Friday, March 29, 2013

Steamboat Rock and Northrup Canyon

EWU had finals last week before their Spring break so Erik had a pretty relaxed work week. We took advantage of that and headed out to the desert Scablands of Central Washington to hike and camp in a unique area called Steamboat Rock State Park. It was gorgeous weather during the day with frigged temperatures at night but we kept a warm fire roaring and stayed warm in our nice sleeping bags at night.

The first day there he hiked up Steamboat Rock. "Steamboat Rock is a massive "island" of a rock mountain floating on the shore of Banks Lake. The durable rock was left behind through all of the Great Missoula Floods and was later nearly surrounded by the waters diverted by the Grand Coulee Dam. The top of the rock is a broad, flat plateau offering stunning views across the scablands of coulee country."It was a tough 20 min scramble to the top. But once up there it is relatively flat with incredible views of the "Cliffs of Insanity!" We saw deer and marmot up there and experienced every season of weather in a 2 hour period. The geology of this area is incredible. We couldn't get over the clear shimmering green water down below the sheer basalt cliffs. Well worth the sweat to the top.

Tate was hilarious in camp. She wanted so badly to crawl around in the grass and dirt to explore her surroundings but we had her bundled up in two warm suits so she could barely move. Since she couldn't feel anything with her hands she would put her cheek down on the ground to feel the texture. It was hilarious and sad at the same time. She was trying so hard! Erik the master of camp made us some incredible broccoli pasta for dinner and kept the fire warm. He did a lot of the work while I kept Tate happy. She did great even in the cold. When we got her in the warm tent before bed she went crazy being able to use her hands and crawl everywhere after being confined to a snow suit all day. The tent was a fun place to explore. Instead of putting her to bed we just let her climb all over us for a good hour. She was so hyper and happy to be moving it was so cute.

The next day we packed up camp and headed to Northrup Canyon. "Bald eagles, icons of the mossy forests and deep rivers of the Pacific Coast, flock to this desert canyon each winter, and their presence is reason to visit in winter." We met up with my hiking friends from the Inland Northwest Hikers club who had driven down for the day and cruised a good 8 miles through the canyon exploring the homestead, a waterfall, and two lakes. We were surprised by the thick forest tucked back in that desert canyon. 

It was such a beautiful and warm day with great company. We wanted to camp again that night, but Erik had to get back to chaperone the youth stake dance that night and we were both teaching lessons at church the next day, so we loaded up the wiggles and headed back to Cheney. She is such an outdoors baby! She could play outside all day, but put her in her car seat and that is a different story! We loved the park and decided it would be a blast to bring our family here again one day in the summer. It is a great lake with sandy beach areas and great boating, a fun swimming destination. One day we will come back! 

Dad Can Sew!

Erik has always wanted to learn how to sew so he could make his own camping gear. Tate needed a sleeping bag so this was the perfect opportunity for Erik to get a project going. So I taught him a few sewing basics, he did a practice project by making Tate a blanket, and then he ordered the materials and made her a sleeping bag! It turned out perfect. Erik was very meticulous about cutting out, pinning, sewing straight, and if necessary picking out seams and re-doing them. He has always been good at completing projects with perfection and does quality work in every aspect of his life.

We went camping down in Steamboat Rock State Park last weekend. That night the desert temperatures dropped to 23 degrees. This little beauty kept Tate warm all night long. I was so impressed with Erik. He is the best Dad to our little one. I still can't believe I was so lucky to snatch him up!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Deep Creek Canyon, Riverside State Park

Ever since we moved to Washington I have been meaning to call my old friend and teammate Kelly J to get together. She lives in Spokane and we have tried to see each other a few times but one thing or another interrupted plans. Well, we FINALLY connected this Saturday and we met up for a morning hike in Riverside State Park. It was so fun to see her again. She really cracks me up and we had so much fun laughing about old times on the BYU track team.

The hike was number 17 in my Inland Northwest Hiking book, a nice 5 miler into Deep Creek Canyon. It had it all: dark mossy forest, flowing rivers, basalt spires, lots of birds, and several cliff overlooks of 9 Mile Reservoir and the Spokane River Gorge. Tate had been awake since 3:30 AM and I thought for sure she could finally conk out on the hike but the scenery was so nice even she stayed awake the whole time. She was happy and content to just look around and enjoy the morning.

