Mapping and Re-capping

During our Summer of Rainier, we did 14 hikes in the park for just shy of 140 miles total, with our longest being 14 miles. While I’m not much for the numbers, even when a bunch of freaky 14s pop up like that (!), I do like to see it all mapped out, and thought you might, too. I divided the park map into quadrants and used my handy-dandy photo doodling tool to color-code our various routes. For even more fun, I will include a highlight photo from each hike, the captions of which will be links to the posts about those hikes. Because, you know, I don’t have enough other things I probably should be doing and neither do you.

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Sunrise Quadrant, yellow routes

We were lucky to get in our Sunrise hikes when we did because now this whole area of the park is closed due to nearby wildfires. Our boots did the most work in this quadrant with six of the fourteen hikes taking place here.

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Huckleberry Creek

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Here we did the second-most hikes at four. One is shown on the first map.

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Although this map shows four hikes, only two were done this year. The blue line that runs from Ipsut Creek Campground to Carbon Glacier we did at least 20 years ago, when it was still possible to drive to that camp and hike from there, and long before I blogged (or even had internet!) That hike would have been part of the 16-mile loop around Mother Mountain that we’d wanted to do two weeks ago on my birthday. I’m glad we did it when the road was still open because now the only way to see the grand suspension bridge over the Carbon River is to bike + hike or just hike a very long way. The fourth hike looks like the left part of the longest line, but the trail from Mowich Lake northwest to Tolmie Peak was a hike we did in 2012 when the internet did exist and I did blog.

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Tolmie Peak

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Nisqually Quadrant, orange routes

Only two hikes were done in this area, but they made up almost 24 of the total miles.

As you can see, we are nowhere near running out of hikes to do on The Mountain, and we are already making lists of when and where next season will take us. Don’t worry, I will still have outings to blog about between now and then when I probably should be doing other things.

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Spray Park, Mt. Rainier

I’ll just rip off the Band-Aid right away and tell you that we did not get in our 16-mile hike. You’ll recall I fell ill last weekend on my birthday and had to stay closer to home, and the weather this weekend was a little sickly itself. The hike we did do was what would have been the end of the big loop, aka Around Mother Mountain. We ended up doing just over half that distance as an out-and-back in order to avoid doing the other half in the rain.

I don’t know if it was the disappointment of not being able to do the longest hike to date on my birthday or the weather or what, but this didn’t end up being a favorite. I’m thinking it was all due to the timing. I will now show you photos that will make you question our slightly negative assessment of this hike.

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TBG (The Birthday Girl), modeling her new poles and sapphire-blue shirt, has the honor.

The morning, although forecast to be partly sunny, started off overcast with a little sprinkle. The weather last weekend on my birthday was ideal, natch.

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So speedy!

For the first few miles, the trail wound through the trees, and was very, very rooty in many places. There were also a lot of steps. I had a time of it getting used to sticks in both hands, whacking my way over the rocks and snarly roots.

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Eagle Cliff Viewpoint

The first waypoint of any note was this lookout, but the misty, fast-moving clouds prevented much looking out.

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Spray Park, is that you?

Unlike some of the other treks on Rainier, this one had no sign denoting when you’ve actually reached Spray Park proper. It made it a little difficult to gauge our actual mileage.

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Mt. Rainier, I know that’s you.

The views did open up, and the sun broke through off and on, but the wind was chilly once out of the trees.

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Not just a landscape photo.

TBG (the real one) spotted something. It’s in this picture, almost dead-center. It’s not a bear, but it is an animal. Give up?

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It’s me, Bucky! Happy Birthday!

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The only photo of TBG.

A bank of clouds rolled through, wiping out the mountainous backdrop, just as I was trying to get a picture of TBG during a sun break. He’s wearing new pants even though it wasn’t his birthday.

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I don’t know where I am.

What I think this photo shows is Spray Park behind me to the right as we made our way up towards Seattle Park. The trail through the parks is mostly a series of elongated erosion steps. Those vex me because they are always too long to take one step at a time, but not long enough to take two regular steps with any fluidity.

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Sunshine and no stairs!

Also no more wildflowers, which as the name suggests, Spray Park is noted for. There was a ton of dying gentian, and I cried a little inside to have missed it probably by just the week’s delay we had.

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Climbing again soon enough.

Shortly beyond this curve, the trail and landscape became all rock, and the winds became more fierce. We could see down into Cataract Valley, but this was to be our turn-around point.

