AZT – Boxes, Boxes, and More Boxes

I finally arrived in Arizona earlier this week and have been packing like crazy for my thru-hike on the Arizona Trail.  I arrived at my aunts’ house to a pile of various packages (most of them from Amazon.)

Packages piled up for AZT re-supply boxes.

It took a few days, but I have turned the pile into 10 neatly organized and packed re-supply boxes ready to be shipped and delivered throughout the state.

AZT re-supply boxes almost completed.

I had the pleasure of hand delivering one box to an old friend yesterday while visiting Jerome, AZ.  It was a nice break from all the madness that comes from prepping for a long distance hike. I spent the afternoon having good conversation, and even managed to squeeze in a short hike.  This afternoon I will be shipping my first two boxes – one to Colossal Cave Mountain Park, and one to The General Kearny Inn.  This is all starting to get very real!

The first two re-supply boxes to go in the mail.

This is my first of many blog posts from my iPhone 6s. With limited resources during my adventure, and I’m sure as hell not carrying a laptop with me, I’ll be using my phone to blog along the way.  Next Monday, March 27 is go time!  I can’t wait for the journey that lies ahead.  Happy trails!

Planning my First Thru-hike: The Arizona Trail

AZT guide book

Your Complete Guide to the Arizona National Scenic Trail by Matthew J. Nelson

I am so excited, nervous, eager, anxious, scared, and happy to announce that I’m planning to thru-hike the Arizona Trail (AZT) this year!  I have all the feels right now about this journey I’m about to take.  The AZT is a roughly 800 mile pedestrian, biker, and equestrian trail that runs from the border of Mexico to Utah through the state of Arizona.  I plan to hike the entire length of the trail South to North starting from the Mexican border on March 27, 2017.  As you can imagine, this is going to be a daunting task.

Since our move to Washington over four years ago, my husband and I have found our place in a wonderful circle of new friends.  That circle includes many adventurous people with goals and accomplishments I didn’t even know existed, much less thought were possible.  I’m so thankful to be surrounded by so many like minded individuals who have encouraged me to reach higher than I thought I ever could.  When I combine my old friends with these new ones, it creates a tribe like no other!  With the support of my friends and family, I feel confident that in early June I will walk in Utah on my own two feet.

As I prepare for this journey across Arizona, I am going to be using my blog as a platform to discuss all things AZT!  This means the format of my blog may change a bit, but will still focus on photography during my hiking and backpacking adventures.  Only now my hikes will be expanded outside of the PNW.  I hope my followers appreciate the changes I make along the way, and continue to support TamarasCameras.

Since making the decision to hike the AZT and sharing my plan with friends and family, I have received many different responses.  I am asking that people please refrain from using the following phrases:

  1.  “You’re such a bad-ass!” – While I really enjoying being called a bad-ass, I haven’t done anything bad-assery yet.  At this point I have spent way too much money on backpacking gear, sat in front of the computer and AZT guide book for way too many hours, and ignored the basic duties of a housewife leaving piles of dishes and laundry throughout the apartment.  These things do not give me the title of bad-ass.
  2. “I’m so proud of you.” – Including all of the reasons above, there is nothing to be proud of yet.  If I do make those steps into Utah after walking 800 miles, I’ll let that be a moment of pride.  Until then, just wish me luck.
  3. “You’re crazy!” – Ok, this one is true.

I look forward to sharing my adventures with you as I trek across the Arizona desert this spring.  Forgive me as I fumble through the process of planning for and attempting my first thru-hike.  I have sooooooo many things to learn, and look forward to any and all positive criticisms and advice shared.  Happy trails!

