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Outdoors

Camelbak Intro

hydrationpouchLogan is doing a lot more hiking these days and had asked for my thoughts about hydration packs. Here’s what I came up with:

  • They’re great! Hydration can make the difference between a good hike and a bad one. Having your water easily accessible makes it a lot easier to stay hydrated.
  • Camelbak is the most popular but there are other brands of hydration packs.
  • Just because you decide you want a Camelbak, you don’t need to limit yourself to Camelbak branded backpacks. Lots of packs have a separate pouch designed for hydration packs or you could just throw it into a normal backpack too. It is nice if the spot for your pouch has a little loop to hang the hydration pack from. The straw connects at the bottom of the pouch and without that hanger loop, the pouch can slouch down and cut off the water.
  • Keep your pouch clean! It can be really tricky to keep mold from growing in the pouches when you’re not using them. Some people just keep them in the freezer between uses but since I only use mine a handful of times each year, I prefer to fully dry them out. I recommend getting a cleaning kit. You can use things from around the house like coat hangers but these kits work really well and aren’t too expensive. I hang and dry my pouches after every hike and then use the cleaning tablets every once in a while.
  • You can buy new bite valves in case yours gets really dirty, is used by a gross human or if it just wears out.

Rattlesnake Ledge

Logan invited us along on a hike and we ended up at Rattlesnake Ledge. I’ve done the hike a few times before but it was the first time for Logan, Tyla and Elijah. The hike provides a great payout for a moderate amount of effort which means that it is usually very crowded and that day was no exception.

I carried Elijah in the pack all the way up and most of the way down. He was happy to walk part of it, but it was really slow going since we had to stop to get passed both by people heading the opposite way but also by people who were going the same way as us. So he just bopped along (heavily) in my backpack.

It really is a beautiful hike and the consistent climb up to the top is nice versus a hike that alternates between flat and steep sections. The crowds get to me after a while though. I prefer the hikes where you only see a couple other people but there are reasons why those trails are more sparsely populated. I’ll have to get used to these easier busier trails for a while as Elijah learns to hike on his own.

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Fremont Lookout Hike

Today is my birthday and when Tyla asked what I wanted to do for my birthday weekend, I requested a hike. I had hoped to do a lot more hiking this summer but it hasn’t happened yet. So on Saturday we packed up the car and headed to Mt. Rainier.

I chose the hike out to Fremont Lookout. It’s one I’ve done twice before but it’s a great one. It’s something like 6 miles round trip with about 800 feet of elevation gain. It’s not super strenuous but the trail does get narrow and requires your concentration to avoid a long slide to your doom.

The weather was gorgeous and the temperature was perfect for hiking. Unfortunately it was a little windy at times and Elijah was just along for the ride so he was pretty cool. Thankfully Tyla had planned well and we had enough extra gear to keep him warm. Elijah walked about 1 of the 6 miles and happily rode in the backpack for the rest of the way. I was happy to survive the hike with the ~40 pound pack.

It’s a little over 2 hours away from our house so it’s quite a hike (pun intended) but it’s so cool to have world class hikes like this within range of an easy day trip!

Thanks to Tyla for taking a bunch of great pictures along the way too! Oddly enough, neither Tyla nor I took any pictures of the actual lookout, but you can find plenty of those on the interwebz.

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Tolt MacDonald Camping

Tyla and I used to go camping once or twice a summer before Elijah came along. Then we got a little gunshy about camping with a munchkin. We have visited Tyla’s family at a campsite multiple times but we’ve never slept at one overnight. It was time to try it out for real.

I picked Tolt MacDonald park as a location that wasn’t too far away but one that still has some interesting stuff for us to explore. It’s the same park where we had our family photos taken. I know there are lots of you who would have been happy to come along, but we wanted to do this first trip by ourselves to make some family memories and then be ready for bigger trips with more people.

We had great weather for the trip and Elijah loved it! We all went to bed together at night around the time the sun set and he was zonked so he fell asleep quickly. We spent Saturday down by the river playing the sand and we also drove over to Snoqualmie Falls. I haven’t been there since they redid the lower viewing area. They have it completely blocked off so that it’s impossible to get down to the rocks below the falls. I’m glad we had opportunities to explore there years ago before access was shut off.

Elijah got to roast his first marshmallows over a real campfire and eat meals outside. He loved it all and didn’t want to go home at the end. The only misstep we had was that he woke up at 6am on the last day and couldn’t get back to sleep. He hasn’t figured out how to keep quiet for very long so we went on a 2 mile hike through the woods to avoid waking up everyone else. All in all, the trip was a success though.

Personally, I was thrilled to go camping with the truck. It was so easy to toss everything in the back. And this was the first time we had fully set up our new tent. That tent is going to last us forever. It’s built really well and worked great. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for my air mattress. I vaguely remember a leak from the last time I used it years ago but for some reason it didn’t get thrown away. So I spent the second half of both nights laying on the ground. I remembered to toss it in the trash this time.

It was a really nice weekend and I’m excited that we can start adding these trips back into our summer schedules again.

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Birch Bay

We spent Memorial Day up at Birch Bay with Tyla’s family. The weather was pretty wet on Saturday but Sunday was gorgeous. We spent all of Sunday morning down by the water enjoying the views and attempting to fly kites. (Logan won that contest.) Traveling with a kid means a lot of extra work but it was nice to get away and enjoy some good times and nice scenery.

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