Once again, letterboxing has come through in a pinch and fooled the family into thinking a hike wasn't really a hike. You might recall that last month we started carving our own stamps for placement in letterboxes. Now that we had all these stamps, it was high time we started placing them.
In spite of its name, Poo Poo Point is a great spot to spend an evening. You can see the open "summit" from downtown Issaquah and especially the bright green astroturf runway. What? Yes, astroturf on a mountain. Poo Poo is the primary launching point for paragliders in our area. On a nice day, the brightly colored 'chutes float through the sky as long as the thermals last. (The world record is over 250 miles!) A gated road can deliver fliers to the launching area, but the hardcore hoof it up the Chirico Trail.
We're not fliers, but we're definitely hardcore. We hiked.
The Chirico Trail starts by crossing the landing zone in the valley and winds up through typical Northwest woods. It's a steep climb gaining more than 1,700 feet in less than two miles, but it's well maintained. Near the top the trail exits the trees briefly and provides a great view of Mt. Rainier to the south. The trail reenters the woods for the final, short climb to the summit. (Just before breaking out of the trees for the last time hikers are silhouetted against the sky. I always lag a little here to make sure I get the photo.)
There was a fair crowd lounging in the late afternoon sun (we had started at about 5:30pm), but we found a great spot to watch the paragliders. I learned a couple of things as they took off, tried to take off, and spiraled high into the sky.
1) I'm never going to go paragliding.
2) The kids are never going paragliding.
3) Amy better not tell me she's going paragliding until it's over and she's safe on the ground. (When we were only dating she went skydiving while I was out of town. I just about had a heart attack when I saw the certificate of accomplishment upon my return.)
We relaxed and had a picnic dinner before starting to head down. On the hike up, Amy had been scouting locations for the letterbox we were to plant and found a great one. The secret to planting a letterbox is that it should be impossible to find by accident, but if you follow the clues it shouldn't be too hard. I'd tell you where this one is, but that'd be cheating. You do want to find it, though, because it's got a genuine hand-carved stamp of a (spoiler alert!) paraglider.
The sun dropped low turning the woods a golden color as we descended. It finally cooled off, but being deep in the valley between Tiger and Squak Mountains it got dark quickly. We never needed the headlamps I was carrying, but had we been a few minutes slower it might have been advisable.
At the car I asked the kids what their favorite part of the hike was. The paragliders! The letterbox! The chips! I leave it to the reader to figure out who said what, but that none of them matched up with my "hiking with the whole family" didn't bother me too much. They'll get there even if they think they're just going letterboxing.