How We Spent Labor Day 2011 [Video]

Ethan takes a peek down below on the boat to Jetty Island.

What a great weekend to be out and about in the Seattle area. The weather was just splendid and the kids (and parents) in excellent moods!

On Saturday we headed north to meet up with my coworker Bryan and his family Annie, Lucy, and Luke for a visit to Jetty Island. Jetty Island is a little island located just  a few hundred yards from Everett. The Island is part of the City’s Park System and boat rides are free, though they can fill up pretty quick on the weekend. We took the 10am boat ride. We found a nice spot on the beach that looked towards Whidbey and Camano Islands. The kids enjoyed playing in the sand while the parents conversed…well as much as we could when you have four little ones. After a couple hours we headed back to mainland where we headed back home. It was a great visit to Jetty Island and with Bryan’s family. Continue reading “How We Spent Labor Day 2011 [Video]”

“That banana slug has antlers!”: A walk through St. Edward State Park

St. Edward State Park

“That banana slug has antlers!” Our little naturalist has a great view of the natural world and he calls it as he sees it. It’s our job to encourage his curiosity and his sense of wonder and if that means he sees antlers, then they’re…well, we’ll help him out and let him know that they’re actually antennae (or tentacles) and used to watch television. We just can’t lead him astray.

We spent last Sunday morning at St. Edward State Park in Kenmore. It’s a short drive from our house which made it convenient. We’d been traveling all week and didn’t feel like spending a lot of time in the car. The State Park is a former Catholic seminary and became a park in 1977. It’s primarily wooded and offers great hiking and mountain biking. Continue reading ““That banana slug has antlers!”: A walk through St. Edward State Park”

Carkeek Park is a Fantastic Outdoor Experience for Kids

Autumn at the Carkeek Park Beach in Seattle
Autumn enjoying the beach at Carkeek Park

A good friend of Laura’s recommended visiting Seattle’s Carkeek Park a couple months ago. After her first visit with the kids during one of her weekday outtings, she came home and told me that I’ve got to see this park. It’s fantastic!

We’ve since been to this great park in north Seattle four times. It offers all the fun a kid could want in a park: swings, Salmon slide, lots of hiking trails, big grassy area, beach access, viewing platform for the trains, and more. The key part of this park is, by design, you can teach about how a watershed works. There are interpretive signs and plenty of viewing areas of the creeks. I think everyone who visits will agree that the views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound from all areas are spectacular.

Ethan and Autumn have enjoyed the South Ridge Trail hike. It offers a couple fun bridges, plenty of flora to view, trees to climb in and around, and nice views of the forest canopy. It’s only 2 miles or so and we’ve been able to do it in an hour with Ethan and his trusty explore pack.

If you’re in the area we recommend stopping by Carkeek Park for a few hours. Your kids will love you for it.

Tiger Mountain Hike….Grrrrrrr

Tiger Mountain Hike
Tiger Mountain Hike

In keeping with our streak for the New Year, we’ve spent at least one day the last three weekends hiking or playing in the outdoors. We’ve always been avid hikers but took some time off in November and December due to travel, weather, and illness. We’ve been working hard these past few weeks to ensure the kids get out, rain or shine. With today being the sunnier day than tomorrow, we headed a little south to Tiger Mountain State Forest for a nice hike aimed just for children.

Tiger Mountain State Forest is a forest managed by the City of Issaquah and State of Washington Department of Ecology located off I-90. It’s close proximity to Seattle makes this a very popular hike. We arrived around 10am just as the parking lot was filling up. I was surprised that no fees were required since the State is hurting for funds. The trails are well maintained, as are the signs, but for all the use they should be offsetting the costs.

Tiger Mountain Hike at Tiger Mountain State ForestAnyways, we decided to hike on one of the many family friendly trails from High Point Trail Head that offer flat terrain for Ethan to easily hike. There are plenty of strenuous hikes around and up the mountain for those seeking a more challenging hike. We started on the Around the Lake Trail then came back on the Bus Trail. Both trails provided about 2 miles of hiking  which was plenty for Ethan. There were interpretive signs along the Around the Lake Trail that provided some great teaching moments for Ethan. He now knows how to identify a Western Red Cedar. An unusual site is found on the Bus Trail where an old bus lies on it’s side. It’s been there for decades and has been visited by plenty of bullets. Ethan found it very intriguing and wondered how it got here. His one theory is that the bus driver died and the bus was now stuck. Hmmmm.

Tiger Mountain Hike at Tiger Mountain State ForestFor this hike Ethan wanted to wear his backpack loaded with his binoculars, compass, rain jacket, and water. He was very excited for this expedition and wanted to be prepared. Throughout the hike he enjoyed looking for wildlife with his binoculars. Of course every time he tried he always said he couldn’t see anything out of the binoculars despite our best efforts to focus his eyes. We’ll keep trying. He also tried fishing with his “fishing pole”  or stick of the day. On every hike we take him on he finds a stick or five to carry along or share with us. At the end of the hike he’s required to leave them at the trailhead so the animals can use them.

Autumn rode in the Kelty backpack for the second time. She generally remained silent, perhaps stubborn because she wouldn’t crack a smile, and took in the views from her perch on me. By the end of the hike she was asleep and kept this way until we arrived home.

Story Behind The Picture #3: Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue


One Eyed Brett Holt
One Eyed Brett Holt

Summer 1996 (Yosemite National Park): Lacerated pupil. On the evening of June 12, my roommate Greg and friend Melissa were in Oakhurst doing our weekly shopping. At about 10pm, we received a page to return to Yosemite Valley to assist in an ongoing rescue operation on North Dome gully. A climber had slipped down the gully earlier in the evening after climbing Royal Arches. When he slipped a rock dislodged from above and slammed on his left arm leaving him a compound fracture. He was losing blood and not able to descend on his own. I arrived on scene about 12:30am to assist in the lowering operation. Here is what I wrote in my journal:

“The lowering operation was consistent but slow. Lots of people falling, slipping rocks, sliding, lots of passovers. Around 300 feet from the bottom I was carrying the litter and sliding down a rock. As I went over the rock another rescuer went on the trail to the side of the rock. He stepped on a stick and it slammed me in the eye. I immediately fell and let go of the litter. I couldn’t see and had to be assisted down the hill.”

At the bottom, I joined the patient in the ambulance and we were both driven to the Yosemite hospital. The doctor was able to clean a lot of my injury but sent me to an eye specialist in Modesto for further examination. The specialist, Dr. Guido, concluded that I had a lacerated pupil but he wasn’t going to stitch it for fear it would scar and impair my vision. As a result I was driven to see him every day for two weeks straight just so he could see if any liquid was being released. I wore the bandage the entire time  and went on light duty. I did fully recover from the incident and completed my summer on the Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue team.

This photo says it all about where my nickname in Boy Kicks Girl came from. After Kevin saw me with the bandage, he immediately named me “One Eyed Brett”.

This selection of photos highlights many of the incidents I participated in during the summer of 1996. I searched for a lost backcountry ranger in Kings Canyon National Park scoured for bodies in the Happy Aisle rockslide, watched a highline walker on Lost Arrow Spire, befriended then unknown adventure photographer Tyler Stableford and enjoyed one of the best summers ever.