Monday 18 June 2012

Skinny dip anyone? PNW hikes, Its Hike Week!!

Everyone loves a good dip! If you have ever left the party with the regretful overfull feeling, this one's for you! Summer is party time, so many birthdays, family reunions, vacations and party, party, party! When it is party time most of us tend to do the mindless eating pattern, munching, dipping and drinking, a huge source of calories. Many dips are made with high fat, high calorie ingredients and yes.... they are yummy. With the Fourth of July coming soon, I am giving you a yummy dip that is really good for you, and a bit less than 60 calories for a tablespoon.

Pictured, Pistachio dip, salsa, and a Horseradish dip.

Pistachio Pesto
adapted from Diane Morgan

This decadent  pesto is so yummy. One whole batch, about 1 1/2 cups or 24 tablespoons is 1400 calories. I served this with Naked sea salt pita chips, everyone loved it. The first night I made it, my son in law devoured the entire bowl (half batch)! The second time, I made a full recipe,  he wrapped up the little bit left, for dipping on another night! It should be served room temperature, so, if you make it ahead, take it out about 45 minutes ahead.

2 cloves of garlic
1 c. shelled unsalted roasted pistachios
24 large Fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/4 c. coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. water
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

In the work bowl  of a food processor, fitted with metal blade, process garlic until finely minced. Add the pistachio's, basil, and parsley and pulse several times until finely chopped.. Add Parmesan and pulse just until combined. Add the olive oil, water, lemon juice and salt. Process just until the pesto is well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

*Dipping Do Ahead: you can make this pesto up to three days ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving. You may also freeze this dip for up to 2 months. Thaw in refrigerator.

*Dip with: Crostini, Naked baked pita chips, crudites or bruschetta. Also, would be good as a relish on poached shrimp.

Hike week is here!! We have done two hikes already, and this morning are headed out on another rainy hike! We changed plans, as the hike we had planned, Mt. Si, won't reap rewards for us in the rain.  We are pumped up and excited for next four hikes, then off to Lake Chelan for some family fun! Wine tasting, boating, swimming, jet ski's and yes, more hiking!! We have more than 20 family members going with three boats, wake boards, large fun tubes and various other water toys! Lake Chelan is about 2 hours from Seattle and a sunny place to go on the East side of Washington. More on Lake Chelan, next week! I will dedicate a week to "Discover Lake Chelan"!

Hike week is 6 days of hikes. Friends and family join in as they can fit into their schedule. My daughter, Holly and I design the week, depending on who is hiking that day, but, generally try to have a moderate hike to start, then increase intensity or length as the week progresses. We chat aimlessly, sometimes with too many conversations going all at once!! We keep it fun, thinking of fun ways to take pictures or a fun theme of the day! Before you know it we are at the midpoint of our hike and we sit for lunch! We soak in the beautiful view, waterfall or river and just enjoy. After our hike, we enjoy a nice massage. Kind of our own spa/hiking camp! At the end of the week, we have lost a few pounds, inches and have better cardiovascular health. We have a celebratory dinner and are ready for Summer, which starts Wednesday, June 20!!

Our hiking group on the first day included, from left, Sweet One (Amy,my daughter in law), Nate Dogg (son in law), Holly(daughter), JJ (me), and Allie (my niece). Two pups, Emma and Bandit. Beautiful day for hiking and a beautiful view of the Puget Sound, Seattle and Bellevue!
Poo Poo Point- Saturday, Day 1

Poo Poo Point
Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain
Department of Natural Resources, South Puget Sound Region
Roundtrip 7.4 miles
Elevation Gain 1650 ft
Highest Point 1850 ft
Old growth
Mountain views
User info
Dogs allowed on leash
Discover Pass required and can be bought at REI, but if you park in the High School parking lot it is not required.

  It's time to go back to high school. Or maybe flight school. This Tiger Mountain path starts at Issaquah High School and ends at Poo Poo Point, where many paraglider pilots learn to fly their featherweight crafts. In between, you'll find wonderful old forests to explore and a grand path to follow.

Hike up the old railway turned trail about 0.25 mile before veering right onto the service road known as the Old State Road. Walk around the gate on this road and continue about 1 mile. Just after crossing an old clear-cut, climb under some high-tension powerlines and continue up the rocky slope. Stay right at the next trail junction (to the left is the Section Line Trail) to hop onto the Poo Poo Point Trail. Limited views southwest reveal Squak Mountain.

Like so many Issaquah Alps trails, the Poo Poo Point Trail was born from an old road. The path is still wide enough for two hikers to trek side-by-side much of the time. More often, however, thick wildflowers and bushes (some laden with delicious salmon berries) line the route and crowd it down to a single-track trail.