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All rock, some roll.

On the way up, I had kept my eyes peeled for a spur path that was supposed to lead to a view of Mist Park, but I didn’t see it. On the way down, when we stopped at the first “comfort station” we came to, I saw that directly across the main trail was the spur path!

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High above Mist Park.

We stopped here, in the warm sun and out of the chilly wind, for a snack and the view. We completely forgot to take a timer-picture of the two of us, which is sad, because the light here and the backdrop were pretty spectacular.

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Pardon me, did someone say “snack?”

It was all downhill from there, both literally and figuratively. The literal downhill hiking wasn’t as bad as other hikes have been, and the new poles I got for my birthday really did help facilitate the journey.  The figurative downhill was the drive back out the 16-mile dirt road. Sixteen miles on a dusty washboard road — or 32 if you’re really counting — will make you stabby.

This hike officially concludes our Summer of Rainier. We may get in another hike or two on the mountain before the year’s out, but it won’t be summer any longer if we do. Then there is the matter of cross-country skiing and that of snowshoeing. Until then, stay big and beautiful, Tahoma. Thanks for a fantastic summer!

 

Cedar River Trail

Our regularly scheduled hike this weekend was postponed due to a dreadful illness in the family. By family I mean me, and by dreadful illness I mean a cold. Don’t roll your eyes at me! Just because they’re common doesn’t mean they aren’t dreadful.

The hike we’d planned was to be 16 miles, and that was a bit further out than we thought I should get in case I started feeling worse. But you can’t keep a good hiker down, and we planned for an extended walk on our local trail for the last day of this three-day weekend.

This trail is what we at home call The Trail because it begins just down the road from us, and we have put in hundreds of miles on it over the last 20 years. It connects to a couple other trails, has several access points, and while you’re not going to get any elevation or classic hiking in, you can do some serious mileage in a variety of ways  if you’re of a mind to. We were partial to the walking variety today, with eight miles mapped out.

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Pipeline Access Road

This road runs parallel to the Cedar River Trail (CRT as I will now refer to it) and it is where we do our near-daily three-mile fast walks. Lately, to help prepare for elevation hikes, we hold our breath for as long as we can a couple times during our walks. I didn’t do that today since I already can’t breathe due to my dreadful illness.

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The not-sick one.

This road/trail isn’t as pretty as the CRT, but it has a few hills and is generally less used. We used it today so that we could make a loop instead of an out-and-back.

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Pancake flats, as I call them.

This is the second-to-last section before the road ends. We went to the end, then came back via the surface streets admiring and criticizing houses along the way until we reached a little connector trail to the CRT.

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Sheriff, I’ve spotted one!

Just through those trees and we were back on The Trail.

Ah, the CRT where we have walked, run, biked, roller-bladed, and even cross-country skied. Where I trained for all my running races, and even did one. Where TBG has commuted by bicycle to work (no mean feat at nearly 40 miles round trip.)

A trail from which we access our favorite swimmin’ hole.

Sleepover 2001

A trail that we’ve shared with most of our family members and several friends. Where we walked all our dogs countless times and where we took each of them for their final walks. A trail, that although it is not far removed from suburbia in many places, we have seen bear, deer, snakes, lizards, elk, bald eagles, grouse, salmon, ducks, owls, and rabbits.

We have enjoyed this trail — The Trail — since before we even knew each other, while we were courting, and now for nearly twenty years in [dreadful] sickness and in health.

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20+ years together on the trail (of love.) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground, Mt. Rainier

Didn’t I say last time that I was going to keep my big yap shut? Given the choice this week of the two approaches to Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground, I chose the lower mileage with more gain because, after all, we are conditioning for upcoming elevation hikes. Of all the times for TBG to listen to me…

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TBGuide sharing the blame.

There are always portions of hikes we find less enjoyable than others, but almost always they are far outnumbered by the enjoyable parts. Not this time.

The trail started out pleasantly, wide and level — Lover’s Lane style they call it — for about a mile. I consoled myself many times during the rest of the hike that this easy part would also be the last mile.

After that, you cross a dry creek bed, which is also kind of cool, but then the party comes to an abrupt halt when it turns into a nasty uphill slog through the forest. Because it’s not old growth like a lot of the rest of Rainier’s trees, it’s not even pretty forest. There are many, many foot-high steps built into the trail, but as the volunteer to whom I’ll introduce to you later pointed out, they make those stairs for erosion control and not for ease of hiking. Being as those steps are one-fifth of my height, my knees can attest to that. More than once I had to resist the urge to just sit down and weep. I’m not kidding.

