Volcano Adventure Part I

The Goal: Visit as many of the Cascade volcanoes this summer as possible.
This Mission: Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier

Barely a week after returning from the North Cascades trip I packed up the car for another adventure. A goal for the summer is to visit as many of the Cascade volcanoes as I can. I initially headed out to hit the four major peaks in Washington on this trip, but got sucked into the beauty of the Baker-Snoqualmie N.F and only made it to two. Having never been to either Baker or Rainier the idea was to try to get a general feel for a couple different sides of each mountain and just wander.

A fully packed BooCoupe ready to roll.

I packed a tent, but this trip was for lazy camping, and I slept in the car  for half the trip. I have perfected the back of the car sleeping situation and the amount of gear I need to take after last summers adventures. I headed out and drove up to Twin Lakes Trailhead in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie N.F.  Twin Lakes is about 7 miles up up up from the Mt. Baker highway, directly east of Bellingham, WA about 3 miles as the crow flies south of the Canadian border. The last couple miles absolutely require a high clearance vehicle, but I’ve been on much worse roads too.

The top of the road with Winchester Mountain looming.

There were 4 people camping and fly fishing on the lakes when I arrived, but we were widely spread out around the two lakes. The first night was a peaceful, majestic night in the clouds. There are level pads to camp on, and a few picnic tables scattered around the lakeshore, but I slept in the car.

Camp pads and picnic tables at Twin Lakes.

The wildflowers are pretty much gone round our parts, but the elevation and higher latitude meant there were a few bursts of color around. Didn’t spot any critters, but they do say that black bears frequent the area and to keep any food/smelly things stored properly.

Lupine still in flower.

After a fitful night of sleep I set my goal of the morning to climb Winchester Mountain to the decommissioned fire lookout at the top. It’s about a 3.5 mile roundtrip with 1300 feet of climbing with the peak sitting at 6521 feet. The temp was perfect, the sky was looking friendly, and I set off!

Winchester Mountain.
The actual trailhead lies about .25 miles from the sign at the top of the road, between the two lakes.
On the Winchester Mountain trail.
View of Twin Lakes from Winchester Mountain.

I had to stop frequently to catch my breath, but with panoramic views from every angle that was fine. The trail was a series of fairly long switchbacks with a couple challenging and/or steep sections, but the views… huff puff huff.

The view from one of the more challenging sections where you climb over a saddle.
Twin Lakes from above the saddle.
The trail turned North and I caught a golden ground squirrel eating berries on this section.

The bottom half of the trail was lined with huckleberry and wild blueberries. There were a few blueberries left to scavenge, but they’d been pretty picked over by critters and people. Super tasty treats for the hike up/down. Climb Kiri climb!

Tiny bit of snow left in a cirque near the top.
The view north. Can you see Canada? That peak in the middle back is the American Border peak.

Finally reached the top. Walked all around and took pictures from every angle. There were 3 guys up at the top, and I had passed a group of 4 others coming up, busier than I expected for the adventure road it takes to get to the trailhead.

A view to the East from the peak of Winchester Mountain.

The fire lookout was built in 1935, and is kept open to the public by the Mt. Baker hiking club. It is well stocked and you can spend the night, just hoist the flag to signal it’s occupied. I was just there for a visit, but there are a couple cots, desk, stove, sleeping bag, maps, guest register, a lightning stool, and a bottle of whisky amongst other things. And did I mention the views…


Winchester Mountain lookout.

I spent a good 45 minutes alone on the top enjoying the views on each side of the lookout. The North Cascades are spectacular from every angle.

You can swim and/or fish in the lakes after your hike.

I ate a quick lunch at the picnic tables along the late and deliberated staying another night at the lakes, but decided I wanted to see more of the area and set my sights on Artist Point at the end of the Mt. Baker Highway.

Columnar basalt from flows near the Mt. Baker ski area.
Artist point with the thrust fault block Mt. Shuksan in the distance.

Artist Point is straight off the road, and has easy graded trails for excellent views of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. That meant it was packed, and pretty hot up there. It sits above the Mt. Baker ski area (have to go skiing here some day!). There are tons of trails off the highway in various places, so there are lots of people, and lots of amenities (flush toilets!).

