Cougars, Graupel, and Babies Who Look like Old Men: Week 3 of 52.

I won’t forsake you. I am the baby who looked like an old man.

Due to a very pleasant amount of downtime this weekend, I ended up going through a box of old pictures I forgot I had. Here’s what I learned:

  1. I was absolutely freaking adorable.
  2. I completely looked and, as soon as I was able to, dressed like a retiree.
  3. These two traits are not mutually exclusive. (see adorable baby below)

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Now, this old man thing may have root in the fact that I look just like my paternal grandfather, but it also came to mind when I came across a photo of myself and 3 girls from church dressed as angels for the nativity play (aaaw). The other girls were wearing dresses and pretty things, you know, like angels from books or movies. But me? Oh no. I had decided that the perfect look for an angel was a short-sleeve, button-up, striped, collared shirt. Oh yes. I can’t guarantee the bottom half of the outfit as it wasn’t pictured, but knowing me it was a crisp pair of your dad’s jeans. Now, I still hold that this is a wonderful outfit for an angel. It just also happens to be a wonderful outfit for the AARP member meeting at the senior center.

Due to the extensive throw-back session which took place on Saturday, along with Bryce being called into work that morning, this week we spent Sunday up on Cougar Mountain.

Week 3

Cougar Mountain is an easily accessible part of the “Issaquah Alps”, three beautiful, small mountains Southeast of Bellevue. There were warnings of a big storm in the Cascades this weekend, so my hope was to stay at lower elevations and potentially stay dry-ish. We chose to take the Anti-Aircraft Peak route laid out on Washington Trails Association, (with slight modification) which is a composed of sections of six independent trails. Our awesome friends Michael and Stephanie joined in, which is part of the reason why there will be very little comment on the fauna we passed, as there was plenty of conversation to steal our attention!

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This moss did stand out though!

We started off at the Clay Pit Road parking lot and headed up the road past the gate. We were quickly met by a “road closed” sign which we just as quickly ignored (we were on more of a trail anyway). It soon became apparent that the path was closed because a rather impressive dam had created a lake which was sitting a good 5 feet above the usual water line. I can’t say if the dam was built by flat-tailed creatures, or was a result of debris in the water, but it was interesting to look at and ponder what, or who, created it. Reasonably, the park authorities had closed this trail to prevent hikers from being present when the pressure becomes too much and the water in the lake inevitably decides it would rather be rushing across the trail. Moral of story: listen to signs even when they don’t accurately describe the surface you’re walking on.

As we navigated the multitudes of turns I had written on a piece of scratch paper (apparently a super old-school thing to do) and began to gain elevation, we were met by a new favorite phenomenon of mine: Graupel. Not snow, not hail, but icy clusters falling from the sky. It really started coming down as we reached the Harvey Manning Trailhead from the Shangri-La trail. (One other tidbit that we learned along the way: Anti-Aircraft Peak is now the Harvey Manning Trail. Who knew?) At this point there was a pergola overlooking Lake Sammamish, though we could only see the southernmost tip of the lake due to the previously mentioned graupel impeding our vision.

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I cannot guarantee this accumulation is graupel as we didn’t see it fall from the sky…         but one can hope.

The overlook was the highest point of our trek, so we headed back down the muddy, twisty Harvey Manning Trail until we reach the Clay Pit Road. At this point, we ignored the signs once more and walked past the awesome dam (don’t do this) and back into the nicely paved, albeit small, parking lot. All in all, the hike was about 6 miles, with an elevation gain estimated around 600 feet. A nice jaunt in the woods with some friends, awesome conversation, and a bit of graupel!

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