If this hike hadn’t had an actual destination, I am certain we would not have continued, especially with the knowledge that coming down, as incredible as it seems, was going to be worse.

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Well, now, that doesn’t look so bad.

There were a few redeeming aspects to the hike, like a series of meadow crossings which provided some hill-hell relief, and some grouse that flushed along the way.

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Finally!

After the most miserable 5.7 miles of our hiking lives to date, the cabin came into view. I tried to comfort myself with the thought that we had reached it without encountering anyone else and were set to have it to ourselves for lunch.

Nope.

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Front-porch respite, perusing the log book.

This cabin lies along the Wonderland Trail and is a resting point for through-hikers, the notes of whom I was paging through when I espied another hiker approaching. Dagnabbit!

Turns out this was a lemon from which lemonade was made.

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Volunteer!

The interloper was a park volunteer, who not only had lots of good information on being a national park volunteer, but also had keys to the cabin!

She kindly opened it up for us, a real treat since the public is almost never afforded access to these cabins unless a ranger is there, and the rangers are only there sporadically.

The volunteer also showed me where the un-signed “facilities” were located, which endeared her to me more than the tour of the cabin.

We tarried at the cabin, loathe to begin the brutal descent but the three of us departed together, us the way we’d come, she the longer, easier, smarter trail. We toyed with the idea of going that way, too, and then hitch-hiking back to our car, but the uncertainty of that plan coupled with the already over-long day put the kibosh on that idea.

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Parting shot.

Only one more good thing:

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Gentians!

As I knew it would be from last week’s outing, gentian season is in full-swing, heralding the end of wildflower season. In my opinion, Mother Nature saves the best for last.

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Wouldn’t you agree?

 

 

Palisades Lakes, Mt. Rainier

Because this was a double-hike week, this outing was only supposed to be a 7-miler. We arrived at Sunrise Point — a popular parking area and view point on the way to the Sunrise visitor area — and TBG parked and scrambled to get a few pics while the clouds and light were doing interesting things.

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Interesting things.

Then I had to go and open my big yap, wondering aloud why we weren’t starting from Sunrise proper. “Oh!” said TBG, “I hadn’t thought of that. We can drive up there and do that.” Boom! Six miles added.

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Jazz hands!

This was not a warm morning, and I was exceptionally glad to have my fleece beanie and little gloves in the car. Three shirts and a neckerchief round out the ensemble.

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You can’t hide from us, Tacobeh.

The sun was out, though, and we knew as soon as the clouds and mists blew away, we’d warm up, but, man, it was hard to take at first still being August and all. I figured we would at least be warmer than the climbers we espied who were headed up from Camp Schurman to summit.

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Lending TBGuide a hand.

Stepping off the trails is disallowed, so this was the best I could do to indicate we were headed back to Sunrise Point. On foot. Due to my big yap.

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Move it or freeze it.

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Purple pizzazz.

Despite the chill, there were some good things about the beginning of the hike. Like no bugs, almost no other people, and lighting conditions that made colors go kapow!

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What goes down…

As the name of the hike indicates, it is a lake trail, but what the name doesn’t tell you is that there are eight lakes in all along the way.

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TBGuide narrowing the choices.

This is where we would’ve started if not for my big yap.

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Sunrise Lake.

The above photo was taken on the return trip, so now I’ve ruined the surprise about the weather, but I wanted to keep things in order here.

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The second lake.

A pretty lake that is a natural choice to make a brief stop and do some clothing adjustments.

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0900 means time for caffeiney-beanies!

Down to two shirts, the neckerchief, and a different hat.

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Pika!

They look like overgrown mice, but they’re not even rodents. They are basically under-grown rabbits. Science aside, they are ridiculously cute, and if they weren’t so speedy, I wouldn’t be able to keep myself from snatching one up.

On the trail near Clover Lake, we spotted some fresh elk pee in the path and thought for sure we would see them, but despite our stealthy ways, we never did.

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Pretty stream crossing valley between Clover and Dick Lakes.

The clouds almost completely cleared out, but it never would be anything close to hot. That is mostly a good thing, especially when you have to walk uphill later in the day for the better part of six miles because someone doesn’t know when to keep her big yap shut.

