Summer of 2019

To be honest, I find it extremely difficult to squeeze in months and months worth of stories in a single post and balance it with the reader’s attention span(no offence). One might argue, that good writers manage to keep their audience engaged, no matter what. While I couldn’t agree more, travel is a genre of writing I’ve not yet figured out how to get right. I can never really recognize the aspects of my “adventures” anyone would be curious about. One might wonder, and I’m sure there are a few who already have, as to why I still force myself to go through this endeavor. The answer is because even though I do this with utmost reluctance, I do feel amazing about completing each and every post. The feeling is akin to actually making it for an early morning run on a cold, cloudy winter morning. There’s always the looming temptation to hit the snooze button one-more-time, but you subconsciously know that the endorphin rush at the end of the slog will make it all worth it. Publishing a post gives me a feeling of accomplishment that goes a long way in motivating me. I decided to write this post on my way back from my last trip. It’s easy to lose track of the good times when life is moving fast. Posts like these remind me of the pursuits that I find meaningful enough to continue doing. If I do get “bored” someday, I can just scroll back here to get some inspiration and remind myself of the what I need to start doing.

This particular post is a quick recollection of the past few months during which my wife, Lavanya and I travelled as much as we could to explore the great American outdoors. One of the highlights this year for us was buying a car(my first one). I’d avoided getting a vehicle for the longest time but finally hit a point where I was spending more money(and time) on rentals and ridesharing to jusify that decision any longer. I don’t know whether the stuff we ended up doing was a result of us having a car or not but we ended up making the most of it.

Without much further ado, I’ll describe our journey in what I’ll always remember as - The Summer of ‘19. I’ll try to keep the narration as short as possible and from this point on, this’ll be more of a photo blog with some Instagram snippets peppered in.

Mount Si

Mount Si is one of the most popular day hikes around Seattle and I’d completed it once a few years back, although with a completley different level of physical fitness. Couldn’t have asked for a better day to kick off the summer. The views were amzing and we were feeling great to be outdoors after such a long time. We also thought this’d be a good place to start to begin our training run. This was completed in better than expected time and we were pretty confident about our upcoming Mount Rainier climb, few months down the line. More on that later.

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Goat lake

A couple of hours up north from Seattle, Goat Lake is a pretty easy hike that navigates through a dense forest. The trail closely follows a creek upstream through a valley to its originating lake. This is a beautiful place to head on a summer day for a quick getaway, not too much sun to deal with with rewarding views at the end of the line.

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We were a bit tired, rather annoyed by the end of it because of the monotony of the walk through the forest but it was still better than almost anything we’d done in the city on a Saturday morning. Now that I think about it, I’m certain we’ve never regretted any decision that ended up taking us outdoors.

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While we initially set out last weekend to summit Mt Pugh, we had to change our plans at the last moment due to a report of bad trail conditions (which we ideally should have checked earlier) Luckily we were in the beautiful mountains of PNW which meant that there were more than enough other options to choose from; on a whim we decided Goat Lake. The trail runs completely flat through the forest (except for the last 20min) and is quite long, which made the walk a little monotonous in places for us. However, there is a lot of interesting flora to see and I entertained myself by trying my hand at some photography. The eventual opening to the lake almost comes as a surprise and the stunning landscape makes up a little bit for the long walk. Neither of us were brave enough to swim in the cold, cold water but we did spend some time just lazing on the shore. Overall, a weekend well spent :) #anotherdayanothertrail #goatlake #mountainloop

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Highway 101

The next weekend we headed out on a four day road trip from Seattle to San Fransico. It doesn’t really take that long if you’re zipping along I-5 but we decided to take a much scenic and leisurely drive down through Highway 101, all along the western coastline. The idea was to make frequent stops to take in the views without worrying about reaching the destination.

Since we were still in the early months of Summer, we expected the first couple of days through Washington and Oregon to be overcast at best and miserably wet at worst. We had the best time while cruising through the forests, coasts, sand dunes, valleys and mountains in the first few days. We also took a rather long, impromptou detour to see the amazing Crater Lake. It felt amazing to go from a coast, through a forest and up to a snow covered peak, all in a day. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the much vaunted ‘blueness’ of one of the most clear lakes in the world. Clouds to blame, but that’s a good excuse to make another trip. We were having a pretty amazing time, until we entered California. Ironically, the downpour in California was so intense that we just zipped past almost every place we’d initially planned to make pit stops at. No Redwoods, no coffee at sunny beaches, no stopping at the wineries and no sweeping views of the mountains. But in all the gloom that surrounded us, I suddenly realized I’d actually lived through an experience I’ve tried to get right in my imagination for the longest time.

I’ll try to paint a picture. Imagine driving down a desolate, straight two lane highway for as far as you can see. One one side, are lush hills and on the other, stretching along the road, the Pacfic coastline. The hills are vaguely visible with the clouds having descended low enough to cover their moderately high peaks. Violent waves are crashing against the rock face and you’re glad, at least ostensibly, to be at a safe distance from them. The intensity of the rain makes you turn the windshield wiper speed all the way up. And still, you’re having a hard time focussing on the road ahead. You can’t really talk to anyone in the car because of the constant hammering of raindrops. And at that moment, you play the one song that was meant to played nowhere else: Riders on the storm by The Doors. I almost always close my eyes to imagine the place I want to be in whenever I play this track. I don’t have to imagine anymore!