Guthook app

Guthook Hikes app – Arizona Trail screenshot

Garibaldi Provincial Park Wilderness Backpacking

3 days, 2 nights / 17.8 miles / 5650′ elevation gain

Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Day one:  Rubble Creek Trailhead to Garibaldi Lake

5.5 miles / 2950′ elevation gain

After spending a week in Whistler Village my husband and I were excited to head into the wilderness for a few nights.  We had spent the last few days soaked by the pouring rains during our vacation in Whistler, but had made the best of the situation enjoying mountain biking, hiking and running.  Although the weather forecast was showing one final day of rain for our hike into Garibaldi Provincial Park, the remaining days looked promising with sunshine and mild temperatures.  All we had to do was make it through one hike in the rain, and the rest of the days would be high and dry.  After unloading all of our luggage and bikes into a local storage unit for the next few days, we arrived at the Rubble Creek trailhead around noon.  The parking lot was half full and only a few other backpackers were preparing for their journey into the wet wilderness.  We sat in the car looking over the map and eating our lunch mentally preparing ourselves for the climb up to Garibaldi Lake in the cold, pouring rain.

The two of us had procrastinated enough, and it was time to hit the trail.  With our bodies and packs protected with wet weather gear, we started our journey upwards towards Garibaldi Lake.  The trail instantly starts to climb upwards and never stops climbing!  It wasn’t long before our hearts were racing and our bodies were warmed.  This is where I made my first mistake.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am very comfortable hiking in the rain.  I was happy to shed my layers and let the rain cool me off as I trekked along.  As the rain slowed and eventually stopped, my gear was drying up and things were looking up.  It was a nice hike and we were practically alone the entire way.  It wasn’t long before the rain came back, and began to soak everything once again.  I knew we were closing in on Garibaldi Lake, so I mistakenly opted to continue to hike without the protection of my rain gear.  By the time we arrived at the backpackers campground, we were soaked.  Because I had chosen to hike without the protection of my wet weather gear, my clothes and hair were drenched.  We were happy to learn that shelters were provided for cooking and storing food, allowing us a dry location to rest before setting up camp.  As we laid our clothes and gear out to dry we enjoyed friendly conversation with a fellow backpacker and her two children.  We waited out the rain while we warmed our bodies with hot tea and cocoa.  The clouds parted just long enough for us to pick out a site and set up our tent.  It wasn’t long before the rain returned so we rushed back to the warmth of the dry shelter to cook dinner in hopes that the rain would dissipate once and for all as forecasted.  As we enjoyed our dehydrated meals we noticed that it was no longer raining – the rain had turned to ice and snow!  While it was a beautiful sight, my husband and I knew we were in for a long, cold and wet night in the wilderness.  I grabbed my camera and rushed outside to capture the beauty of the snow falling onto the lake.  That was the moment I realized my second mistake – I didn’t put a memory card in my camera!  I quickly snapped two photos with my iPhone 4s; therefore, all of the photos in this blog were taken with my cell phone.

A light snow dusting over Panorama Ridge and Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

A light snow dusting over Panorama Ridge and Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Icicles hang from a shelter at Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Icicles hang from a shelter at Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

As we climbed into our tent before dark, I was thankful that we had invested in a larger backpacking tent earlier in the year.  After having a mini breakdown about the freezing temperatures and the large rock strategically located just under my sleeping mat, I welcomed sleep even though it was still light outside.  Wearing every layer of clothing I had packed, I crawled into my sleeping bag chilled to the bone.  Needless to say, it was a long, cold night in the wilderness.

Day two:  Garibaldi Lake to Black Tusk returning to Garibaldi Lake

6.8 miles round trip / 2700′ elevation gain

The next morning began with a discussion on whether we could face another cold, sleepless night in the wilderness.  The sun had finally forced its’ way out of the clouds and over the mountain peaks topped with fresh and snow. With our bodies finally warmed from hot coffee and breakfast, it was easier to make the decision to stick it out for one more night.  The excitement of hiking to Black Tusk pushed the memories of the uncomfortable night to the backs of our minds.  As we finished our breakfast, backpackers were pouring into the campground.  Even though we had a rough night, it had allowed us to beat the crowds and secure a nice campsite.  I’m certain the campground was full before noon.  We packed our day pack and hit trail headed to Black Tusk.  The views of the glacier peaked mountains that had been hidden the day before were now in plain site.

Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

The trails instantly begins to climb up and away from the lake towards Taylor Meadows.  It slowly switches back and forth through the canopied forest.  It wasn’t long until we reached the meadows.  The trail flattened and the forest opened up to a mountain peaked background.

Taylor Meadows, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Taylor Meadows, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Once we hiked through the meadows the trail came to a fork with trail marking sign and primitive facilities.  As we took a quick break and chatted with a few hikers I noticed something moving in the distance – a black bear was slowly making its way across the meadows!  I pointed it out to the other hikers and we all enjoyed watching the bear in its natural environment.

A black bear in Taylor Meadows, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

A black bear in Taylor Meadows, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

The chill in the air pushed us to hike on hoping to warm ourselves up.  Once again the trail begins to climb upwards towards Black Tusk becoming slightly steeper at each switchback.  It wasn’t long before the combination of the uphill hike and the sun breaking away from the clouds had us shedding our warmer layers and welcoming a lunch break.  A large boulder field crossing the trail seemed to be a great spot to soak up the warm sun and refuel before the final push to the Black Tusk viewpoint.  We enjoyed the company of curious marmots as we looked onto views of Garibaldi Lake surrounded by mountains.

Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

A marmot along the trail to Black Tusk, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

A marmot along the trail to Black Tusk, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Once the clouds made their way back in front of the sun, it was time to hit the trail and make the final push to view Black Tusk.  As we climbed higher snow was becoming more noticeable along the trailside.  We made our way up the scree field and Black Tusk finally came into view.  It had a fresh covering of snow and so did most of the area surrounding it.  The clouds were were moving very quickly across the sky sometimes making Black Tusk disappear.  We reached the Black Tusk viewpoint with a sign warning us of the end of the maintained trail.  I was happy to soak in the view on stable, snow-free ground as my husband made his way upwards towards Black Tusk following the footprints in the snow from previous adventurers.  The 360° view was truly one of the most spectacular ones I have ever seen including Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge, and Garibaldi Lake.  I spent my time alone enjoying the quiet solitude on what felt like the top of the world.  I enjoyed photographing the surrounding mountains, ever changing from the constant movement of the clouds in the sky.

Garibaldi Provincial Park

Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge, and Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Black Tusk

Black Tusk, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Black Tusk

Black Tusk, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Black Tusk

Black Tusk, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Garibaldi Lake

Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Garibaldi Provincial Park

Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

My husband arrived back at the viewpoint just as I was saying farewell to a pair of hikers from The Netherlands heading up towards Black Tusk themselves.  Our sore feet welcomed the downhill hike as we headed back towards our temporary home at Garibaldi Lake.  It seemed like no time before we arrived back at the campground and we were happy to see the valley filled with sun.  We spent the late afternoon exploring the tiny islands that speckled alongside the Garibaldi Lake shoreline.  The area was packed with backpackers sharing stories of their day’s’ adventures.  Most of them only arrived in the park that morning having missed the unpleasantness of the cold, rainy night before.

Black Tusk

A view of Black tusk from Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Garibaldi Lake

Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

As the sun began to dip behind the mountains to the west of the lake, it wasn’t long before the cold air settled into the valley once again.  We headed to the warmth of the shelter ready to cook our dinner for the evening.  Pushing our way through the crowds of people, we found a small corner of a picnic table available for us to use.  It was interesting listening to the sound bites of the day’s events from the various campers.  While we all had a different story to tell, we each shared a common bond in the adventure of backpacking.  We headed to our tent exhausted from the day’s journey to Black Tusk, and slipped into our sleeping bags before the sun set for a second night.  It was another very cold night in the wilderness.