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The Palisades

As we neared Dick Lake, which is the middle of Tom, Dick, and Harry Lakes only the first two of which are visible from the trail, we heard a muffled peeping coming from the grasses.

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A blue grouse squeaker!

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Then came mama hen.

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And then the second cheeper.

They weren’t in too much of a hurry, and we warmed up in the sun watching them do their forest chicken thing.

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TBGuide says, “Let’s revisit this on the way back.”

After another mile, we reached what would be the trail terminus for us.

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Upper Palisades Lake

We opted not to go down the last .4 mile hill to the camp since we were most likely going to add another 1.2 miles to see Hidden Lake on the return. This was our lunch view.

TBG suspected Hidden Lake might be pretty view-worthy, and I was silly enough to agree to it.

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Sketchy.

Climbing up to it was not at all delightful. It was downright scary in a few places due to steep, rocky, on-the-edge-of-death terrain. Although this photo is pretty, I wasn’t able to enjoy it while I was there because I found watching my feet to be of utmost importance.

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Hidden Lake

It was kind of gorgeous, I must admit. We walked around to that point on the left, briefly wishing it was a hotter day to warrant a dip.

It was then time to start the journey back in earnest. TBG said this was the biggest hike I’d have ever done in terms of distance (~14 miles, ~4000′) I told him to stop badgering me with numbers while I was trying to enjoy a hike.

We made another brief stop at Clover Lake to try some timer photos. I had to crop due to the indecent placement of a knot on a log.

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S(miles)

There were still some wildflowers blooming, but the heyday has already passed. One flower is just coming into its glory, though, and it happens to be my favorite.

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Mountain Bog Gentian

They were everywhere, getting ready to carpet the ground with their blue brilliance. They’re going to make next week’s hike sublime.

We’re planning on 11.5 miles. I’m planning on keeping my yap shut.

Burroughs Mountains, Mt. Rainier

The heatwave had died out, the smoke had cleared out, and so it was near-perfect conditions for us to be out, especially since this will be our last mid-week hike for awhile.

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TBGuide makes the selection.

Burroughs Mountain(s) is a series of three peaks, the last cresting at 8000′ and within three miles of the north face of Mt. Rainier as the crow flies. Of all the established trails in the park, this one offers the most in-your-face view of The Mountain you can get without having snow actually in your face. There are a couple different ways to access this hike, and we chose a route that would make the first/last part a loop, beginning and ending at the Sunrise visitor area, and totaling nine miles.

I’m going to relate the rest of this trek in photo captions and doodles. Isn’t that an exciting change of pace? Let’s find out.

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Alerted to the presence of a 45-member goat herd frequenting First Burroughs, we set off with great expectations.

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“Hello, I am the size of a bear cub.”

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Rounding the vista point.

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Gee, that lake looks familiar.

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Because it’s the same as the one from our Glacier Basin hike!

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Ooo, tundra!

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En route from First to Second Burroughs.

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Goats!!!

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Enjoying the view from the tortoise bench atop Second Burroughs. I am very camouflaged!

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Remember our hike at Grand Park?

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This is what it looks like from Second Burroughs.

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Dropping off the back of Second.

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Chuffing up to Third Burroughs.

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In. Your. Face.

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How it all fits together.

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TBG relishing his Triple Threat sandwich = peanut butter, cheese, and jerky.

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Me relishing the sun by hiding away from the wind amongst the rocks.

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Traversing the snow patch on the return trip.

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Trail back down to Sunrise, the crowds, and ICE CREAM.

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See you again real soon, Pooskaus!

 

 

 

 

 

Three Lakes, Mt. Rainier

If you think a little thunder and lightning can deter us from our weekly hike, you’ve got another think coming. The rain wasn’t originally predicted to arrive until the following day, but some small storms showed up near Rainier the morning of our hike to Three Lakes. We checked the NP website for alerts and the weather radar for good measure, stuffed our rain jackets in our packs, and set off as usual.

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TBGuide forecasts the distance.

As you can see from the TBG’s attire (note the fancy new socks) although it was stormy, it was not cold. Neither was it hot, but obviously it was humid. 100% humidity, to be precise, as we made our way up through the trees. During the rainiest time, we took a break under cover of the large trees, and canoodled for a bit until it passed.

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Not one of the three lakes.

