August 2011

In Colorado, the highest mountains are those over 14,000 feet and are aptly referred to as “14ers”.  With the high altitude, lack of oxygen, and strenuous trails, hiking 14ers is a popular activity.  For my (Nicolas) birthday weekend, he and a couple of old friends hiked four 14ers in a single day!  Typically this isn’t possible, but these particular mountains are right next to each other, the trail starts above treeline (the elevation in which trees cease to be able to grow), and the trail is only 7.5 miles long.  Myself and the guys (Matt and Ben) camped along the trail Friday night, hiked Saturday, then stayed the final night camping.

The first peak to summit is Mt. Democrat, which is easily the busiest trail as everyone has to come and down the same trail.  Plus, the majority of people hiking that day are only doing Democrat, not the others.  After descending Democrat, half is a saddle in which you then can summit Mt. Cameron.  This was our half-way point in the day where we breaked for lunch.  Then, the trail goes down the eastish side of Cameron to Mt. Lincoln.  It’s a hairline ridge with steep drops on both sides (I wish I’d taken a picture of it), but it is still safe to do!  Afterward coming back down the back side, you then take a shoulder trail alongside Cameron to summit Mt. Bross.  This was by far the easiest of the four – and having a great reserve of energy, I actually jogged up the last 300 yards or so of the peak!  The final decent of Bross is steep with lots of loose gravel.  It took awhile to arrive at the bottom, but to our surprise, cool mountain waterfall and creek was awaiting where we could splash our faces.  It was a great end to a spectacular hike.

Video of the first morning!

We were fortunate and blessed to have a recent two-week vacation in the Pacific Northwest coastal area.  Our adventure began with a late night flight to Seattle, landing after midnight local time.  Since Kara’s parents are staying in the area for the summer, they provided us with transportation and a place to sleep overnight.  The following morning we obtained our rental car and made the trek towards White Salmon, WA.

Our first night was camping at Takhlakh Lake, with a great reflecting view of the towering Mt. Adams (a glacier covered volcano).  This high altitude are had received an excessive amount of snow that year, so the campground was mostly snow-covered still.  Combined with the hoard of mosquitos, Takhlakh was only going to be an overnighter.

The next day, we were scheduled to meet the family of our good friends, the Curry’s.  Ken’s brother, Andy, took us for a whitewater rafting trip down the White Salmon River which has cliffs hovering high above on both sides.  This was our first rafting experience – it was great!  As a thank you, we took Andy to Everybody’s Brewing, a local brew pub.  Additionally that afternoon, we were given a tour of the vineyard were Ken’s father works part-time.  It has an outstanding view that overlooks Mt. Hood (Oregon) and the Columbia River.

The next portion of our trip was still in the White Salmon area, staying near Trout Lake.  We explored some of the local sights, such as the Ice Caves, Big Tree, and hiked to the top of Sleeping Beauty.  The Ice Caves are just that, underground caverns with ice formations.  Big Tree is kind of funny.  Out in the middle of almost nowhere is the largest known spruce tree in North America.  Finally we hiked Sleeping Beauty, which was a lookout used by the military.  It has wonderfully sweeping views in all directions.


Our original trip plans were to spend two days in the Columbia River gorge, but with the extra day around the Mt Adams area, we had to cut our gorge experience to a single day.  Camping overnight at Ainsworth State Park campground, we experienced seven waterfalls with HUGE drops!  While the most famous and well-known waterfall is Multnomah, our personal favorite was Latourell Falls, which you could climb behind for another perspective as well as good photographic opportunities!

The next portion of the trip was our longest stretch of travel – the Oregon coast.  Again, our original plan was only four days, but we extended it by another two days because, well, you just don’t get to see the ocean in Colorado!  We were able to explore almost every town and top beaches along Highway 101.  First we stayed at Cape Lookout (near Tillamook), followed by going south to South Beach (Newport), and finally heading north again to Nehalem Bay.  Highlights of activities  that we enjoyed include eating fresh seafood, Tillamook cheese factory, Rogue Brewery, Cape Perpetua and the tide pools, guided river kayaking, fresh seafood, Ecola State Park, Hatfield marine science center, climbing the Astoria column, Fort Steven State Park, and fresh seafood.

Our excursion was wrapped up with the Reimer family in Seattle and Bellingham. We enjoyed time with Kara’s parents and brother, sis-in-law, and nephew. We explored Seattle for a couple days including some fun on Lake Sammamish.  Kara’s parent are living on a camp property, where Jan volunteers by taking care of the flowers and they generously gave us a driver and boat to take out on the lake for a while to go tubing and Josh and Nick tried wakeboarding.  Afterwards, we then headed up to Bellingham to see her grandparents and celebrate with other extended family the 65th anniversary of their marriage.  Many of the Reimer family were able to be present, including Kara’s aunt and uncle from IN and their adult kids. We also had the opportunity to spend time with very dear friends, Ed and Goldie, who have adopted us as family.  It was fun exploring and hanging out on the farm and picking over one gallon of yummy organic raspberries.  Over all it was a fabulous vacation and we did not want it to end.

We hope that you’ll enjoy this 15 minute video our trip.  Thanks for reading and watching!  (For our email readers, you can see the video at