago.  Nestled in this caldera is a lake so spectacular it leaves you speechless.  Now picture the deepest, prettiest colour of blue that you can imagine.  Add old growth forests, snow-capped peaks and open meadows blanketing the volcano’s outer slopes.  THAT is Crater Lake, one of Oregon’s natural wonders.  Located in Crater Lake National Park, the area is a mecca for tourists and outdoor enthusiasts alike.  From sightseeing to back country hiking, skiing and camping, there are many activities to keep visitors busy.

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
Wizard Island
We were drawn to the Park to participate in Ride the Rim, one of Crater Lake’s vehicle-free days.  During the event motorized traffic is excluded along East Rim Drive.  Cyclists, walkers, joggers and hikers are invited to share the scenic byway.  It was an incredible opportunity to experience the crater and we were thrilled to be taking part!

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
Panoramic View from East Rim Drive

I am sure cyclists around the world would agree that nothing beats a car free ride.  Whether it be a trail, special event or early morning outing the sheer joy of riding alone on the road, without the fear of being run over or the smell of exhaust is something to be treasured.  What struck us most about the ride was the beauty and the silence.  At first it seemed surreal, almost eerie, to be cycling side by side along the rim of a crater in total silence, but we quickly became accustomed to it.  We felt even more connected to the natural beauty of the area.  A once in a lifetime experience, for sure!

Our day began early.  We packed up the camp stove, oatmeal and coffee and enjoyed a sunrise breakfast on the rim of the crater.  We ate in silence as we watched the morning light hit Wizard Island, which in fact is a volcano inside a volcano.  Unbelievable!

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
You can't beat the view 
Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
Wizard Island is a volcano in a volcano

Fueled by breaky and inspired by the scenery, we decided it was time to hop on the bikes.  To say the ride was physically demanding would be an understatement.  The route is 33 miles long and we would argue there is not an inch of “flat” on the entire route.  You are either grinding and mashing your way up or screaming downhill at speeds that make most cyclists (apart from the Young Stuff and Road Warriors) nervous.  Fortunately, the route features thirty overlooks and pull-outs, and we stopped at each and every one of them!  We giggled as we read the route description, “cyclists unaccustomed to high altitudes may find that the elevation makes breathing difficult.”  Although we climbed to 7,700 feet, I would suggest it was the long, steep climbs that made breathing “difficult.”

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
North Junction Parking Area at 7,025 feet

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
Rock walls line this section of the route
Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
The water is a deep, deep blue colour

We were excited to see a huge cross section of people, all ages, all shapes, sizes and fitness levels participating in the ride.  It was a festive day and we were amazed at the many different styles of bikes we saw:

Racing bikes
Mountain bikes
Touring bikes
Trail a Bike
Electric bikes
Recumbent bikes
Hand Pedal bikes

Volunteers manned rest stops along the route and provided water, snacks and encouragement to the riders.  There was a sense of camaraderie amongst the participants and we enjoyed sharing stories and laughs at the look-outs and rest stops.

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
Approaching the Mount Scott Rest Stop

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
Riders break up the climb and enjoy the views

Unfortunately, my day ended on a low.  I lost the mental game and I think it will haunt me until we return to Ride the Rim again.  We descended from the Dutton Ridge rest stop to the Park Headquarters.  As we approached the gate, volunteers cheered us on and directed us to the bike shuttles.  I was thrilled!  What a sense of accomplishment.  It was then that Rob pointed out our car was parked at Rim Village and that we needed to keep going.  I felt a deep sense of despair as we began to cycle up West Rim Drive.  The climb was quite steep and this stretch of road was open to vehicles.  After a wonderful car free day it felt quite overwhelming to me to be cycling in traffic.  I battled for a couple of miles, and then I QUIT.  I never QUIT!  I can’t believe that I QUIT! Rob looked at me in disbelief, but wisely decided not to argue with me.  I turned back to wait at the shuttle point and Rob rode alone to retrieve the car.  As soon as he was out of sight, I regretted my decision.  I debated trying to get back on the bike, but I simply didn’t have the mental or physical strength.  It was a great lesson in mind over matter and I vow to return to complete the ride…..because despite the end to my day, this was one of the most beautiful, challenging and unique day trips we have ever done.

Crater Lake captured our hearts!

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
Phantom Ship - resembles a small sailboat

Thanks to the event organizers, sponsors and incredible volunteers and kudos to those who imagined a car free day on the Rim.  We can’t think of a better way to experience Crater Lake!

