Back in the Pacific Northwest

Category: Ships Log

August - September 2015

A couple weeks after our trip to Cairns, we were off again on another trip – this time back to Oregon for two and a half weeks.


It has been about a year and half since I was home - the last time was just before we left on our cruise across the Pacific.  We were excited to visit the Pacific Northwest again and see family and friends. We were also excited to see real mountains with glaciers again - the one feature we really miss from living in Australia.


We flew into Portland and spent the first three days with my family, celebrating missed birthdays and seeing old family friends.  Then we hit the road and drove north to the Coast mountains of British Columbia where we were meeting our old crusing friends, David and Michelle from Pelagia.  We first met David and Michelle in San Francisco when we were getting our rigging replaced at the boatyard a couple weeks before our departure. Later we met again at several stops along the Baja Coast as we both made our way to La Paz. We spent 3 months hanging out at Marina Palmira in La Paz together, enjoying whale shark hunting adventures, cruises to the nearby islands and nights out on the town. After we left for Australia, David and Michelle kept Pelagia in Mexico and enjoyed a second season cruising the Sea of Cortez before shipping Pelagia back to Vancouver, B.C. just a couple months ago. Garibaldi Provincial Park is the backyard of David and Michelle now and when we mentioned we were looking for some mountains to go backpacking in, they knew just the place to go.


Our destination was the Cheakamus Lake trailhead; our plan was to ascend through old growth forest to the high alpine meadows where we would hang out for a couple days, doing side trips up nearby mountains until we reached Garibaldi Lake where we would again descend through old growth forest to our waiting 2nd car on the fourth day. The trip did not disappoint. It was magical climbing past the massive Douglas fir and cedar trees decorated with mosses and lichens, seeing sword fern, bunchberry, devils’ club, thimbleberry, and huckleberry carpeting the forest floor, and breathing in the moist organic scent of the forest. I grew up hiking in similar forests in Oregon and it felt great hiking in familiar terrain again. When we finally emerged from the forest into the alpine environment, rugged granite peaks rose up from the grassy meadows and seemed close enough to summit in a few hours. It was exactly the alpine scenery we missed so much! Our first night we set up camp at Helm’s Creek and enjoyed a spectacular sunset with a mountain called Black Tusk in the foreground. The next day we hiked across the meadows, around some alpine lakes and up Panorama ridge where we enjoyed stunning views of Garibaldi Lake and the surrounding glaciated mountains. On the ridge, some fellow hikers told us the forecasts were predicting rain for the night, so instead of hiking to Garibaldi Lake and setting up camp, we opted instead to camp at Taylor meadows (another set of alpine meadows) where there was a covered picnic shelter available for cooking. Sure enough, our clear weather came to an end that night and we woke up to pouring rain the next morning. The area hadn’t received any real rain in over 3 months, so it was good that it came, but it would have been nice if it could have held off an extra day or so. :) The rain was predicted to let up later that morning, but would return the next day and continue to rain then for almost a week. We made the decision to pack out a day early since the mountains were now obscured by clouds and it seemed a nicer option to hike out in less wet weather. We enjoyed a relatively dry hike out, making a brief stop to view the impressive lava wall called “The Barrier” on the west side of Garibaldi Lake. David explained that it was formed during a large lava flow thousands of years ago. At the time of the eruption, the valley was filled with glaciers, which stopped the lava flow by cooling it. When the glaciers melted, the ice-cooled lava had formed a high cliff, which acted as a dam for the water pooling behind it, now known as Garibaldi Lake. The scary thing is that the lava wall is slowly crumbling and geologists believe it is possible a big earthquake could cause the barrier to come down, letting out the water from Garibaldi Lake. Glad we got to see the lake while it is still there!


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The before picture. Starting at the Cheakamus Lake trailhead on a gorgeous sunny day.


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Cheakamus Lake - we did a quick side trip here on our way to Helm's Creek.


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Hiking in the beautiful old growth forest on our way up to the mountain meadows.


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Our first night's campsite at Helm's Creek. The Black Tusk is behind us.


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A marmot along the trail. This one did a good job of fattening up for the winter!


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Hiking through alpine meadows and past high altitude lakes. We sure missed this!


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More beautiful mountain scenery.


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The view of Garibaldi Lake from Panorama Ridge.


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Group shot on the Ridge.  BTW, I must confess, David and Michelle kicked our butts climbing in the mountains. We need to get out hiking more so we can keep up with them next time (though in our defense, David and Michelle are not into taking many photos :))!


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Lunch break and afternoon siesta.


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More beautiful scenery and even some fireweed still blooming.


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We encountered a black bear on our way to our 2nd campsite, though he/she was very intent on foraging and paid us no notice.


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At the Barrier, which is the massive rock dam behind us holding back the water from Garibaldi Lake.


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After picture. Enjoying pizza and burgers at the brew pub in Whistler after our trip!


Returning to David and Michelle’s after our backpacking trip, we spent a day hanging out around the Whistler area and then started the long drive back to Portland. On our way down, we broke up our trip by stopping in Seattle to have dinner with some old college friends.


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Checking out the marina in Squamish, B.C.


Back in Portland, we spent our last week and a half hanging out with friends and family. We enjoyed great barbeques with family including fabulous homemade lemonade made by my youngest niece. It’s only been a year and a half since we were here last, but my eldest two nieces have skyrocketed in height and turned into lovely young ladies in our absence. Several of my friends also had babies or young kids not long before we left; now they are walking, talking toddlers or already in primary school! It’s funny how some things have changed so little and others have changed so much in our absence.


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Enjoying a family barbeque with my nieces.


During this last week Chris and I also managed to do a dive trip to the Hood Canal to check out the temperate rocky reefs. The Hood Canal was incredibly cold (this is where I was originally certified for diving), but it was fun to see its familiar inhabitants again such as rockfish (coppers and chinas), the forests of Metridium anemones, wolf eels, sunflower sea stars and even a moon snail.


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We had a gorgeous day at the Hood Canal at Sund Rock.


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The anemones, Metridium farcimen and a Dungeness crab.


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We also saw a couple wolf eels out in the open. Usually they are hiding in caves, but unfortunately the summer has seen oxygen levels reach very low levels in the Hood Canal and this guy may have left his cave in search of more oxygen. We also saw piles of dead molluscs in the shallows, which is indicative of a large die off in the area.


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A moon snail scavenging for food.


We wrapped up our visit with a family trip to Mt.Hood where we introduced my youngest niece Josie to the chairlifts at Timberline and hiked around the Magic Mile ski area before finishing up with a picnic along the Salmon River in the forest. It was a wonderful visit that went by far too quickly; it was so great to catch up with my family and old friends I hadn’t seen in far too long. That’s the tough part of living in Australia, it is rather far away from everyone!


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Taking the "Magic Mile" chairlift on Timberline with my brother and youngest niece.


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My parents on the chairlift behind us. That is Mt. Jefferson in the background.


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Unfortunately, Mt. Hood remained shrouded in clouds the entire time we were there - this was the best view we got!


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Our picnic spot along the Salmon River. Perfect way to end a great day and a wonderful visit!


Now we are back in Brisbane, with both of us working full time and trying to save some money so we can do more traveling again soon!


Hits: 10433


0 #2 Mala and Dean Laurin 2015-11-02 05:11
Sounds like you had a great time the Pacific northwest. Both of you look great and happy!
0 #1 David & Michelle 2015-10-10 16:38
Great post and photos! We had a great time too! (We've been waiting for your post before posting ours so we can link to yours.)

So you think we don't take photos? Hmmm, well we have several of you guys far below while we waited on top of Panorama Ridge (oh right, you were taking photos

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