Day three:  Garibaldi Lake to Rubble Creek trailhead

5.5 miles / 2950′ elevation loss

After two nights of what seemed to be sub freezing temperatures, we woke with the excitement of packing up and heading out of the wilderness.  The packed shelter on the previous night gave us the idea to eat breakfast early in order to beat the crowds to the shelter.  We were the second group to arrive at the shelter and as we prepped our meal for the morning while the shelter slowly filled to capacity.  Just as we were about to leave the shelter, a young couple arrived describing a black bear that was hanging out on the trail towards Panorama Ridge.  They were looking for a park ranger and excitingly explained how the bear would not leave the path of the trail leading the two back to the campground.  We headed back to our campsite to prepare for our journey out of the park excited to think about what may cross our path along the way.  We packed up our tent as another couple was patiently waiting to take our spot.  It was difficult to leave the wilderness behind on such a beautiful, sunny day, but our bodies longed for a warm night in a comfortable bed.

A world that was hidden from us by rain and clouds during the hike in was now fully exposed.  The only thing pouring onto the trail this day was droves of backpackers and day hikers ready to enjoy the holiday weekend.  We passed by Lesser Garibaldi Lake and Barrier Lake this time seeing the deep aquamarine colors reflecting from their surfaces.

Lesser Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canda

Lesser Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

At first we welcomed the downhill hike, but it wasn’t long before our muscles were sore and needed a break.  A sign pointing towards a viewpoint for The Barrier seemed liked a place to stop for a picnic lunch.  The sight was breathtaking as the forest opened up and the trail cliffed out at the edge of The Barrier viewpoint.  It was hard to believe this view was blocked by clouds and rain only two days ago while now the sights were endless in every direction.  As we soaked up the views and the warmth of the sun, very persistent ground squirrels and birds were trying to steal our food.  It was easy to tell that the rules of No Trace Left Behind had been broken and these animals were used to being fed.  At one point a small squirrel ran up my back attempting to reach the food in my hand!   We were surrounded by hungry wildlife and decided it was time to make the final push towards the parking lot.

My husband at The Barrier viewpoint, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

The Barrier viewpoint, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

The Barrier viewpoint, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

The Barrier viewpoint, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

A small squirrell examining my pack at The Barrier viewpoint, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

A small squirrell examining my pack at The Barrier viewpoint, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

A small bird at The Barrier viewpoint, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

A small bird at The Barrier viewpoint, Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC, Canada

The last few miles of downhill trekking were relentless.  As we neared the parking lot with only a few switchbacks ahead of us a day hiker stopped to ask us how far the lake was.  We laughed a little and explained they had a while to go before they arrived at their destination.  Another hiker’s journey was just beginning as ours was just about to end.  We arrived to a very full and crowded parking lot.  As we drove down Daisy Lake Road towards the Sea to Sky Highway the side of the roadway was lined with cars for nearly a mile or more.  We left the Canadian wilderness filled with warm hearts and a lifetime of memories.

Return to the Enchanted Valley – An Overnight Backpacking Trip

2 days, 1 night / 27 miles round trip / 1700′ elevation gain

Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

Last March my husband and I went on our very first wilderness backpacking trip ever.  After reading through several blogs and trip reports, I decided that the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park would be the perfect location for a first time backpacker.  I was mesmerized by images of the chalet almost 14 miles into the Quinault River Valley and determined to see it.  Descriptions of the trail with low elevation gains built my confidence up even though I had never hiked distances farther than 10 miles in my entire life.  We made our way into the valley with our packs stuffed to the brim including items that seemed very essential at the time, carrying over seventy pounds between the two of us.  Needless to say, we never made it to the chalet – we barely made it halfway!  After developing very large blisters on the heels of my feet, I practically crawled into camp at O’Neil Creek only hiking 6.5 miles.  The disappointment of not reaching the chalet  during that first trip has loomed over me for the last year, even though we have made many amazing wilderness backpacking trips since that very first trip into the Enchanted Valley.

As we prepared for the new backpacking season and started to plan our first trip of the year, I knew I had to go back to the Enchanted Valley.  With more experience than ever before, I was more determined to see the chalet even though it would still be the farthest distance I had ever hiked.  This time around I packed with more knowledge of the essential items needed to survive in the wilderness, with my pack weighing only 20 pounds.  I know this is not ultra light backpacking my any means, but for the first time I was confident I was only carrying items I felt were necessary.  Backpacking with a partner makes packing lighter a little easier since we get to divide the items amongst each other.  Thankfully my husband enjoys carrying a heavier weighted pack; therefore, I get to enjoy camping luxuries without the suffering of carrying the weight myself.