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
Thank you Ride the Rim 2015

Giggle of the Day:

From Mount Hood to the coast, Oregon is one of our favourite States to visit!  Magnificent beaches, lush forests and friendly folk make it a hot spot for outdoor adventures.  We would be remiss to point out that Oregon also has a reputation for its “hippie” culture and it was Oregonian hippies who provided us with our giggle of the day.  We crossed the border into Oregon, made our way over the Columbia River and successfully navigated through Portland when we decided to pull in to a rest stop and stretch our legs.  As we approached the parking lot we spotted this custom ride…..complete with motivational quotes and a chicken coop on the roof.  Welcome to Oregon!

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
Here we go...again!

Map and Route Tips:

Travel Oregon created a wonderful promo campaign featuring the 7 Natural Wonders of Oregon.  Take a peek at their video, and then book your vacation.

Crater Lake National Park has two motels and two campgrounds.  Reservations are recommended and can be made in advance.  We pitched our tent at Mazama Campground.  Check out the Lodging and Camping Brochure.

Ride the Rim 2015 Cycle East Rim Drive Crater Lake Oregon
Campsite at Mazama Campground

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Do you know these trails?

Do you know these trails?
Exploring Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, Surrey BC

The bright September sunshine poured through my office window as I tried to focus my attention on my work task list.  Bills, invoices and spreadsheets called out to me, yet I could not pass up the opportunity for an "outdoor break" to celebrate this glorious fall day.  Being short on time, I decided on a brisk walk in the neighbourhood.

True confession time - Rob and I are extremely spoiled.  We live within a hop, step and a jump of Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, one of the City of Surrey's true gems.  This area was one of the first designated urban forests in Canada and is one of Surrey's largest parks.

Can you imagine an urban forest at your fingertips?  Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest Park is a 130 hectare natural second growth forest.  Douglas Fir, Vine Maple and Huckleberry bushes line the trails which are home to banana slugs, spotted towhees and the occasional black tailed deer.  If you look closely you can see a few stumps, remnants of the logging that took place in the early 1900's.  These stumps are now nurse stumps and support all kinds of new growth.

On this particular day, I was taking my time, strolling along Chickadee Loop when a couple approached me.  They were completely lost and attempting to make their way back to their car.  They asked me if I knew the trails.  Of course I was happy to help and confidently pointed them in the direction of the parking lot.

Did I know these trails?  The memories began to flood in.  As I continued walking, I began to reflect on how well I actually did know the trails and more importantly the joy the urban forest has brought our family.

We have been exploring Sunnyside Acres for over 23 years!  In the beginning, when our children were toddlers, our visits to the park were like expeditions.  We equipped ourselves with rain gear, sunhats, sunscreen, strollers (now called infant transportation systems) and of course SNACKS!  It would take us almost a full day to complete the 4 km loop!  We would stop to examine every slug, snail and tree stump that lay before us.

Our family, like the forest, grew and changed.  We transitioned from strollers and tricycles to running shoes and bicycles.  Our speed to complete the loop increased dramatically, yet each and every one of us still finds a sense of peace and calm when visiting the trails to stroll, walk, ride or run.

Over the years, we have participated in many community habitat restoration events in the park.  As a family we feel a sense of ownership, connectedness, pride and protectiveness for this very special place.  And so, YES - I DO know these trails and I sincerely hope many more families will come to appreciate them the way we do!

Giggle of the Day:

There is a downhill section of the trail that twists and turns as you gradually descend.  Looking at the terrain now, it does not seem like much, but 20 years ago it seemed quite steep.  At the time, our son would insist on riding his tricycle along this section of trail.  I could barely watch as he would remove his hands from the handlebars and take his feet off the peddles.  He would scream with glee as he barrelled along the trail.  I would shut my eyes, hold my breath and wait for either the sounds of a crash or the joyful sound of another successful ride.  I caught up to him after one particularly fast descent, and he looked up at me and exclaimed, "MOM - wouldn't it be great if the whole world was downhill!"

Map and Route Tips:

Thank you to the City of Surrey, the dedicated volunteers who make up the Sunnyside Acres Heritage Society and to those trailblazers in 1988 who asked the community "Do you want this area to be preserved?"

Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest Trail Map

Parking is available in a designated area - enter off 24th Ave.