At about 2 miles you'll cross a broad plateau (elev. 1150 ft) before starting up into Many Creeks Valley. Some of the creeks giving the valley its name are seasonal, running only in spring, while others--notably Gap Creek--runs year round. The well-built Gap Creek Bridge is at 2.5 miles, from which you can view the creek's stair step falls and the remains of an old road bridge.
Past the creek, the trail continues to weave upward through the forest. You'll find some wonderful ancient trees, and plenty of reminders of the region's logging history (hint: look for old stumps with springboard notches). At 3.2 miles, stay right at the intersection with the West Tiger Railroad Grade.

Side note: At this point the trail will level out and eventually steeply decline for a small stint.  This feels great after doing the hike at an incline, but keep in mind... you must go back.  The first part of your return will be up hill.  Usually when we do this hike, we keep moving at the final look out point, so our muscles aren't stiff when we have to to do the last climb at the end.  Thankfully its not too long but something to be aware of.

In just another 0.5 mile, you'll come out into a small parking area, complete with high-tech composting toilet. It is smelly, so prepare yourself. Follow the trail around to the right side of the parking area to burst out into the bright sunshine on the grass bench that is Poo Poo Point. Hang gliders and paragliders launch off this grassy swale most afternoons spring through early autumn. Nonpilots can rest on the grassy hillside above the launch area, enjoying views of Issaquah Valley, Lake Sammamish, and the Bellevue skyline beyond. On clear days, Mount Baker can even be seen in the distance.

Driving Directions: From I-90 take exit 17 (Front Street) and turn right (south). After 0.6 mile turn left (east) onto East Sunset Way, and in two blocks turn right onto 2nd Avenue SE. In about 0.5 mile park near the high school or in the new high school parking lot. The trail begins just south of the school on the switchback of the old railroad grade.

Hike Week-Day 2 Otter and Big Creek Falls 

A lovely end of Spring day! Non stop Seattle rain, it's Father's Day! However, it was sun shining in Seattle (and MI)!! We were walking in water continuously and streams....seriously!! But, with a positive attitude, and a few fun antics we DID IT!!

It seems impossible: Finding quiet solitude on a back country trail leading through ancient cathedral forests and past magnificent waterfalls less than a hour from Seattle. Yet the Taylor River Trail offers just that. While nearby Mount Si bristles with sweating hikers, and the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trail hosts hordes of outdoor enthusiasts, the Taylor River Trail--an old road that's been reclaimed by the forest--goes largely unnoticed and unused. The sign at the trail head say's Snoqualmie trail, there is a map and a few notes from recent hikers.

Beautiful ancient forest!
Start up the Taylor River Road/trail and in about 0.4 mile, when the road forks, stay right--the left-hand trail leads to Lake Blethen and Rooster Mountain. Weave up the valley, and cross an old bridge structure at Marten Creek, about 3 miles up the track. Modern planking has been added to the bridge deck to ensure safe crossing. But once across, peer under the bridge to gain an appreciation of the type of timber harvested from this area. Huge cedar logs serve as the spanners that support the bridge.

From here, the trail rolls gently onto the Big Creek bridge at about 5 miles. This structure appears to be out of place here. The wide concrete bridge belongs on a highway - somewhere other than a back country trail - but it's a remnant of the old road and a developer's dream, a dream that fortunately died. The wide road that was planned into the headwaters of the Taylor River valley never progressed much beyond a logging road, and even that has largely disappeared, leaving this primitive trail.

The Big Creek bridge may be the first thing to grab your attention when you reach the creek, but it fades into the background as soon as you step onto its deck. Big Creek Falls tumbles off the hillside on the north side of the bridge - over a series of granite steps and down smooth granite faces to create a sparkling tapestry of watery jewels. A deep plunge pool lies at the foot of the falls, just below the bridge itself.

Big Creek Falls makes an ideal lunch stop - the sun streams down onto the bridge deck and the concrete curbing along its edges serves as a fine bench.

Be sure to pause on your way back to the trail head and take a side trip to Otter Falls. Watch for a small sign and a two cairns (pile of rocks) about 0.25 mile from Big Creek and a abandoned pair of shorts, hanging on a tree. The  side trail leads north through the woods for a few hundred yards, ending at a wide but shallow pool of water at the base of a huge vertical granite slab. A ribbon of water slides down the smooth gray rock face to splash into the pool. This is Lipsy Lake and Otter Falls.

Lunch break....crazy time!! Soaked through to our skin!!

Driving Directions: From Seattle, drive east on I-90 to exit 34 (Edgewick Road). Turn left (north) onto 468th Street and follow it to the junction with the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road (Forest Road 56). Turn right and continue up the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road for 12.5 miles to the Taylor River Road (just past the Middle Fork trailhead parking area). Turn left onto the Taylor River Road and drive to a wide parking area at its end, in about 0.5 mile.

If you live in the PNW, this is a nice hike, but I wouldn't recommend for small children, as there is a dangerous crossing with no bridge, at about the 3 1/2 mile point. We arrived at the crossing, when a foursome of hikers with two large dogs, were struggling to get their dogs across. We helped them, but, it could have been a disaster.

Have a healthy, happy week! Cheers! JJ

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