The clouds refused to clear the summit of Mt. Baker!
Almost clear summit… but not quite.
Another view of Mt. Shuksan. Beautiful!

I drove down from Artist Point, checking in at a couple campsites in the area, but couldn’t find any open spaces. I picked a gravel road and ended up at the Heliotrope Ridge trailhead and shot some awesome video of snow melt from the glaciers, but didn’t capture any good photos. I was going to spend the night at a climbers bivy above the trailhead, but decided to start heading south. Mt. Baker I’ll be back! I finished the day in North Cascades and spent the night at the Newhalem campground.

The next morning I drove down to Mt. Rainier – final destination Mowich Lake. Unexpectedly I happened to drive by the enormous Oso Landslide along the way. Wow – very scary site. There’s a small place to park to observe the landslide along the side of the road and a huge log memorial at the toe of the slide, but I didn’t stop.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned how much I loathe Seattle traffic, so I’ll not explain that clusterpoop on the drive south. The drive was otherwise uneventful and the weather had turned beastly hot overnight. Finally reaching Mowich Lake I never expected finding a parking lot full at the end of  17 miles of gravel road. Fortunately there were only 2 people camping at the Mowich Lake campground when I arrived, even though the parking lots and trails were packed. I quickly set up my tent, and set out for a hike. The campground is free, but the tent pads are practically on top of one another so don’t expect it to be too quiet!

I headed up the Tolmie Peak Lookout trail (7.5 miles r/t) but was exhausted by the time I climbed up to Eunice Lake, and didn’t climb the last .9 mile to the top of that ridge from the left in the picture below to the fire lookout. 5 miles was plenty! The view up there is supposed to be amazing, so I’ll have to go back.

Eunice Lake, Mt. Rainier.
Glacial scour along the edges of Eunice Lake.

After relaxing on Eunice lake for a bit I headed back down to my tent on Mowich Lake and to make some dinner. By the time I returned there were 3 other groups of campers at the campground including a very whiny teenager – joy!

Mowich Lake.

It was pretty noisy in the campground overnight, but I managed to sleep okay, until the guys next to me broke camp at 6:30 in the morning with loud “effing this, effing that”  after proudly pounding red bulls and other general puffoonary. I made sure I gave them the evil death glare on the way to the toilet, but was kinda of thankful they woke me up early. I set off for the first come first serve White River campground within Mt. Rainier N.P. on the other side of the mountain – 50 miles away after breaking camp.

I arrived at the White River camp by 11 and quickly found a quiet bower of a campsite. I set up my tent and hammock and proceeded to have a rest day. I read in the hammock for the afternoon watching chipmunks making circles around my site, which had a small stream flowing through it. Also found a frog hopping across the access plank. Very relaxing.


Bridge across White River.

Towards sunset I walked down to the day use area where many climbers also park to head up the White River valley for summit attempts. The Wonderland trail crosses the White River here, and there are wood bridges to aid in crossing. The river level was very low, but the water was flowing briskly and very coldly!

Caught a couple watching the sun set behind Mt. Rainier.

The campground filled overnight – and they allowed fires! Bummer that I didn’t have any s’more making materials. This was the first campground I’ve camped at this summer that actually allowed fires. This wildfire season has been brutal. I hit the sack early, and read for a while. Some children in the campground decided it would be cool to play hide and seek around my tent! Fun times. I managed to finally get to sleep pretty earlyish for another early start in the morning.

Mt. Rainier from Burroughs Mountain Trail.

The weather was calling for 90s so I planned to get up to the trailhead at 9 the next morning. I planned to loop hike Burroughs Mountain I and Sunrise rim trail, most of which was at an elevation > 6000 ft and totally exposed. I broke camp and drove up to the Sunrise Visitor Center arriving just at 9, and started the hike up to Burroughs mountain 1. The climb up  was a definite huffer and puffer for everyone except one trail gazelle couple who were running it!

Rainer from the top of Burroughs Mountain I. You can see the trail up to Burroughs Mt. II in the distance.
Sunrise Rim Trail.