And...check out this video featuring sounds from some of my favourite green spaces in Surrey.  EcoMUSICology & Surrey's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

#truesurrey #explorebc #surreybc #family #discoveroutdoors #getoutside

Friday, September 4, 2015

I am the Weakest Link

I am the Weakest Link

As a fall chill begins to hit the air, and the September Labour Day long weekend approaches, I find myself reflecting on the summer.  The days have gone all too quickly, with so many trips and adventures still on the wish list!  This has been a monumental summer for us in many ways.  We have watched our “flock of baby birds” with awe, pride and sometimes a sense of terror and foreboding as they have embarked on their own adventures.

Discover Outdoors
Family Kayak Trip - Sechelt 
It seems like yesterday we were packing diapers, soothers, stuffies and SNACKS into our back packs – (essential survival items for outdoor travel with toddlers).   Now, we find ourselves anxiously awaiting trip reports and news from our adult children as they cycle to Mexico, paddle the waters of BC and guide in the unpredictable waters of the Hecate Strait, off Haida Gwaii.

Discover Outdoors
Bunny Boyz arrive at the border to Mexico

Discover Outdoors
Adam leads a Ridge Wilderness Group in a Moving Water Canoe Course

Discover Outdoors
Emma strolls the beach during a Moresby Explorers Tour

Rob and I feel such a sense of pride as we watch Ian, Adam and Emma embrace the outdoors and challenge themselves to take risks and seek adventure.  However, it has become abundantly clear that I am now the weakest link.  In all honesty, I have probably been the weakest link for quite a long time, but it was this summer that it became obvious - even to me!  I began to notice everyone asking if I was all right, if I needed help.  While I am comforted by the fact that my family cares about me, it is quite unsettling to realize that I am the one that is slowing the pace of the group, and the one that the group worries about most.

Our style of out tripping has definitely evolved from those early years.  We are no longer about the speeds and distance or the weight of the pack.  And yes, it is a little harder to roll out of that sleeping bag on a cold and rainy morning, but at the risk of sounding cliché, we are taking time to smell the roses.  So, as we begin to plan our next trip, we may shorten our mileage, walk a few hills and accept help when offered. 

San Juan Islands Kayaking
San Juan Islands

San Juan Islands Kayaking
Rob sets up camp

YES - I am the Weakest Link….. and I think I love my new role!  Now, could someone please help me with this heavy pack?

Hiking Mount Baker
I am the Weakest Link

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Boy and a Girl in a little Canoe - A Weekend with Ridge Wilderness

OK - how about two "old farts" in a little canoe?

A fabulous weekend on the Chilliwack River with Ridge Wilderness

I remember EXACTLY when I fell in love with paddling.  I was in High School (seems like a hundred years ago) and our wonderful team of teachers coordinated an Outdoor Club for the student body.  One of our many adventures took us on a week-long paddling out-trip to Algonquin Park in Northern Ontario.  I was hooked!  I loved everything...the paddling, the lakes, the back-country camping, night skies, campfires with friends, the peace, quiet and the opportunity to connect to nature.  To this day I think of those very special teachers and the impact they had on my life.  I am grateful. I am also thankful that Rob shares my love of the outdoors and that we continue to bike, hike and paddle as a family.

When Rob and I moved from the prairies to the west coast we were captivated by the ocean and made the transition from canoes to sea kayaks.  I apologize to all canoe purists, as I know they will be horrified and appalled at the thought of transitioning from canoeing to kayaking.  It has been a good move for us.  However, this past weekend, we had the opportunity to return to the river and register in a Moving Water Canoe course with Ridge Wilderness, a fantastic outdoor adventure company based in B.C.  Our trip was led by our very own pride and joy - our son Adam!   It was a little surreal to be in Adam's class - as it seems like only yesterday we were bundling up the kids to take them on their first canoe trip.  Adam quickly proved himself to be an exceptional teacher and guide.  Of course, I am biased!  Moms are allowed to be!

Who would have thought the "monkey in the middle" would be guiding Canoe Courses?

Adam demonstrates

Our day began in a small parking lot adjacent to the Chilliwack River.  As our group gathered, we made introductions and learned a little bit about each other.  We were joined by two wonderful ladies from Squamish.  If you live in BC, you know that "Squamish Girls" don't mess around.  They are usually hard core, fit, athletic outdoor enthusiasts.  Well, Josie and Sasha were poster girls for the "Squamish Girl" stereotype.  Josie was taking the course to improve her moving water paddling skills as she was about to embark on a three week trip in the Yukon, and Sasha was there to learn about moving water because she is heading to the Grand Canyon in October.  Rob and I were there because we thought it might be fun!

Thumbs Up...let the day begin!

