Monday, August 8, 2016

Anna in The Wild

The Nature Squad
I spent a little weekend in the wilderness for some rest & relaxation with two of my best friends from college, Anna and Lauren. We chose to hike into Lake Talapus, an easy 1.5 miles into the Snoqualmie National Forest and about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Lauren, first of all, is an avid outdoors woman. Her and I have had multiple backpacking trips together throughout college including a 40-miler around Mt. Rainier, we spotted some bears walking the trails near Ross Lake in the N. Cascades, and hope to hike the Wonderland Trail together before our hairs turn gray. Anna on the other hand, has zero desire to scale mountains, or on the less extreme side of the scale, do much more than glamour car camp. But she was ready for her first trip Into the Wild.

Anna in The Wild
We started the trip in Seattle. I took the morning to drive over from the Tri-Cities to pick them up. We all coincidentally packed our Osprey 65's (the best backpack out there) and were pretty much ready to go by noon. Anna was a little nervous but we reassured her Lake Talapus was great beginner hike with its 1000 foot elevation gain, easy to follow, winding trail through a beautiful evergreen forest.

*On our way to the car*
Anna: Are there going to be barbecues there?
Me: No Anna, there will not be barbecues there. Smh.

Lauren & Jim
Planning and prepping for our trip was almost as fun as being out there. After we all loaded up and jumped into my adventure mobile, The RAV, we headed to Whole Foods to pick out our nature meals. It was a tough choice between Trader Joes or Whole Foods, but who can resist the hot foods bar there? We ended up buying $100 worth of mainly organic fruits and veggies including 5 lbs of the best blueberries I've ever tasted, carrots, strawberries, stir fry veggies, chili, eggs, grits, and cold brewed coffee for the morning. Not the most money efficient shopping trip... But, much health. So yum. Worth it.

We finally made the trailhead around 3pm for a sunny start. We wound our way through the trees and past a creek and Anna was doing great, soaking it all in. A few water breaks and photoshoots in and I'd noticed how much I'd gotten used to a very dry climate over on the east side. I'd really missed these lush forests.. It was incredibly refreshing to be back here and alongside my best friends.

*Near a hollow stump*
Anna: I was thinking.. of all people to get lost in the woods with, I'm pretty much with a wilderness guide and a certified EMT.

We must wash our dishes Anna
We all cracked up laughing because Anna was right. The Cascades are my second home and Lauren was a pre-med grad at UW, finished her cert as an EMT, and is a prospective doctor. Our group was solid. I dubbed us The Nature Squad.

After a quick hour of hiking, we spotted the southern tip of the lake. I was instantly excited, I'd already been here twice before and knew of the best campsite there and the best spot to swim off of. We dropped our stuff, set up my tent and set off in our sports bras for the lake with our cameras and a few beers.

The night went on with laughs and sips of beer with chili for dinner. We played cards over girl talk and took swings from our bottle of Jim Beam. Life was good.

Goooood morning, Washington!
The morning came with a few drops of rain. Lauren slept outside in her hammock for most of the night while Anna and I took the tent. We made grits with scallions and eggs for breakfast on my little rocket stove while drinking cold brew and a leftover beer. The perfect breakfast in the wild. I remember sitting in the hammock afterwards, peering at our campsite. We had made a bedroom for the bears and I didn't want to be anywhere else.

Anna's first overnight hike, swim in an alpine lake, dinner sans the barbecue.. was a complete success. I had not realized how much I'd missed the northwest lifestyle with great hikes as little as 30 minutes away from Seattle. And most of all, I really missed Anna and Lauren. Cheers to them, hiking, bears, good beer, blueberries, and Lake Talapus :). ⤲

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