With another beautiful forecast for the Pacific Northwest including sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70’s, it was the perfect weekend for our first wilderness backpacking trip of the year.  We woke up early enough to catch the 6:50 am ferry across the Puget Sound headed west towards the Olympic Mountains.  After a three hours drive to the Quinault Forest Ranger Station we self registered and continued to drive almost one more hour down a rough, forest road.  We arrived at Graves Creek campground where trailhead parking is provided just before 12:00 pm.  The parking lot was packed as expected on a beautiful, sunny Saturday in Washington state.  With everything we needed for the next 36 hours loaded onto our backs, we could barely contain our excitement as ours boots hit the trail.

Enchanted Valley trailhead at Graves Creek, Olympic National Park

Enchanted Valley trailhead at Graves Creek, Olympic National Park

Even though this trail has little total elevation gain, do not be fooled!  Right away the trail climbs, and climbs, and climbs some more and instantly had me thinking about my painful blisters from the previous years’ hike.  After that painful experience, I did extensive amounts of research on blisters including how to avoid and treat them.  Although I was educated and prepared, the thought of that agonizing hike loomed in the back of my mind as we made our way alongside the Quinault River.  It wasn’t long before old memories were washed away and replaced with new exciting ones of the Enchanted Valley trail.  The trail winds along the riverside through the Quinault Rainforest.  At times the trail pulls itself away from the river climbing upwards into the mountainside and eventually dips back down into the valley.  Very early in our hike we encountered a large blown down where I chose to maneuver myself and my pack underneath it, while my husband climbed up and over it.  We only had to navigate around a few blown downs during the entire trip, and none of them were too difficult to get around.  It wasn’t long before we arrived at Pony Bridge crossing the Quinault River where we stopped for our first break.  Another group of backpackers were resting nearby and several day hikers were making there way down the trail headed out of the valley.

We left the canyoned river and Pony Bridge behind and continued along the trail towards the Enchanted Valley.  It wasn’t long until we arrived at O’Neil Creek, our halfway point and the point at which I had barely made it to during my first trip.  I felt great!  I had reached this point with ease, and after another quick rest and lunch stop I was excited to continue our hike.  I was ready to see new parts of the wilderness and the thought of finally seeing the chalet filled me with the adrenaline I needed to reach our destination.  After this point we didn’t see many other hikers with the exception of one gentleman who was moving at a similar pace.  We took turns passing each other and exchanging pleasantries as we made our way along the valley floor.  I was certain we must be the last group headed towards the Enchanted Valley and nervous camping spaces would be limited upon our late arrival.  Somewhere around seven to eight miles into our hike we startled a large herd of elk causing them to quickly get up from their resting spots and run into the forest.  A few of the curious animals lingered just alongside the trail observing our movements as we peacefully made our way past them.

P1000935

A herd of elk alongside the Enchanted Valley Trail, Olympic National Park

We stopped for a rest one last time just after nine miles at Pyrites Creek camp, but didn’t stay long with hopes of arriving to camp before the sun set.  The suns’ rays stayed just out of our reach during the rest of hike urging us to move more quickly.  We were stopped by the wildlife once again, this time being a black bear and her cub.  The two animals didn’t seem to notice us, so we made sure to make noise notifying of our presence.  They briefly looked up noticing us as we hiked along, but quickly returned to rummaging for food.  We made sure to keep a safe distance between ourselves and the bears and continued to make plenty of noise until we were out of their sight.

A black bear and her cub, Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

A black bear and her cub, Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

Still filled with the excitement from our encounter with the black bears, the last few miles of the trail seemed to fly by.  Before we knew it, the valley floor opened up before us and the chalet came into view in the distance.  The chalet was a beautiful sight, but the backdrop of the valley walls made the landscape breathtaking!  The trail crosses the river one last time and it became almost impossible to stay on its’ track because I couldn’t take my eyes off the sights in front of me.  The snow capped mountainside had many waterfalls cascading down towards the Quinault River.  The valley floor was speckled with backpackers and their colorful tents and we knew right away we would not have a problem finding a spot to camp.