Feeling a little intimidated by the sheer, raw athletic ability of the group, Rob and I looked at each other, shrugged, picked up our canoe and began the portage to the put in spot.  It seemed the only prudent thing to do.  Before we knew it we were on the water and the day had begun.  Adam led a wonderful introduction to the skills we would need on the river.  We learned to draw, pry, sweep and J....he teased us a little about our "Ontario Lake J" strokes.  Old habits die hard!  We laughed at our different learning styles.  I was content to simply hold my paddle and lean as per Adam's instructions but Rob's analytic mind needed to think about fluid dynamics, paddle angles, the whys and the hows.  Thankfully, Adam skillfully taught the strokes in ways we could both understand.

The second day of the course took us higher up the river looking for bigger water to practice on.  What a wonderful day!  We played in the eddies, working on our turns and our forward and backward ferries.  We learned a lot about reading the river and the many hazards that might await.

Adam teaching us to the read the river

 Sasha and Josie mastered the skills quickly and quite effortlessly.  Rob and I were not quite as skilled, although we did surpass the group in one area.  We mastered the eddy out - get out - and bail out.  We seemed to have perfected the ability to take on a lot of water - even in a river with relatively low water levels!

Josie and Sasha show us how.
We got this!

Adam worked extremely hard at finding something positive to say about our paddling skills.  He was very impressed at our willingness to lean as we attempted our eddie turns.  He teased the Squamish girls that we were leaning more than they were.  Although I would like to accept the compliment, I would suggest that we had at least a hundred pounds on those girls, and it was simply a question of MASS!

On day two, we were on a faster section of the river and Adam was demonstrating a jet ferry.  With one smooth stroke he angled his canoe and effortlessly moved or "jetted" across the water.  He was actually able to hold his paddle out of the water and spin it in the air.  I noticed that his dry bag was open and the straps were actually dragging in the water.  I was reminded of a power skating instructor from yesteryear.  This kid was so good that he could teach an entire power skating class without even tying up his skates!  I suppose Adam wasn't even worried about his gear, because he knew he would not tip.  Of course, seeing the dry bag open and straps in the water bugged me and I had to point it out.  He gave me a huge smile and said, "I knew that would get you Mom!"

...just like this!

The day went all too quickly as we worked on our skills and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the river.  As we ate lunch, I silently wondered if Adam and the other great guides at Ridge Wilderness knew that they might be the ones to turn a young kid on to paddling and the outdoors, as my high school teachers had done many years ago.  I hope they understand and value the potential impact they may have on a youngster....who knows, one day they may be taking a class from one of their former students.

Giggle of the day:

On one of our many eddie turns, we managed to completely fill our canoe with water.  We are not sure exactly where we went wrong, but our boat was full, absolutely, positively FULL.  Thankfully, we had a float bag in the canoe enabling us to stay upright (although it was not pretty).  The canoe was incredibly unstable.  With each tentative paddle stroke the water in the boat would move and our centre of gravity would shift dramatically.  We were sure that a swim was in our future.  To the disbelief of our group we managed to ferry back across the river without dumping! We arrived at shore just in time to get out and empty the water out of our canoe.  I think we left our guide speechless...... all Adam could say was, "What are you guys doing?"  I wish we knew!

Why is there so much water in the canoe?

Map and Route tips:

Ridge Wilderness offers a wide variety of lessons, courses, and first aid instruction.  They provide programs for groups from 1 person - 250 people and from 1 hour to 6 days.  Whether you are interested in a tandem canoe or a trip in a historic Voyageur Canoe - these guys can make it happen!

Thanks Ridge Wilderness....Bowron Lakes next?

#canoe #paddle #discoveroutdoors #pnw #explorebc #chilliwack #fraservalley #paddlecanada

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Paddle Ross Lake - the North Cascades are Calling!

June in the Pacific Northwest can often be dull and rainy or at best a mixed bag of tricks, so when we saw the weather forecast for a weekend heat wave we knew we had to jump at the chance to paddle.  We decided to look for a new lake to explore and with the help of Google we came across Ross Lake in the North Cascades.

Jagged peaks in the North Cascades National Recreation area
Jagged peaks of the North Cascades
There are 19 boat access back country campgrounds along Ross Lake.  Can you imagine? We felt like kids in a candy store.  Although they are called back country sites, they are well maintained and fully equipped with pit toilets, fire rings, picnic tables and bear caches.  The outhouses were even stocked with toilet paper.  Talk about luxury travel!  And just when you think it can't get any better...the campsites are FREE.  Visitors are simply asked to register and pick up a back country permit before heading into the park.

