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.

Have Kids, Will Travel

We love to pack up the car and head out for the day or weekend. Laura and I have done it since we’ve known each other and we have continued it with our children. Almost since Ethan and Autumn’s first month of life, we were driving 2 to 4 hours to visit family. Our travels include visiting Oregon every other month (4 hour drive), driving to California from Portland, camping in eastern Oregon, and many many day trips in whatever area we live. In addition to car trips, Ethan has been on four (to and from California) and Autumn on two (to and from Chicago) airplane trips. Through it all our children have done extremely well. We thought we’d share what we learned from our experience to make your journey with your children more enjoyable.

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Ethan and Autumn’s Top Five Favorite Children’s Songs

Music. We love it. A lot! Our radio constantly pours music throughout every corner of our house. As a result we have two children who truly love to listen, watch, and dance to music. Whereas Autumn is just learning how to interact with it, Ethan loves to listen and dance around the house to his favorite songs. We thought we’d share a list of those songs that get their toes tappin’, feet stompin’, hands clappin’, and butt shakin’.
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Big Four Ice Caves Hike (Mountain Loop Highway)

Autumn hanging out at the Big Four Ice Caves
Autumn stays warm in front of the Big Four Ice Caves.

Another gorgeous weekend in the Seattle area provided the opportunity to hit the trail. We got a mid-morning start today and headed back to the Darrington District on the Snoqualmie-Mt. Baker National Forest where we hiked the Big Four Ice Caves trail – located about 1.5 hour north of Seattle on the Mountain Loop Highway.

Despite the beautiful hike, the drive up to the trailhead is as much fun as the hike. The Mountain Loop Highway is spectacular this time of year as the deciduous trees prepare for the winter months. There are a few small towns that dot the landscape but it’s pretty much just forested land along the Stillaguamish River.

20101017_0526The weather was a little cool this morning and produced ice on the boardwalks in the lower part of the trail. Ethan loved scarping all the ice off the boardwalk planks and resting benches. He also liked to taste it which we tried to put a stop too. He is an explorer and is very comfortable on a trail. He’ll explore anything and everything along the trail which is why it took about an hour to go the one mile length of the trail, and 45 minutes back down. We answered his questions and identified flora along the way. We also gently persuaded him to keep trekking. Don’t get us wrong, we know it’s all about the journey and not the end, but there are only so many mushrooms we enjoy viewing.

Autumn yapped most of the way up before succumbing to yapping fatigue and fell asleep. We woke her up for pictures, which she kindly obliged us with, and fell back asleep. This was her first hike in our Kelty Child Carrier and she did superb. It was nice for Laura to move around a bit more and I was happy to not have to chase Ethan.

20101017_0579We actually avoided the ice caves. We stayed on the trail and viewed them from a far where our kids were safe. There are plenty of warnings to not go near them or in them because of the chance that the ice will fall. Just a few months ago an 11 year old was killed while near one. But from what we could see it was a neat formation to visit.

We’re glad for the mid-morning start because when we got back to the trailhead the parking lot was almost full. There is no doubt this is a popular hike. The trail is one mile up a gentle slope to the base of the Big Four Mountains. The trail is in great shape with the first 1/8 mile paved and the rest either a wood boardwalk or compacted crushed rock. There is/was a lot of trail work that has made this a very accessible hike.

This is definitely a hike we’d do again with friends and family. It’s an easy hike for children (Ethan did the entire hike except for stream crossing where the bridge was being repaired) and a great drive through the forest.

You’ve lived in how many homes in the last decade?

We have history of moving. A lot! Ever since we left our childhood homes in San Jose, California (Brett) and Newberg, Oregon (Laura), we’ve moved frequently for a variety of reasons. Job. Change of scenery. School. Most moves have been our decision, though, we’ve been more enthusiastic about some more than others.

So exactly how many places have we called home in the last decade? 17 to be exact.

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