October 06, 2013


She's back!  So sorry about that hiccup over the past month!  I haven't had internet on my laptop so it's been touch & go here for MandiCrocker.  And yet, I have soooo much to share with you!!!  :)  :)  :)

Life has been tremendous!  I moved out of my aunt & uncle's place and now rent a room in a giant, empty house.  I've made it look exceptionally cute, if I do say so myself! I feel much more settled and have begun to cook a whole bunch... It's a nice, quiet life and I'm soaking up every minute. Expect some fun recipes in the future as well!  I ordered a bunch of cookbooks right before I left Chicago & never had a chance to use them. With a gorgeous kitchen? I'M EXCITED.  :)  :) :)

But first!  More of the Methow Valley!!!

I'd like to take you on another hike:  GOAT PEAK!

Goat Peak is extremely special to me because it's the very first hike I did in Mazama with my family. Our first trip was in June.  We had to hike through patches of snow and the fog was so thick everything around us was just white.  We didn't get to experience the views but I thought it was still beautiful in a haunting sort of way.  :)

The fog began to clear a bit as we headed back down the mountain becaaaaause as soon as we piled into the car it began to downpour!  Talk about perfect timing.  :)

The first time we went, I was completely out of shape.  In fact, I'm STILL out of shape but at the time of this first hike, I was probably the heaviest I've ever been in my life.  My aunt kept asking if I was going to have a heart attack. I knew I had gained a lot of weight but I don't think I knew juuuust how much.  It happens.

A month later, with lots of mountain biking, rock climbing and with a few longer distance hikes under my belt, I decided to go again.  It was MUCH easier.  I was MUCH faster.  I was MUCH stronger.  I was a Kanye West song!  It felt good.  :)  And with views this time, it was even more beautiful!!!

These trees get weighed down because of the snow... Crazy, huh?

Look at that big honkin' tree!  :)  And then look at those gorgeous mountains in the background.. can you imagine???

I love these big fat trees.  They look totally huggable.  :)

This trail was about five miles total.  It's considered a steep trail.

When I told folks that my family & I did Goat Peak together they'd ask me two things with a puzzled look:

1)  Did you... go to the top?

2)  Isn't that a kinda hard hike?

A-CLEARLY they were aware of my hips... but not aware of my MAD FIERCE DETERMINATION.  ;)

I took A LOT of breaks.  It was grueling. But there was no doubt in my mind as to whether or not I was going to make it to the top.  Not because I was stubborn or adamant but just because I knew I could.  It wasn't remotely impossible to me. It was super uncomfortable to do in the body I was in at the time. My aunt would mention stopping or 'if you can't make it' and I would just say, "Nope I can do this-- it just won't be as fast as everyone else." And that's pretty much how it is with me and hiking!  

I wrote a poem on the trail:

Slow pace
deep breathing
red face
dry heaving.

The end. YAY!!!

The second time???  FLOWERS EVERYWHERE JUST FOR ME!!!! :)  :)  :)

I love this gnarly old tree!  When I was a kid, I used to listen to this Christian kid's story on tape called 'Nathaniel The Grublet." In the story, Nathaniel has to go through a scary part of forest called "Direwood."  I'm pretty sure all of the trees in Direwood look like this.  :)

Oh my God, I love 'Nathaniel The Grublet.'

Goat Peak L.O.!?  What does that mean!?


On top of Goat Peak is a fire look-out!  A man the locals call 'Lightening Bill,' lives on the top of the mountain for the summer and scopes the area for any signs of fire.

This part of the hike was incredibly beautiful.  I'm soooo glad I went again!  Those purple flowers popped up everywhere!  I kinda wanted to take a 5th grade picture here with a jean jacket over my shoulder.  But you need a turtleneck and sweater for those kinds of pictures... *sigh*

BEAUTIFUL.  :)  :)  :)

This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole day.  For whatever reason it reminds me of my childhood.  I think it's because I had a lavendar bedroom growing up. Maybe the girly flowers--???  
Who knows!  I'm weird!!!