If you look closely, you can see the rain dimpling the surface of the water. It remained gray and soggy for most of the trip up, and we were treated to several lightning flashes and thunder bumpers along the way. Did I just say “treated” in reference to rain about which I’m often complaining as a resident of the PNW? Yes, yes I did, and it’s because this rain was finally going to help clear out the terribly stagnant and smoky air we’ve been suffering under the past few weeks.

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Soaked!

The rain stopped for good about two-thirds of the way in, but the water on the vegetation continued to soak my pants, and I employed the roll-em-up feature. Say, is that a new backpack? Indeed it is, and now I shall digress to tell you about it.

Last weekend, we went to REI in search of a new backpack for me. I tried several, becoming frustrated at them not fitting properly, until a knowledgeable employee showed me some things I never knew about backpack straps. If you think you know everything about backpack straps just because you’ve been wearing backpacks for years, again, you’ve got another think coming. For instance, the waist strap doesn’t go around your waist at all, and they should quit calling it a waist strap immediately.

I finally found one I liked a lot, but they only had it in Iris Blue or Mystic Magenta. Those colors sound lovely, but in person they are an obnoxiously bright blue and hot pink. No thank you very much! We left the store feeling a bit defeated.

Once home, TBG got online to explore further, and found the same backpack in last year’s model (better price) in a color combo I found much more to my liking (Stormcloud Gray.) When it arrived, it seemed oddly familiar, and I finally realized it is the same brand and color as the new waist pack I got earlier in the year. They should also immediately cease calling waist packs waist packs because it leads people to believe you wear them around your waist, and you most certainly do NOT. Anyhow, I now have matching gear, which, if you’ve been paying attention to me at all, you know sends me into paroxysms of joy. So much so that I ran into the garage to retrieve my “waist” pack and set it next to the backpack just so I could gaze at them admiringly for a little while.

I love them both so much.

Now back to your regularly scheduled post.

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This trail allows horses, a NP rarity.

We didn’t encounter any other people on the way up, but we saw several little froggies, chipmunks, and one beautiful doe quietly standing in the now sun-dappled forest.

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Anyone home?

Six miles in, at two of the three lakes, sits the well-maintained patrol cabin, the two campsites, and the toilet —  a traditional-looking outhouse affair,  the door of which you must leave open if you don’t want to do your business in complete darkness.

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One.

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Two.

The third lake lies another half-mile from these two. We didn’t go see it, although, in retrospect we kinda wish we had. Instead, we dried out in the sun and enjoyed a very peaceful lunch break at the cabin. If it had been a hot day, we might’ve dipped our toes in the water.

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This merganser thinks it was plenty warm.

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Drier than they used to be.

Wondering if this might be our second-only hike to not see other people, we set off on the return journey. The arrival of the sun, however, meant the arrival of other hikers, but only 10 total which meant the way down was just about as serene as the way up.

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The most beautiful place.

The above pic cannot do this section of the trail any justice whatsoever. TBG didn’t have his good camera (out of commission temporarily for some dust removal) but even if he had, it couldn’t have captured the feeling of the terrain here. The widely spaced trees and the soft green moss covering the ground gave it such an ethereal quality. It was amazing both on the way up when the skies were gray, and later in the sunshine.

Through cobwebs and rain, sore feet and aching muscles, and all the actual strife the world over, we never forget how fortunate we are to have these experiences. Thanks once again for coming along, and I hope you find some fortune wherever you are.

 

 

 

 

 

Eastside Trail, Mt. Rainier

 Spoiler Alert! No mountain views of any sort, no sweeping wildflower meadows, and not even our usual timed photo of the two of us. What’s happening? Have we reached the end of the magnificence? The end of our lifetime supply of energy? The end of hiking as we know it?

No, nothing like that. Today’s hike simply didn’t have all the pizazz of other recent hikes. Hey, it happens. It all turns out all right, I promise.

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TBGuide says, “Distance TBA.”

It was slated to be a bit cooler today than last time, but we still wanted some shady cover because we were going for distance. At 6.7 miles in, the Eastside Trail intersects with the one we did on Thursday, and we figured we’d give that distance a shot. Tally ho!

There are only two major attractions of hiking this trail in the direction we did, and the first gives it up at a mere .3 miles in with a suspension bridge spanning the river to the Grove of the Patriarchs.

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Hello, hello. I’m at a place called Vertigo.

We obeyed the sign and took turns bouncing across the fun-house bridge. 

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But where are The Matriarchs?