After the hike Tate and I headed over to Spokane Falls Community College where Erik was at a track meet with the EWU team. It was the first outdoor meet of the season, and it was awesome to have Erik home all weekend.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eagle Point, Nimbus Knob, Dishman Hills

Weather yesterday was 52 degrees AND SUNNY! That's right people, Spring has shown her sweet sweet face. . . or at least the tip of her head. Tate has had a cold the past few days and I just had to get her outside to enjoy the gorgeous warm weather. Erik was helping run the stake Young Men's basketball tournament but my trusty Inland Northwest hiking buddies were planning a nice day hike in the Dishman Hills. The Dishman Hills are a huge conservation area right in the middle of the city of Spokane. We are so lucky to have it thanks to some grassroots conservation back in the day. It could have easily been covered in homes and shopping malls. Luckily the residents of Spokane can head into this magical forested area right in out backyards. As soon as you are into a trail about a 1/4 mile or so you forget how close the city really is.

I loved the hike. We did several loops and found ourselves enjoying the views of Spokane from Eagle Point and Nimbus Knob. The shining sun was the highlight of the day. This wildflower is the very first one I have seen this Spring! The group went out for pizza after the hike, but Tate and I took advantage of being in town so close to a Costco so we did a grocery run. I Love me some fresh Costco dates! I made these awesome cookies today with the dates I bought. Talk about good hiking food!

Rock Creek, Escure Ranch BLM

Since moving to Spokane Erik and I have noticed that there are two things that people from Eastern Washington are proud of. The first is Gonzaga Basketball, and rightly so, we have caught the contagious Zag spirit too. The second are the ice age floods that formed the geologic features that cover central Washington known as the scablands. That's right, you cannot walk down the street around here without hearing people talk about Lake Missoula and one Coulee or another. Erik and I had to laugh to ourselves every time it came up. . . okay people, you had some big floods back in the day, congratulations. I really didn't understand what all the fuss was about. In fact the first time I drove through Central Washington I thought it was the ugliest place I had ever been in my life especially considering the green cascading beauty that the rest of this state is known for.

But since learning the geology that formed the area and exploring the scablands on a few hikes I have gained an appreciation for this apparent wasteland. There really is no other place on the planet like it. This geology is unique to the world and rightly so. What from I90 appears to be yellow-gray desert with nothing but sagebrush, has turned out to be a rolling countryside with basalt outcroppings forming cliffs, mesas, box canyons, and potholes. There are surprising rivers, lakes and waterfalls and tons of wildlife hiding back in this desert. Not only that, but when spring fever hits and the trails in the mountains near Spokane and northern Idaho are covered in snow, adventurous hikers can head west into the scablands to find slightly warmer temperatures and sunnier dry trails. It is a secret treasure you would never find just passing through traveling by car.

Lat week my hiking club was going down to Escure Ranch BLM area to hike. This is a neat area with some unique glacial flood formations. It was about an hour drive South from Cheney, I was on some crazy dirt roads through some wheat fields way out in the middle of nowhere. We hiked out about 5 miles on the ridge above Rock Creek. It was one of those hikes that looked kinda lame in pictures, but once there I was impressed with the gorgeous blue skies and sweeping vistas. I LOVE my hiking club. I have met so many wonderful people. The sun was shining, probably the sunniest day we have had this Spring. Two hikers brought dogs. Tate LOVES the dogs. She would violently lean from one side to the other in the backpack carrier to make sure she could always see the little dog over one of my shoulders. Several people in the club had ticks on them when we got home. AAAHHHH!! TICKS!!! I never had to worry about that in Utah, but they are pretty bad here in the Spring. I am terrified. I will gladly wear gators all year long if it means not getting a tick. So far I have not had the pleasure of pulling one out of my skin. Cross your fingers!

We have a few more hikes in the Scabs planned this Spring. It really is a neat area. I have a great appreciation for the uniqueness and beauty that is out there.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mt. Spokane Snowshoe Summit

Oh the joys of having Erik home for a weekend! The much awaited week between conference and nationals that Erik gets to stay home is always a fun one. Since the weather was going to be a warm 50 degrees in the foothills, we figured conditions up on the mountain would be pretty mild and that this would be a good day to take the baby up there. Plus, we haven't used our snowshoes nearly enough this winter.

Mt Spokane also seemed like a good choice with the baby because the back side of the mountain is a ski resort, while the front side has the trails. So when we got to the summit we had a nice little cabin snack shack up there to drink some hot coco and feed the little one. So maybe this is not our typical summit, but it was a fun and beautiful hike non the less. We had amazing views of this new landscape we live in. We could see the plains of Eastern Washington, all the mountains of Northern Idaho and all the way to Canada (maybe). Tate has graduated from the front carrier to the hiking backpack and she was loving the new ride. It was a steep climb and we had a ton of fun.

Check out our route and elevation profile from our GPS data.