I sat at the top of Burroughs I to catch my breath and have a granola bar and some water. My stomach had lingering upset from the night before and I was feeling groggy and dehydrated. The views were incredible. The trails were fairly crowded and there were a lot of rangers hiking around probably because of the extreme heat they were expecting.

One tricky section on the Sunrise rim trail had lots of helicoptering crickets  flying around and amazing views of the glaciers on the mountain. Halfway down the back half of the loop I was starting to feel really terrible. I had a can of coke that I had smartly packed in my bag to calm my tummy. I sat for a while at an overlook and enjoyed the views of the mountain. A couple ladies in front of me had set up their hammock there and were enjoying a swing with a view. At this point I was very thankful I started so early, it was getting really hot.

View of the west side of Mt. Rainier with the glacier fed White River Valley below.

Passed a ton of people on the trail back to the visitor center. Super busy trail, but with the views of the mountain that’s hardly surprising. Once back at the plot I filled my water bottles and downed two more pints of water – tummy was not feeling good at all. Hit the road and headed south for home.

Heading back to the Sunrise Visitor Center. Finally some shade!

I took the southern route 123 through the park – an absolutely beautiful drive, then head back to I-5 through Packwood and Randle. All in all a fantastic first introduction to Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier, 4 nights under the stars, and ~15 miles of hiking. I’m absolutely bonkers for all things North Cascades and Mt. Baker region. I’m not done with Mt. Rainier yet either, but it is so much busier – definitely a place I would rather backpack.

There is one major volcanic edifice in that area that I have not visited yet, and that’s Glacier Peak. If anyone wants to go backpacking up there, lemme know! (it’s not accessible by vehicle)

I’m working on an AFG2WT video companion to this post, but it’s going to be a couple weeks till that is ready. Stay tuned for that and a blog post on Volcano Adventure Part 2, as well as a couple other trip reports.

Happy adventuring all, get outside!

AFG2WT Episode #2: Our place in the family of things

A Field Guide to Wondrous Things Episode #2: Our Place in the Family of Things

The second episode of A Field Guide to Wondrous Things is done! Finally. Adventures, computer failures, wanting to make sure everything was perfect (it’s still not and I’m okay with that), made the production time go on and on and on. The accompanying Tiny Adventure PDF is still in production, and that’ll be out next week, but hopefully there are enough pointers in the video to get you started. I read the poem above during the introduction of the video, but if you’re interested in hearing the poet herself read it, hit the link above. Without further ado, please enjoy…

And stay tuned for the next episode which will hopefully not take quite as long, it’s going to be about storytelling. Thanks for watching AND…

If the project excites, stimulates, intrigues, or makes you do a happy dance please consider supporting the channel in some fashion. I’m specifically looking for any or all of  the following:

  • gas or equipment $
  • a GoPro camera
  • a 10 sec introductory tune
  • collaborators & other creative wanderers
  • smiles, encouragement and spontaneous dance parties!

Contact me if you would like to donate equipment, or you can donate directly through my Youtube channel or right here! Thanks for your support!

You can find AFG2WT on the web at :

A Field Guide to Wondrous Things (Youtube)

WondrousFieldGuide (Instagram)

AFG2WT on Hargie.com (PDFs & Links to other content)


Overnight Solo Backpack to Upper Twin Lake, Mt. Hood Wilderness

Hello Everybody, I’m back. I’m on a new laptop, and Jon recovered all my files so I can get back to posting! Yay – thanks Jon! So let’s go back in time to mid-July. On the 19th and 20th I headed out to Mt. Hood Wilderness to do a quick overnight backpack from the Barlow Pass Sno-Park to Upper Twin Lake. Here’s the trip report… the pics aren’t that great cause I only had my cell phone working on the trip.


Barlow Pass TH to Upper Twin Lake via PCT and Twin Lakes Trail – 3.5 miles *
* with Twin Lake Trail loop and misdirection can be up to 5.5 miles


After packing up I arrived at the trailhead around 5p. TH to Upper Twin Lake is about 3.5 miles, which would give me plenty of time to hike to the lake before sunset. But… I wasn’t paying attention to trail signs and went down the Barlow Wagon Road ending up at the Pioneer Women’s Grave. Which was kind of cool, because I’ve passed it dozens of times and never visited, but was not cool because it added an extra 2 miles to the hike. The one bonus of setting off the wrong direction was the great view of Mt. Hood I had from the wagon route.