Enchanted Valley Chalet, Olympic National Park

Enchanted Valley Chalet, Olympic National Park

Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

After over six hours of hiking, we hurriedly picked out a suitable camping spot with an existing fire ring and each of us began working on our individual camp chores.  As I was trying to pick out the best spot for our tent, the farthest distance away from large piles of bear dung, my husband was nearby looking for firewood.  After only a few minutes, he returned to camp empty handed pointing in the direction of a very large black bear less than 50 yards from our campsite.  He decided to look for firewood elsewhere as I decided it didn’t matter where our tent would go – we were sleeping with the bears!  Unfortunately due to time constraints, I was only able to take a mental picture of the wild animal so very close to our camping spot for the evening.  Just as the sun made its’ final appearance and dipped behind the mountains, our camp was set up, water was replenished, and dinner was cooking on the fire.  We were finally resting our aching feet and muscles from the days journey into the Enchanted Valley.  As we ended our evening and climbed into the warmth of our tent, the sounds of cascading waterfalls and the meandering river lulled us to sleep.

In spite of the nearly freezing temperatures overnight, we woke up well rested and welcomed one of the best views as we unzipped our tent window.  Everything including our camp chairs were very wet from the morning dew, so we stayed in the tent as long as we could waiting for the sun to reach the valley floor.  We finally crawled out of the tent after packing up all of our belongings inside, and began to make breakfast.  The sun finally reached our campsite as we were finishing up our meal and began to pack up the remainder of our gear.  We left our tent up until the very last minute hoping the sun would dry it off, but it was still slightly damp as rolled it up and stuffed it into its’ bag.  We were the last group to arrive at the Enchanted Valley the previous night, and we were the last ones to hike out at almost noon that day.

Enchanted Valley

Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

After stopping at the chalet for a few more photos we met two hikers who had spent their morning hiking down from Anderson Pass.  We exchanged stories about hiking throughout the Pacific Northwest all agreeing that this wilderness has some of the most breathtaking views we had ever seen.  We left our new friends behind and started our journey back down the meandering Enchanted Valley trail.  The trail crosses many creeks along the way with beautifully crafted bridges and log crossings.  Besides the wildlife we had encountered during our trip, some of the worlds’ largest trees live in this rainforest as well.

Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

As we hiked towards Pyrites Creek once again, we ran into a family that had startled looks on their faces.  They explained to us that they had seen a black bear and her cub only few yards up the trail.  Each one of the bears had separately climbed up a tree nearby, and the family was scanning the rainforest canopy looking for the two animals.  This was the very same area we had seen the two bears on the previous days’ hike.  We continued along the trail keeping our eyes looking upwards in hopes of seeing the black bears one last time, but they never made a second appearance.

Making sure to take good care of my feet, we stopped on occasion to rest along the way.  By the time we reached O’Neil Creek I had a few hot spots that had yet to turn into blisters; therefore, I carefully taped them up and made sure to keep changing into dry socks each time we stopped.  The last two miles seemed to last forever as the trail climbed up and away from the Quinault River one last time.  After 27 miles of hiking in less than 36 hours, we had finally made it to our final destination.  It felt so rewarding knowing that I had just hiked the farthest distance I had ever hiked in my entire life, and with a 20 pound pack on!  I knew this was just the beginning of a very exciting year of backpacking adventures in the Pacific Northwest.

Wildlife Wednesday 04/22/2015

Black bear cub in Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

Black bear cub in the Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

This weekend I finally headed into the wilderness for the first overnight backpacking trip of the year.  I headed back into the Enchanted Valley with my husband by my side once again.  As we made our way along the Quinault River, after nearly ten miles of hiking we noticed a black bear and her cub.  We made sure to keep a safe distance as we continued our hike and made constant noise to alert the bears of our presence.  I snapped a few photographs as the cub curiously looked in our direction.