By the afternoon on our last day, we were in Cupertino and all set to spend the next three months living in and exploring California.

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I love road trips! And 101 is arguably one of the best treats for that, so it was exciting for @ric03uec and I to do the journey from Seattle to San Francisco through this route. I got my driving license only a week before the trip and I'm still trying to decide if testing out my newly learnt skills on these narrow single lane highways was crazy or the best decision ever? I may have had a close shave and gotten a speeding ticket in the process...but that's the rite of passage right? :D 1&2: Arcadia beach state, OR 3: From a viewpoint in Oswald West state park, OR 4: Boiler bay state viewpoint, OR 5,6,7: Yachats, OR -- Our favourite town ever, we might just end up here at 60 8: Sisters rock state park, OR 9: Crater lake, OR #highway101 #ontheroadagain #seattletosf #oregoncoast #oregonisbeautiful #craterlake

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Big Sur/Monterey

Contrary to what I initially thought, the four day long road trip did not adversly affect our enthusiasm to go on another one, the very next weekend. The first place on the checklist was a trip down to Big Sur along California SR-1 This is considered as (arguablly) the most scenic drive in the country and one of the most scenic in the world. Road trip aside, we also wanted to get some hiking done. We finally decided to hike up Timber Top. On our drive to the trailhead, we were greeted with a rather depressing overcast sky. We’d started internalizing the fact that the some higher powers are trying really hard to ensure we don’t get to experience the picturesque landscapes in all their glory like others have.

The hike pretty much made up for all the disappointment we’d gone through. Instead of dense forests and snow capped mountains we were used to, we were greeted with dry, sparse vegetation, gentle slopes and sweeping views of the the beautiful Big Sur coastline. All this only once we’d gained enough altitude.

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Kelly Lake

We decided to head to Kelly Lake for our next hike. Looking back at that day, all I can say is that we grossly underestimated the heat and only because of sheer luck made it back safely to the trailhead. In conclusion, a good hike with a lot of drama.

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Lake Tahoe

Well, you have to go to Tahoe if you’re in California. This was a short weekended trip we managed to sneak in between the crazy work schedule. As expected, Tahoe is always crowded with the advent of summer(presumably with people like us).

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Surfing @Santa Cruz

Once we were back from our two day surfing course, we realized we didn’t have even one picture of us actually surfing or at least with the surf boards. Nevertheless, I know we did learn the basics of surfing and had a great time trying to “catch” the waves, hopping on the board and crashing into other fellow-would-be-surfers.

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California SR-1

For the 4th of July weekend, we decided to travel the complete length of California SR-1 along the west coast all the way till San Diego with our friends @grasskode and @capturedbypaulina. Big Sur didn’t disappoint this time. The skies were clear and we experienced the ‘most scenic drive in the country’ in all its glory. We made it to San Diego in two days, spent some time exploring beaches, restaurants and, of course, the San Diego Zoo.

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Mount Rainer

The big day had finally arrived. We were back in Seattle in August and were all ready for attempting Mount Rainer summit, or so we thought. This was a four day expedition, out of which one day was for orientation, another for mountaineering day school to go over technical details of the climb and final two days for the actual climb. Well, without going to the agonizing and painful details, here’s the gist of what happened:

  • Both of us didn’t make it to the summit
  • I at least managed to get to the basecamp at Camp Muir
  • We grossly underestimated how difficult this was
  • We’re going to attempt this next year again, with better training

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The Rolling Stones

No point in letting one disappointment affect other plans I suppose. So, the weekend after our failed Mount Rainer summit attempt, we were all set to see one of the bands we’d grown up listening to perform live.

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ADK Encore

For our yearly trip, @grasskode, @arjunashokchoudhary and I ended up in Mexico for a week. We started with Cancun but moved to Playa Del Carmen later on. The highlights of the trip were cenotes, long road trips, philosophical arguments, startup discussions, bars and of course, lots and lots of tacos with habanero sauce.

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The Birthday High

By October, Seattle had started descending into the gloom everyone talks about. For her birthday, @wandering_hen wanted to go on a long camping trip regardless of the weather. Bold move. I was put in charge of figuring out the details. So before she landed in Seattle, I was all set with the packed bags, lots of food and and a 3 day camping trip itinerary around the Seven Lakes Basin in the Olympic National Park. This was our first camping trip together and we both agreed that there are few better ways to celebrate a birthday.

We had a late start from the trailhead on day 1 but we managed to reach the campsite at Deer Lake before sundown in about three hours. We went to bed early to be prepared for the long hike the next day. We estimated about 8 hours of walking with most of it uphill and last few hours to descend into the valley for the next campsite. We were pretty much on the spot with the estimation, except that we did get lost and probably spent an hour or two to find our way back. We were spent by the end of day two so we hurriedly had dinner and crashed. After a quick breakfast of granola bars and coffee, we walked four hours to get back to the trailhead. In another three hours, we were back home in Seattle.

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Closing

One thing that the time away from each other has taught us is to be extremely protective of the time we do spend with each other. I have to give it to Lavanya for being more aggressive in planning than I am. Of the many things I’ve learnt from her, this is the one I really aspire to get better at than her! I know I didn’t keep this post as short as I’d promised but I hope you don’t mind reading a bit more that what you signed up for.

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