Autumn Activity Recap

It’s the end of November after Thanksgiving in the US, which means autumn is over and winter is taking its grip. Also means it’s time for me the post about what I’ve been up to in the last 3 or so months. We are still in the middle of the COVID pandemic which hasn’t gotten any better in the US, so most of my activities have been outdoors and away from the crowds. Here are the highlights:

Lake Valhallla from Mount McCausland
Absolutely gorgeous view of Lake Valhalla and Lichtenberg Mountain from Mount McCausland.

Mount McCausland
The fiery fall colors on the way up Mount McCausland. It was a short and steep hike from Lake Valhalla, and definitely worth the extra effort
Tolmie Peak
Had to wait for the clouds and mist to clear up for this awesome view of Mount Rainier from Tolmie Peak.
Eunice Lake
On the edge of Eunice Lake, with a view of the Tolmie Peak fire lookout up top and pretty wild lupine on the shores

I tried to go hiking when weather still allowed. Washington has some beautiful mountains and I got to see some very pretty sights. Most beautiful hike this season was Lake Valhalla/Mount McCausland, as we went during peak fall foliage. The hillside of Mount McCausland was a sea of red and gold from the shrubs growing there. That is on top of a picturesque mountain lake. Tolmie Peak in Mount Rainier National Park was quite spectacular too, and it’s been years since I’ve been to this national park. Here are some photos from my hikes in the late summer and fall.

Beckler Peak
360 degree views at the very top of Beckler Peak (click to enlarge)
Franklin Falls
Franklin Falls, a nice waterfall that can be accessed via short hike
Gold Creek Pond
Gold Creek Pond is the prettiest mountain lake one can access in the region without having to do much hiking. This is a man-made lake that was dug up for the construction of the interstate freeway nearby.
Lake Wenatchee State Park
On the shores of Lake Wenatchee. The beach was busy on a nice weekend day.
Leavenworth
Visited the Bavarian-themed mountain town of Leavenworth. Quite popular with tourists.
Mount Catherine
What a beautiful day to be on the top of Mount Catherine

In addition hikes in the “local” area, I also traveled into Central Washington on an overnight trip. Thanks to the pandemic, this was my first overnight trip since the previous winter. The terrain and environment in central Washington state is definitely different than the west of the Cascade Mountains. The dry, semi-arid grassland and shrub with dramatic coulees and river canyons carved by glacial activity has a distinct look.

Ancient Lakes
Ancient Lakes out near Quincy, WA. Definitely different than the green tree-filled mountains in the western part of the state.
Palouse Falls
Palouse Falls, the official state waterfall of Washington. Powerful waterfall in a dramatic river canyon out in the middle nowhere in central Washington.

As decreasing daylight and the cold and wet weather start to make hiking less desirable, I decided to try some other activities. During the summer I went digging for clams and collecting oysters, and now I’ve started crabbing and fishing for squid. I’ve gone crabbing in the Vancouver area with my family years ago, and have a crabbing website that I’ve run since secondary school, so I know the basics. Crabbing is such a simple activity, and Dungeness and red rock crabs are delicious, so it’s good to know that we can catch crabs in the Seattle area.

local crabbing
Two legal-sized red rock crabs caught in one pull. Legal size in Washington state for red rocks is 5 inches across the carapace

In addition to the Puget Sound, I also visited and crabbed in the town of Westport on the Pacific coast. It’s good to see the ocean, and catching some delicious crabs to bring back home.

Westhaven State Park
Lots of people surfing on the Pacific Coast in Westhaven State Park, near Westport WA.
Westport Westhaven
View of the Westhaven area of Westport from the observation tower in town.
Westport crabbing
Lots of crabs in Westport, but most are undersize. Ended up catching two keeper-sized Dungeness crabs at the end of the day.

As for squid fishing (or squidding), I just found out about this winter craze and joined in. Literally there are people standing shoulder to shoulder on cold winter nights jigging for squid. The serious folk bring their own lights and generators in hopes of attracting more squid. Joining the crowds may not be the best idea given the pandemic, but at least the majority of people I saw were wearing masks. I’m still a noob and only caught a total of 5 squids in two tries while people catch them by the dozens, but I’ll try a few more times. Squid tastes pretty good too. Catching squid also marks the first time I’ve ever caught anything on a rod and reel, which is something to remember.

squidding pier
Squidding is a popular winter activity in these parts. People claim their spots before the sun sets.
caught squid
Only caught 5 squids on my second try when people beside me caught 2-3 times as many. Made for a decent meal though

So that’s the extend of my adventures in the last 3 months. At the time of writing, there are a few vaccines for COVID that claims to be very effective, but it’ll be months before they can be approved and widely distributed. As such, all the restrictions and shutdowns will still be with us for a while. The border restrictions with Canada has made traveling back here a pain, so haven’t visited my family in a while which is a bummer. At this point, I’m not sure what’ll be doing for Christmas and New Years. Maybe just ski a bit. Hopefully we’ll come out of this pandemic soon.

Thanks for reading and stay safe.

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