Slogged back up to the parking lot and started over southbound on the PCT after some debate about driving down to Wapanita Pass and starting the hike from there as it’s a bit shorter. Still thought I could make it to Upper Twin Lake before sunset so set off anyway. Temps were still hovering in the 80s so the hike was pretty hot and sweaty. I passed one group of 4 hikers along the way, who obviously had been down at the lakes swimming.


After some serious slap happy semi-bonkery on the trail singing “Hi-Ho Hi-Ho Southbound on the PCT I go… and Hi-ho the merry-o there’s horse shit all over the trail I go, ding dong the poop is on the trail”. Finally around 3.5 miles in I drank the cold Coke I picked up in Welches and the energy levels spiked enough to hoof it in the rest of the way to camp without incident.


Turning onto the Twin Lakes Trail I finally arrived 5.5 miles later at Upper Twin Lake utterly deserted – yay – my very own lake for the night! Found an excellent site on the north side of the lake and promptly went to work setting up camp, and promptly broke one of the poles on my tent. It snapped in a way that I couldn’t use the spare pole sleeve so I had to use one of my hiking poles to hold up the fourth corner. Love it when adventures require problem solving – instead of feeling irritating it makes you feel alive. It was a little wonky but ended up holding overnight.


Set up the Esbit stove, and boiled up some water for a Backpackers Pantry pouch of Hawaiian style Chicken – bleck. Definitely not my favorite pouch of backpacking food for sure. Hit the hay early to read my book. Ended up reading til 3 in the morning, and slept in fits in starts. Hadn’t been sleeping well all that week. The night was blissfully quiet with only occasional soft chippy scurrying and other forest noises.


Woke in the morning to 3 ravens flying around the lake making their weird and loud calls, woodpeckers chipping away at trees, and a warbling bird that sounded like the same one we heard up in North Cascades. Still haven’t actually seen that bird. Had a Mountain House pouch of eggs with bacon, and made a lovely mug of camp coffee while watching the sun rise over the hills surrounding the lake.


While waiting for the water to boil I moseyed over to check out the water, debated taking a morning swim, and noticed that a bunch of deer must have visited in the night as there were tracks all over, and continued around the lake. Didn’t hear them at all, stealthy critters!


After breakfast I packed up camp and forgoing the morning swim headed back onto the Twin Lakes trail to finish the loop to the Lower lake and hike back up the PCT to the car. I passed a few people camping at Lower Twin Lake, and one thru-hikery type flew by me on the PCT about a mile out from the lake, but the trail and lakes were otherwise empty.


At one point I paused on the trail to take in the peaceful morning quiet, and catch my breath. I had been looking uphill at the sun through the trees, but when I turned my head in the opposite direction there was a Douglas squirrel staring at me from a broken fir limb. As soon as it noticed me noticing it it scurried off into the pines. A great spot of an elusive and uncommon squirrel.

The rest of the dusty 5+ mile hike back to the car was uneventful. This is a great little trip for a first time out for the year solo backpacking outing. Not too far, a quiet and peaceful lake to swim in, plenty of wildlife to watch, but there is (sadly) cell phone service in some spots up there so it’s “out there” quotient is not very high. Can’t wait to hit the trails for more backpacking fun soon!


Volcano Adventure Part .5

The trail up Burroughs Mountain I, Mt. Rainier N.P.
The trail up Burroughs Mountain I, Mt. Rainier N.P.

I would be sharing with you the adventures of the past two weeks but a motherboard failure on my windows laptop has left most of my photos inaccessible. :(

Sit tight and stay tuned cause I have lots to talk about shortly!

Hope everyone is having a most excellent summer.

North Cascades National Park, Washington

Summer in full swing, and time to get our first camping trip done. I found a picture of the North Cascades N.P. on Instagram, and I was like “we have to go there now”. And so we did. Late Thursday afternoon we left boiling PDX and headed north.