My aunt said I'm the most determined person she's ever met.  Which, if you knew my aunt, you'd know that's a HUGE compliment.  My aunt is tough as nails.  Whenever someone has doubted her ability or passion for something she just responds by doing it.  She's climbed Mount McKinley THREE times and was the first woman to complete Montezuma's Revenge, which is a 24 hour ultra-endurance mountain bike wilderness race in Colorado that usually involves a very high mountain.  WAY higher than this one! ;)

Sooo... if SHE thinks I'm determined...

...Then I'm pretty sure she's losing it.  JUST KIDDING!!!  :)

No, I think I'm determined.  But I think my aunt is more stubborn and better at wanting to prove people wrong.  I don't care that much.  She has an inner drive that is pretty incredible! I just like lavendar flowers. HA!

Hey!!!  Who's the old, wise sage!!???  It's a short Gandalph without a hat!

Almost there!!!

I wanted to time myself a bit and see how fast I could do it a month later. I went a quick and steady pace until I wanted to take a picture.  I took A LOT of pictures... but I would always go back to pushing myself.  Strength is a cool feeling.  :)

And eventually I got to the... WAIT, WHAT!?  WHERE'S THE TOP!??

Needless to say, in all my dry heaving, I must have blocked out that there was a Fake Top.  An Almost Peak.  A Plastic Summit.  A HIKE WITH TWO ENDINGS.

Or at least that's what I call it!  You think you've summitted, you get there and CRAP if it's not just a plateau...  UGH. LIES!  DECEIT!  ;)  Thankfully, it's beautiful.  :)  :)  :)

And there's the Look Out!  Can you see it on the top of the mountain on the left?  It half reminds me of Star Wars and half of the house from 'Up!' right by Paradise Falls.  :)

Lightening Bill gets to experience some gorgeous views, doesn't he?  

This is a look back on the plateau hiking up to the Look Out.

This is another look back once I finally began to scale the LEGITIMATE, ACTUAL peak.

So annoying...  ;)

And it's the LOOK OUT!!!  Isn't it cool!!??  :)  :)  :)

By the way, aside from the 'Welcome To Goat Peak' rock, I don't remember a THING about the trail itself.  My head was down the entire time.  It was so hard, I would look at a rock a few feet in front of me and tell myself, "Just get to that rock, just get to that rock..."

At the top is a cairn in memory & honor of all the Look Outs over the years.

And as you're about to enter the Lightening Bill's humble abode...

Pretty amazing, huh?  Don't be jealous. He said when there are thunderstorms, it's incredibly scary and when he invited friends up during bad weather, he watched a grown man cry from fear.  I never thought about that part!

This is Lightening Bill!!!

Lightening Bill is a bit eccentric, very friendly and an incredibly chatty man.  He is an artist and feel free to check out his web page Lightening Bill Arts.  On this day in particular, he was in the process of designing a t-shirt for Nell's Cafe in Bridgeport, Washington.  He was incredibly proud of the project!

This is where he lives a couple months out of the year, during the height of fire season.  He can only hike down once (?) a week for water and supplies.

Lightening Bill is also teaching himself the guitar.  He even played a song for me!

This is one of his cute doagies.  :)

He's heard the song PLENTY.  ;)

Lightening Bill sells t-shirts he designed at The General Store in Mazama.  He gave me a bunch of business cards to take back with me.

Beautiful view, huh?

This is a FANTASTIC place for a bench.  :)

After our chat, I gave Lightening Bill some Strawberry Almond Bread and headed back home.  I know the plateau is a fake summit but it's a 360 degree view... incredibly beautiful!

Also, a great thing about hiking different parts of the year-- or multiple times in the same season!-- is that you see each trail in a new light. Literally!

New light, new flowers, new mountains, new snow... There's always something you missed the first time.  Or maybe (like me!) these flowers were deep under the surface only a month before, just needing a little strength to make it to the top.  :)


If you'd have told me I'd be hiking through flowered snow capped mountains a year ago, I'd say you were nuts.  In fact, it's weird to think that at the start of the year I was working as a General Manager in Chicago.  Two completely different lives.  I'm happy to be here.  :)

Life, you can surprise me like this anytime you want!  "Yes, thank you!  More please!"  :)

All in all... a GREAT hike.  :)

And no tall tale, it really happened I swear!!!  ;)

Thanks for coming along for the hike!!!  There will be more soon.  :)  :)  :)

Much love,
Mandi The Grublet

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