We didn’t spend any time admiring the iconic Patriarchs and the boardwalk trail that leads visitors around them. Probably our mistake, but one we can remedy at a future date if we feel the need. If you hadn’t guessed, the Patriarchs are really really big, really really old trees.

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That color never gets old.

Once the feeling of having ridden an elevator one too many times subsided, we continued on our way.

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Move along, nothin’ to see here.

Okay, it’s not nothing, exactly. It’s beautiful northwest forest land, but because we are not tourists to this land, it’s the sort of scenery we are witness to on 99.9% of our hiking here. The real beauty of this trail is that it has very minimal gain, if any, so it’s quite easy to rack up the miles.

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Unexpected!

At approximately four miles in, we encountered this, what I considered the second major attraction. None of the (sparse) recent trip reports included photos of this, so we were pleasantly surprised.

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How do they build the bridges across places like this?

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And why doesn’t the railing go all the way to the end?

After this crossing, the trail resumes its forested route, which did save us on sunscreen for the day. We continued on for a couple more miles, encountering two of only four people we’d see shortly afterwards. At just over the six-mile distance, we came to another large bridge and another hiking couple who were on their last day of a four-day trek. I didn’t talk to them because I wasn’t feeling chatty, but TBG did, so that’s how I know. We paused here for our break once they’d moved out.

The way back was quick and quiet.

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Now with sun-dappling!

As expected, there were weekend crowds beginning to form at the suspension bridge, deterring us from dipping our toes. The trail was getting congested by an endlessly fascinating parade of park visitors.  It’s always interesting (and sometimes ‘interesting’ is a kind descriptor) to see their varied attire and hear their snippets of conversation as we pass. We must look like we know what we’re doing because we get stopped a lot by others seeking information on distances, etc. We consider it good training for our future as campground hosts.

See you next week!

 

Owyhigh Lakes, Mt. Rainier

When the weather was forecast earlier this week, and today was predicted to be the hottest of the year so far, folks looked at me like I was whacko when I said that was our next hiking day. I may be whacko for a lot of reasons, but hiking in the heat isn’t one of them, at least not with our Tricky Tricks to beat the heat.

Tricky Trick #1 is to start very early, which is what we do no matter the temperature.              It’s how you get a parking spot, have the bulk of your hiking done before the really brutal temps kick in, avoid most other people, and get back home with enough time to soak your feet in the backyard while letting your chickens out on a field trip. Maybe that last one only applies to us, I’m not sure.

Tricky Trick #2 is to choose the right trail. The right trail for us had to include  accessible water somewhere near the trailhead, not have a punishing gain, and provide good cover. Owyhigh Lakes fit that bill for all three.

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TBGuide makes the right selection.

Tricky Trick #3 is to put your backpack water bladders in the fridge the night before and to put lots of ice cubes in them the morning of. TBG thought of the fridge, I encouraged the ice cubes.

This trail can be accessed a couple different ways, but we chose the path that sent us over a few different water crossings even though it was three miles longer than the other way. One of these crossings was going to be a dunking place on the return trip.

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This one looks promising.

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Looks scary from this angle, but had some nice possibilities.

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Abort! Abort! Not a good choice!

That second crossing had my attention, and I thought the whole rest of the way about exactly where I was going to get my feet in that water when we came back through.

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My favorite place.

This bend in the trail had a cool breeze coming up off the waterfall far below. In this photo, you can’t see mountain range upstream, but I decided that this would be the perfect backdrop for our timer photo on the way back.

You might notice that the sky looks a little hazy, and that’s due to all the smoke wafting down from the fires in British Columbia. I think there were air-quality warnings for today. Oopsie.

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Where’s THE mountain?

Believe it or not, and you should believe it because it’s true but you don’t have to because you’re free to believe whatever you like, but not all the trails in this park offer views of the namesake mountain.

This trail, after roughly three miles, opened up into the first of several meadow crossings.

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Columbine meadow.

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Lupine meadow.

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Magenta paintbrush meadow.

We kept our eyes peeled for critters, and I sang lots of bear-deterring songs through the brushy sections between the meadows, but we never saw anything more than chipmunks and frogs.

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It’s poop! 

Not long before we reached the lakes, we found this very fresh elk poop in the trail, but elk have Tricky Tricks of their own, and they kept well out of our sight.

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Owyhigh Lakes

I hope you weren’t expecting too much when you saw the word “lakes.” We knew from the trail reports that these lakes aren’t like other alpine lakes and wouldn’t be any sort of cool comfort on this hot day. The above shot is taken from our snack spot.