Our first stop was at the Shell at the Winlock/Toledo exit for a road trip late lunch of chicken tenders and jojos. For some reason mine was dry and not as tasty as usual, Mary insisted hers was as good as normal. Anyway, onward and forward.


Our timing leaving Portland was perfect and we managed to avoid Seattle traffic – a first! The sky as we drove northward was looking more and more apocalyptic. Wildfires in BC were blowing that distinctive orange smoke south, and the haze grew thicker the further north we drove. We stopped in Mt. Vernon to hotel it overnight with a king sized bed and HGTV before 3 nights of tent camping. It felt like a good transition from town life to ‘out there’. We ate a late dinner at the local Applebees (yuck). A family across from us was celebrating their sons 21st birthday, and mom and dad were plying him with shots of bourbon. It was amusing and weird to watch that rite of passage similar and yet so different from our own.


In the morning we left Mt. Vernon around 9, ate breakfast at the hotel (yuck) and stopped at Fred Meyer to fill the cooler, gas tank, and pick up a new Barbie for Mary to model crochet prototypes dreamed up in the car. She has been named Travelonda d’Boocoupe. Mary crocheted up a hoodie sweater and a pair of shorts for her on the way into North Cascades.

We arrived at Colonial Creek Campground a little later than I wanted, but snagged site #106, one of the last remaining ones aside from walk-ins. After setting up camp in our bower for the next 3 nights we drove back to the ranger station in Newhalem.


They had a nice exhibit describing the geological features and wildlife of the park, including this large stuffed slug that I loved! I stamped my national parks passport book, and we checked out the trails there for possible future hiking. On the way back to the campsite we stopped at the village and picked up some drinks and snacks, and then headed to the Gorge Overlook. The half mile or so trail was gloriously wooded and shaded, a welcome relief from the lingering heat wave. The haze was obscuring some of the scenery, but the views were still fabulous.


We dropped in for a brief peek at the beach across Highway 20 from the campground, and snapped some photos. I waded into the water to mid-calf. Shockingly cold at first but quickly got used to it, and I was looking forward to a nice long float the next day in our favorite tubes. We also scouted the trail in the campground that we also hoped to hike the next day.


Travelonda, the new raven that we picked up at the ranger station, and our favorite travelling companions watched over while we made a dinner of hamburgers with grilled onions, mac and cheese,  baby carrots, and MOOSE DROOL! Finally some yum! Hurray for camp food! After getting everything stowed away in the provided bear box we settled down at the picnic table for some serious crochet and journaling. Kids and dogs barking in the campground kept the night pretty loud. A group camp across the road from us had a birthday party including cake and a “damn-the-ban” campfire, their previous relative mellow turned to raucous sugar high quickly.


We hit the sack early for some cot reading, but I fell asleep after 20 pages or so. Mary said the sugar highers went on for ages, but since I didn’t sleep well the night before I crashed hard and slept through it. There was a brief thundershower overnight, but the remainder of the night was delightfully dark and quiet. We woke up the next morning to a 3 hour thunderstorm.  After nearly a month of no rain, and many years since experiencing a decent thunderstorm it was very exciting! The thunder echoing off the steep mountains surrounding us was amazing. The rain finally tapered off enough for us to get out of the tent around noon and make some coffee and eat breakfast.

Since the weather continued to look iffy and was significantly cooler we decided to skip floating and  jump straight to hiking. We drove to the Wilderness ranger station in Marblemount to ask about moderate ~3 milers near our campground. They directed us to the trail in camp, and another very popular trail right across the road. We popped into the Newhalem store again on the way back to Colonial Creek so Mary could pick up some Calamine for a palm sized evil fly bite she got on her leg. Once back at camp we made a late lunch of hot dogs rolled up in grilled cheese halves with more grilled onions, yummers!

After lunch the sky cleared and we set out to do an out-and-back three miler up the Thunder Creek trail, the ranger had told us a bridge over the river was a good turn around point. The trail was through dense forest next to the creek with that fresh after rain smell – earthy and unbelievably delicious. The water in the creek was a smoky teal grey from rock flour and moving quite rapidly after the morning rain. There were quite a few people on the trail, but it never felt too crowded. A nice soft easy trail to get the legs warmed up after the long drive.



