Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Foothills Trail

Foothills Trail in Orting, WA
Foothills Trail in Orting, WA
While attending a picnic in Puyallup, WA, a friend recommended the Foothills Trail, starting in the nearby town of Orting.  The trail is part of the "Rails to Trails" project, and it was converted from a Northern Pacific Railway bed to a trail, beginning in 1990.  The Foothills Trail currently consists of about 30 miles of six separate trails, which will hopefully be connected someday soon.

We had time after the picnic, so we decided to check out the trail.  Once we found Orting, finding the trail was easy.  It starts in the middle of town, where there was a park surrounded by parking.   After a short bit past houses and lots, the trail entered the woods, and we went east along the Carbon River through the woods.  This turned out to be the first day of some type of salmon fishing season, and the river was packed with fishermen.   The trail passed frequent signs with lahar warnings, backed up by a view of Mt Rainier always standing like a goalpost in the distance.  This particular section of the trail was paved and in good condition.  The hike solidified my desire to expand my repertoire of trails from rails.

Salmon fishing on the Carbon River
Salmon fishing on the Carbon River

Confluence of Carbon River with some glaciated water

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Beyond "Beyond the pavement"

This post may read like an advertisement for the GRIT Freedom Chair, with its call to "move beyond the pavement," but it is actually an expression of gratitude.

During our trip to the Canadian Rockies, the Freedom Chair made it possible for me:

  • to do things

"walk-in" camping

at Snaring River in Jasper NP

  • to go places

Rockfield on Icefields Parkway
Tak Falls in Yoho NP

Snaring River in Jasper NP
Maligne Lake in Jasper NP

Maligne Lake in Jasper NP

  • and to see things

Tak Falls in Yoho NP

canyon across rockfield on Icefields Parkway

Lake Louise

Elk on Pyramid Island
Pyramid Lake

Ted falling into  Lake Louise (or not)
Ted extended the ability and range of the Freedom Chair with his willingness and ability to push the chair up incredibly steep hills, to maneuver it around rocks, roots, and other obstacles, and to encourage me to take on challenges that seemed impossible.

In particular, there were two hikes in the Canadian Rockies, with the help of both Ted and the Freedom Chair, that I was able to go beyond "beyond the pavement" and hike some difficult trails with fantastic views.

Bow Lake & Bow Glacier from Bow Summit 

The first was the trail to Bow Summit, overlooking ... wait for it ... Bow Lake and Bow Glacier.  

Start of trail to
Bow Summit
A steep paved path leading from the Peyton Lake Overlook met up with a fire-road, which was wide and covered with hard-packed dirt, but soon became far too steep for my arms.  Ted to the rescue! After the snow patches, the trail took a turn for the worse -- even more steep and rocky. With serious help, I continued upward, to where a dirt path branched off from the road.  The path was wide enough and the surface hard enough that I was able to continue up (still with serious help) for quite a bit, before the path narrowed too much for the wheelchair.

After the snow, the road
got even more steep & rocky.

Fire road to Bow Summit

For our effort, we were greeted with wildflowers, snowfields, marmots, and views of mountains, lakes, and glaciers.  Most rewarding of all, this trek felt like the mountain hikes of old, when I could walk deep into the mountains.

Wildflowers galore

This looks like a perfect place for marmots...

They may look like rocks, but those "rocks" on top
are furry and move!

Bow Summit

Eventually, the bugs became to ferocious to sit and admire the valley view, and we headed back down the trail.
My "bug defense" stance 

Chateau Lake Louise from the back side of the lake

The second memorable hike was the on the back side of Lake Louise. 

Giant rocks on the back side
of Lake Louise, often with climbers

After traveling on the Lakeshore Trail from the chateau, traversing from good pavement, to crumbly pavement, to hard-packed gravel, and then to dirt (with sporadic roots and/or rocks thrown in for good measure). we reached  the opposite side of the lake, from which there looked to be an impassible trail -- very steep, with rocks and roots. 
Beginning of Lake Louise
Lakeside Trail
Trail conditions deteriorated
about halfway down the trail

With the help of my two superpowers, we traversed up and over to the other side, which led us to a raised boardwalk across the beach and then to a horse trail (wide, hard-packed dirt, with tell-tale signs of horse presence).  

On the boardwalk, heading toward
the horse trail
Headed toward the boardwalk

We went up this trail a bit, till we reached a mountain stream.  This was to be our turn-around point; although the trail continued to the a teahouse and beyond, it was not accessible -- much too narrow and full of roots.  So, we used it as a photo opportunity, then we headed back to the Chateau for a celebratory dinner and then to our campsite.

Both of these hikes felt like real backcountry hikes, with amazing views, challenging conditions, few people. and many discoveries.  Neither would have been possible without my Freedom Chair or my husband.  So, as I said in the beginning, this is an expression of gratitude for both:  thank you for helping me to realize some outstanding experiences!