Long Time Gone! – Olympic National Park – August 2014

It’s been too long, and many things have happened. First, my old implementation of Gallery2 is no longer supported in WordPress, so I’m going to try use a new photo/media manager. If you can’t see the pics, please let me know. I’ll probably try a few until I find the right one.

We went to Kalaloch in August. We had a great time camping, visiting Ruby Beach, the Hoh rain forest, and a few other sites.The campground is very tight quarters, but a really pretty place. It was my first time there, and a revisit for the Penning crew. We hiked the Hoh River trail and explored some great places. We even saw a monster elk, munching away at grass near the trail.

Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach, lots of fun!

Blankenship Meadows

July 18-20 brought our crew to a 21 mile trek from Soda Springs, up Summit Creek, across the meadows, and out Indian Creek. Brooklynn was visiting from Utah and joined the fun and the Hartman crew also joined us for the adventure.

A big thanks to Nana Penning for helping us set up the car and dropping us off at the trailhead. After realizing I left my much-loved Leki poles at the house, we began hiking up Summit Creek to Jug lake and had a great lunch by the lake. We continued on and spent the first night at Fryingpan Lake. The lake was beautiful, but the site a bit gross; because of the allowed use of stock and relative proximity, it is a garbage dump for some. Despite that, we had a great time. Just as Price was about to jump in the lake for a brisk swim, we found leeches in the lake. Between that and the fact that any exposed skin immediately led to scores of mosquito bites, no swimming was attempted.

Shortly after taking off the next morning, we came to our short section of the Pacific Crest Trail, breaking off again after a mile. Well… there was that extra half mile unplanned when we missed the turnoff. But, we thought an extra half mile in 3 days was OK; it also led to our only encounter with another hiker on the trip, a PCT section hiker travelling from Chinook to White Pass. We had lunch at the smaller of the Twin Sisters lakes. The breeze kept off some of the mosquito hordes, but the relief was short-lived. The second night was spent at a beautiful spot next to the largest of the Blankenship lakes. As it cooled down at night, the bugs were slightly bearable, and the kids spent some fun time down by the lake.

The third day brought a return of mosquitoes, with a vengeance! We could scarcely move without another bite. We hustled through some gorgeous meadows and next to Indian Creek, as it tumbles down the mountains toward Rimrock Lake. The kids crashed as soon as they got in the car. We’re ready to plan next year’s summer trip. Suggestions?

Lots of pics below, all of the photos are in the Blankenship Meadows album.

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Round Mountain Lookout

On June 28th, I took several of the kids to the site of the former fire lookout on Round Mountain, just south of White Pass. Although the lookout is no longer there, you can get views of both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams from the top, as well as several peaks in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. It was a simple out and back, but lots of fun. We hit patches of snow a little above 5,000′ and the kids had a blast with that. Snow in the summer, who knew?!? Another fun plus for Washington!

On the way home, we did a little exploring on Summit Creek, scouting out our next adventure.

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memorial day lives on…geocaching 2013

We have celebrated Memorial Day in Zion National Park, UT with friends since 2005. Although we no longer live near Zion, we hope to carry on the camping tradition with our children and friends…new and old…for a long time to come. This year we celebrated near Mt. Rainier. It was wet and green and completely different than what we have grown used to over the years. I missed the warmth of Zion and all of the familiar surroundings. But I also loved being “home” and showing my kids what it was like to camp near real trees. Rob and Jaime joined us, which was awesome.

Instead of hiking on Saturday, the guys took the kids geocaching. They have explored many geocaches all over Las Vegas and its surrounding desert.


They love looking for “treasure.” Adam loves using his GPS. And I love sitting in my camping recliner. So it’s win-win for EVERYONE! :)


We had several cousins join the fun. Everyone had a great time!! Despite being homesick for familiar faces in Las Vegas, I love being home.


Chain Lakes Loop

During our trip to Washington, I took the 3 oldest kids on a short backpacking trip I’ve been looking at for a couple years. Papa Penning, Uncle Brian, and Brooklynn came with us too. Much of the Chain Lakes Loop is in the Mt. Baker Wilderness. We spent two days camped between Hayes Lake and Arbuthnot Lake. Weather was great, and the area is beautiful, with views of both Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan along the trail.

More photos in the gallery.

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Geocaching – Mountain Springs Peak

After trying out a couple geocaches here in the city, we decided to try our luck on a little longer adventure. Mountain Springs Peak is a less-traveled peak in the southern part of Red Rock National Conservation Area. It does not have a maintained trail, but there are several use paths. Altogether it was about 5 miles and 1,100 feet of elevation gained to reach the peak at ~6,600 feet.

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We found two caches and lots of cool logs from previous hikers. The earliest note was from 1970. A fun outing for all!

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All of the photos are in the Mountain Springs Peak photo album.

mt. stirling

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Adam told me he has a new goal: summit all 50 Las Vegas area peaks with the kids. I slightly chortled and said, “Does Las Vegas even have 50 peaks worth hiking?” He says, “you get what you get, lady.” (what I always say to my kids) I’m thinking, go for it buddy…I’ll be at the spa. Although this time I somehow ended up staying home with a newborn, a two year old, and a seven year old. Hmm, no spa for me. :)

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Don’t get me wrong. I love hiking. But I do not love walking-in-the-desert-through-a-wash-and-up-a-hill-to-say-I-hiked kind of hiking.  *northwest snobbery at its finest*

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I’ve been dragged on worse desert excursions than these pictures portray. This doesn’t look half bad, trust me! Maybe I’ll try the next one.

arizona canyon fun

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Adam and Danny hit a canyon on the way back from scout camp in Arizona. Lucky Boys!

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Danny had a blast getting wet!

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Adam’s truck wouldn’t start when they exited the canyon. Luckily, there was a group a few hours behind them. The guys weren’t super pumped about spending another night in the 100 degree weather.  But seriously, what would a canyon with my husband be like without a slight mishap??

daddy, can we go camping?

Adam is such a sucker! And I love him for it. The older kids asked if he would take them, and we actually had a semi-free weekend ahead of us when they asked. Sooo…the three oldest kiddos backpacked Bridge Mountain with their dad in mid-February….something he’s wanted to do with them for awhile.
Adam, Daniel, Ezzy, and Nikki.

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As you can tell from the pictures, it was a bit chilly, with “lots of snow” still on the ground. But the daytime hiking weather was perfect. The three kids snuggled up in a backpacking tent together while Adam braved his bivy. Daniel even woke himself up to see his first very sunrise ever. He is definitely maturing…even if he’s super middle school dorky right now. :)

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