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Once back at camp we were greeted by a slug army. What is this slimy brown cat turd climbing up our tent!?! I had to evacuate several slugs and a few green stink bugs from our general area, hopefully they all enjoyed the nice trees I placed them on. Meanwhile in camp there was a dude who kept yelling out “Yaaaaa-Hupp” over and over. It went on day and night so I don’t know if he had Tourettes or was just a loud arsehole.


After eating an ungodly amount of grilled onions in a third meal of chicken tenders with curried noodles our stomachs rebelled all night long in the tent.”Yaaaaa-huuuupppp”. Fortunately we didn’t asphyxiate ourselves, and lived to hike another day! No internet bliss! No campfires allowed though, so no night time s’mores activity either. :( Our loop of the campground quieted overnight, the group camp aka “the human zoo” left, and we had a passed out biker (bicycle kind), and a quiet couple on either side.

Sunday morning we woke up around 10 to sounds of the campground packing up and leaving for the work week, no more “Yaaaaa-huuuppp”! Yay! We talked a bit about the weird noise in the middle of the night we both heard and after research what I think was a barred owl call. After breakfast we got our hiking duds on and headed across the road to hike the Thunder Knob Trail.

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We danced a true groove at the top of the trail, and picked up a few interesting metamorphic rocks, don’t find many of those round these parts, very exiting! I’ll let the pictures of the hike speak for themselves, but in a word –  spectacular. After the 3.6 mileish hike we boogied back to camp for cheeseburgers and carrots, but didn’t linger too long as our camp bower was cold and clammy. We decided to get our creative gear out and found an awesome pier on the river to relax on, watching birds and people try to fly and paddle on the extra breezy waters. Watched some kids throw rocks in, and just lazily drew and crocheted in the sunshine until it got too chilly. Back at camp I set up the hammock for Mary to crochet in, and I took a nap in the tent.

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The next morning we packed up our camp and hit the road. We drove east on highway 20 and stopped at the amazing Diablo Lake overlook. WOW! There are some awesome metamorphic swirls on the road cut across from the overlook so check those out too if you’re up that way.


Washington Pass is the last pass before hitting the east side of the cascades, and we had to stop and grab some pics. Next time we’ll hit the trail there that supposedly has a 700 foot cliff and amazing views as well. We turned south on 97 and drove back through central Washington as I had never been that route before. Through the eastern edge of the Cascades and into high desert country rolling over its golden ridges. We passed countless fruit orchards, cherries, apples, pears, peaches, etc. and through a number of apple maggot quarantine zones. It was a slow route taking over 9 hours to reach home, but it was totally worth it for it’s ever changing geography, topography, temperature…so many trees.


We ate lunch in Wenatchee, and I captured a cloudy halo in the back window as we packed in for the final push to Cascade Locks and home!


We arrived in Cascade Locks a little after 8 pm, and drove up to a closed sign at “The Cone”.  We both screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! But I noticed a girl with two sodas standing at the window so I told Mary to jump out and see if we could still get cones! The woman at the window told Mary she just cleaned the machine, and Mary said we just drove 9 hours for this cone – but then the girl (her daughter) said “Mom, let that lady have a cone, she really wants one. And it’s money!” So she did, and we coned! YAY! East Wind Cafe you rule!

26The final bit of the drive was a golden sunset through the Gorge, and then home to happy cats. Another fun adventure in nature – relaxing, rain-filled, cool, full of gorgeousness, full of hiking and challenging ourselves to wander!

Critter Watch:
Slugs, inch worms, chipmunks, Stellars Jay, robins, ravens, loons, canadian geese, other ducks, other water birds, warbling birds, tiny bees, flies, mosquitoes, green stink bug, 3 small deer including 2 with tiny new horns, 2 elk, heard a barred owl, various unidentified butterflies and other insects.

Summer Project Launch!

I’m finally exited to share with you the launch of my summer (and beyond) project A Field Guide to Wondrous Things. A few of you are aware that for the past 3 years I’ve been doing a semi-secret Youtube channel. I’ve posted over 100 videos on that channel and have over 2000 subscribers, and it’s served as an awesome way to connect with others, and experiment with video content creation. It’s been quite an adventure, but only plays to two of my passions. Now I’m looking to connect with more of my life-driving passions, and a much wider audience.