The only road access to Ross Lake is via Canada.  Leaving Hope you follow the Silver-Skagit road, a gravel access road, and wind your way along the Skagit River towards the Hozomeen Ranger Station.  The road is an old gravel, logging road but in good condition.  After a few km you arrive without any pomp or circumstance at the border to the US of A. 

International Boundary Sign - North Cascades National Park
Where do you scan your Nexus card?
A small A frame cabin serves as the Ranger Station and visitors are required to check in and pick up back country camping permits before entering the recreation area.  We had the pleasure of meeting Park Ranger Jeff.  What a great guy!  Clearly he loved his job and was thrilled to share his considerable knowledge of the park with us.  You can't beat local knowledge, so of course we asked for his recommendation on a campsite.  Although the campsites are all wonderful, he suggested the Lodgepole site...and we were not disappointed. 

Hozomeen Ranger Station - North Cascades National Park
Hozomeen Ranger Station - Jeff's Office

We did laugh, as when describing the Lodgepole campsite he said there were a stand of Lodgepole pine trees that looked much different than the rest of the trees.  He told us there was absolutely no way we could miss the campsite.  Famous last words?  After paddling 17km along the heavily treed shoreline we came to the conclusion that for a Forestry Major and Park Ranger, the trees may look distinctive, but for us city folk, it ain't quite as clear.

Campsite in Ross Lake National Recreation Area

We were in shock and awe for the entire paddle!  We only saw one other canoe and 2 power boats on the entire lake.  The campsites were deserted and we found ourselves alone in paradise!  The lake is spectacular...clear water, majestic forests and views of snow-capped mountains and glaciers.  The National Park Service website claims that the area features over 300 glaciers and countless snowfields, and is  is one of the snowiest places on earth and the most heavily glaciated area in the United States outside of Alaska.  

View of the Glacier - Ross Lake National Recreation Area
The Glacier beckons

Come July, this lake is known to be a fisherman's paradise.  We saw fish by the thousands, or maybe millions, swimming along under our boats as we paddled.  Not quite the size fisherman are seeking, but we enjoyed watching them dart in and out of the rocks.

Fishing in Ross Lake National Recreation Area
Underwater shot - fish by the millions

The final push to the campsite became quite challenging, as true to form the afternoon winds picked up and we found ourselves in a bit of battle against Mother Nature.  We eventually found the Lodgepole site and enjoyed a stunning sunset and star filled evening.

Boat Accessible Campsites Ross Lake National Recreation Area
Rob stores the food in the bear cache

Boat Accessible Campsites Ross Lake National Recreation Area
Lake front view lot

Wildlife Viewing Ross Lake National Recreation Area
Morning visitor

We woke with the sun and were greeted by the deer, who were out for an early morning nibble.  Conditions looked perfect, so we crawled out of the tent, enjoyed a lake front breakfast and jumped in our kayaks.  Once again we were treated to calm glass!  We decided to cross to the western edge of the lake and begin our paddle back.  We were not disappointed as we were treated to a series of waterfalls, each one more majestic than the last.

Waterfall in Ross Lake National Recreation Area
Just one of many waterfalls

It was a sensory experience as we neared the falls.  We were greeted by the sound of the cascading water.  As we drew closer, the temperature dropped and we were soaked by the mist coming off the falls.  It was a welcome relief to the heat of the day and a sight that took our breath away.

kayaking in Ross Lake National Recreation Area
Time for a swim!

We ended our trip with a swim in the lake and a promise to return....after all there are still 18 campsites waiting for us.

Giggle of the day:

We rounded the point and began to approach the Lighting Creek campsite when we noticed a full moon rising...and yes - it was broad daylight.  Another camper, also enjoying the solitude of the lake, took the opportunity to skinny dip.  We happened upon him in all his glory.  What could he do but smile and give us a wave.  We waved back!  As we stated earlier, the views in this Recreation Area are second to none.

Map and route tips:

Ross Lake is a reservoir with unpredictable water levels.  Winds can be strong, so it is best to get an early start when the winds are usually calmer.

Park Map

The eastern shoreline is better suited for inexperienced paddlers, as there are numerous take out points should the winds pick up and you find yourself in need of a rest.

Don't have a boat...but would still like to experience camping in the back country at Ross Lake?  The Ross Lake resort offers a water taxi drop off and pick up from any of the trail heads on the lake.

Getting There from Hope . .

#pnw #kayak #canoe #northcascades #rosslake #discoveroutdoors #unplugandplay #neckykayak