During our break, a group of four through-hikers passed us, and we exchanged the obligatory trail greetings. They were the only other people we had seen or heard all day. We were happy they were headed the way from which we’d come because we suffered through a zillion of those floaty cobwebs on the way up through the trees, and we were delighted that they’d clear the way for us on the return trip.

So many things to look forward to on the way back! Fewer cobwebs, a beautiful photo backdrop, and a perfect dunking place!

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Back from whence we came.

The return journey was mostly a gradual downhill, and we were moving along at a pretty good clip. We reached my favorite place in no time at all, it seemed. The light was decent for our photo op, but there was no good place to secure the little gorilla clip that would allow the camera to capture us and the great view. I had no idea if we’d even gotten a usable photo until we were home.

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No mountain backdrop, but it’ll do.

Even in the trees, it was getting quite warm, and I was excited to reach the water crossing to dip our toes and dunk our heads.

But…

Those other people — the only other people — were there in our dunking place! Why hadn’t they gotten further? the voice inside my head lamented, they should be long-gone by now! And what about the cobwebs?!

We smiled and again exchanged greetings as we marched past. Once out of earshot, and again picking cobwebs off my face and arms, I wailed to TBG, “Sometimes I just feel so selfish, and I’m tired of sharing the world all the time!” He said he thought I was wrong about that being the best dunking place, and that it was yet to come.

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He was half right.

I had meant to stop at the first one, but this one turned out to be even better.

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Just as we were putting our boots back on, The Others trekked through, one of the women remarking that this looked like an even better spot than where they had stopped. That’s right, sister, I thought. Then one of the men chatted with us as if he had never seen us before, which was quite odd. I was just glad they were going to be ahead of us again to clear the rest of the cobwebs away.

The last half mile is a straight climb back out, and it was almost enough, especially with the heat, to erase all the goodness of the dunking place.

Almost.

 

 

 

 

 

Glacier Basin, Mt. Rainier

Today’s hike was a shorty, relatively speaking, at just a mere seven miles on the Glacier Basin Trail

Speaking of relatives, we were joined by our nephew, Addison.

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TBGuide points out The Guest Guide who points out the trail sign.

We chose this trail to give our legs somewhat of a break after last weekend’s tough tromp which caused various and sundry -itises. No need to burn out with so much more left to the season!

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Bridging the moraine’s rushing river.

If you noticed in the first pic — I’ll wait, scroll up and look — after a mile, a half-mile spur trail heads off to a viewpoint of the Emmons Glacier. It’s the biggest glacier in the lower 48. People climb on it to get to the summit of Rainier. Not us, though. We just wanted to gawk at it.

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Brilliant turquoise glacial lake. 

There was something large-ish swimming across that lake but we were numb skulls and forgot we had the binoculars with us, so we don’t know what it was. I did use the binoculars to try to espy some mountain goats that the website says are commonly seen on the rocky slopes. I saw none on any slopes, thus I choose to believe it was a mountain goat paddling its way across that lake.

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Glacier Basin

Just past the campsites is the end of the line for most day-hikers. Yes, the sky is really that blue.

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Tante pointing out climbers.

While Addison and I enjoyed some vitamin D, TBOnkel went to investigate a pond he saw where he thought he might get some nice reflection shots.

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And he did!

On the return trip, I followed the “toilet” sign because after Shriner Peak’s glorious throne view, and Summerland’s two-story toilet condo, I had to. Also, I had to.

The guys waited for me at the sign, and I thought I’d never get to the darn thing, the trail was so long. I think I added another quarter mile total to my hike. As I approached across a sunny meadow, a man’s voice rang out, “I’m over here!” I about-faced as I called back “OK!” While I waited in the meadow, I thought I should’ve brought my camera because the views along Toilet Trail were pretty darn good (of the hills and wildflowers, what do you think I am?) The facilities themselves, while pretty well-kept, were nothing compared to Shriner’s.

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The three of us and Emmons Glacier.

The brightest, whitest, and tallest thing in this picture is Emmons Glacier. Usually it’s TBG.

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The family that hikes together gets sore knees together.  Also genetics.

We didn’t take as many pictures as usual, mostly due to the fact we were busy visiting and catching up since this is (probably) the last time this summer we will see Addison before he returns to school.

It was a good hike made great by being with family. Thanks for making the time, Adi!