That’s where A Field Guide to Wondrous Things takes over. On AFG2WT I’m going to focus on the intersection of art/science/storytelling and the natural world. These are topics I’ve been interested in exploring in the past, but I’ve never had a super clear vision of how. I’ve thought about a magazine (TBD), I’ve thought about an art space, and I’ve thought about longer animated pieces. Video is the happy medium for me for right now, but I do plan to roll out content in other mediums as the project unfolds.

So without further ado I present the first introductory episode of A Field Guide to Wondrous Things called The Green Between:

If the project excites, stimulates, intrigues, or makes you do a happy dance please consider supporting the channel in some fashion. I’m specifically looking for any or all of  the following:

  • gas or equipment $
  • a GoPro camera
  • sound equipment upgrade (wireless lavalier mic)
  • a 10 sec introductory tune
  • collaborators & other creative wanderers
  • smiles, encouragement and spontaneous dance parties!

Contact me if you would like to donate equipment, or you can donate directly through my Youtube channel or right here! Thanks for your support!

You can find AFG2WT on the web at :

A Field Guide to Wondrous Things (Youtube)

WondrousFieldGuide (Instagram)

AFG2WT on Hargie.com (PDFs & Links to other content)


Veda Lake Trail, Mt. Hood N.F.

Veda Lake Trail – ~2.4 miles

On July 1st to escape the heat and get our float on one visiting Jimbo, Mary, and I headed up to hike the Veda Lake trail on Mt. Hood. The drive up to the trailhead includes ~3 miles of super bumpy road – high clearance vehicle is absolutely necessary. If it’s a clear day you get a fantastic view of Mt. Jefferson about half way up. There seem to be quite a number of trails off this road, and a large number of former campsites with fire rings and some picnic tables. Seems like a great place for a first primitive camping or backpacking overnighter not being too far from Government Camp but still feeling plenty “out there”.


One of the highlights of the trail, besides being blissfully short, are the incredible views of Mt. Hood. We lucked out with an SCUV day (severe clear unlimited visibility), the kinda day that always reminds me of 9/11, and from the top of Veda Peak enjoyed the vista above with our first peek of Veda Lake. From this vantage point the lake looked like a long slog downhill, but the trail has very gradual switchbacks and it didn’t take nearly as long to get down as expected. In fact the only “tough” section is right at the beginning with a 1/4 mile pretty steep uphill, but the overall trail is rated as “easy” and I think that’s a fair grading.


Once down to the lake it didn’t take long for us to get in the water. It felt wonderfully cool after the hike in, and we floated around for a good 1/2-1 hour. This summer has been unusually and incredibly hot, and even escaping to the mountains hasn’t been much of an escape from the heat. Having a lake to swim in (and not being too cold) mid-hike was perfect. We passed a couple backpackers with their kids on the hike down, but there was no one there when we arrived. Another couple of backpackers with kids arrived while we were swimming, and we passed another couple on the way up – so it seems like a pretty popular place to take kids and people for a first backpacking adventure. There are a number of level campgrounds located around the lake, but sound travels, so if there were a lot of kids/people there it might be loud on busy weekends.


I read that there were crawfish in the lake, and there was a trap left on the “beach” but I didn’t see any until I finished my float. Then two decided to crawl right up to the shoreline and I managed to get a good shot in. Funny to see them in the lake, and I imagine that their population gets pretty scarce by the end of the summer.


The locally known Mt. Hood lily, actual name Washington lily (Lilium washingtonianum Kellogg), has a colorful and interesting story. Wonderfully fragrant and varying in color and speckled texture they livened the switchbacks down to the lake, picking up where the rhodie and bear grass blooms were fading.


It was great getting out of town for the day, visiting with Jimbo for another PNW hike, and getting our float on! Can’t wait to come back for a little backpacking adventure some time. It’s a toss up between Bear Lake and Veda Lake now…

Critter watch: Crawfish, chippies, insects, birds