WA – Mount Rainier National Park, Paradise (July 2021)

After a couple days at Stevens Canyon (link) it was impossible to ignore the pull of the mountain. So on a Sunday, yes a Sunday, during peak summer tourist season, two crowd-adverse gals decided to test the waters. Joan and I left our campsite at 5:30am for optimal crowd-avoidance strategy. It worked! We got our pick of a parking spot in the main area at Paradise.

After a stop at Reflection Lake, we decided “sub alpine” filled with hordes of skeeters was less appealing than hordes of people at alpine. I was reminded of my hike around Mt Rainier on the Wonderland Trail in 2014 (link).

Reflection Lake

Skyline Trail

We couldn’t ignore a calling to the Skyline Trail. With much trepidation about my knee and body performance, we began our hike. The views kept me smiling. It was my kind of WOW per mile. So many views and wildflowers. I felt like I could touch the mountain. How lucky to have beautiful blue skies devoid of smoke and fires. Temperatures were warm but with plenty of water and snow we stayed comfortable. At the end of the day, I was thrilled with my recovery and performance. The long steep downhill tested my body but my hips complained more than my knee so I figured this meant I’d moved on from knee rehab to rebuilding general fitness.

The first section of the Skyline Trail is paved which really helps with dust and erosion given it’s high use. Notice the marmot laying on the big rock in foreground.

The marmots are such portrait hams.

This was a flower power tour.

The lupine smelled strongly of grape jelly.

We had a few snow patches to hike through and were wishing we’d carried our microspikes.

This is the Nisqually Glacier. Notice the waterfall.  There are 25 major glaciers on Mount Rainier and numerous unnamed snow or ice patches, which cover about 35 square miles.

Nothing like Glacier Lilies to accompany the Nisqually Glacier.

Trail reality . . . we definitely weren’t alone. Funny this viewpoint is of the Goat Rock wilderness where Joan had hiked the PCT the previous week (link), and where I’ve hiked two times previously.

I was thrilled to find Sky Pilots (Jacob’s Ladder).

Water water everywhere, fields of green and loads of floral color.

This was my third day in a row to hike. I was beyond excited about my performance and recovery.

DATE(S) HIKED: July 25, 2021

RESOURCES:

Other Jaunts in Washington (link) including the Wonderland Trail (link)

WA – Mount Rainier National Park, Stevens Canyon (July 2021)

When you find yourself less than 30 miles from a National Park, how can you resist a visit especially after staring at this beautiful mountain for the past week or two?

Team J&J were still together after completing Section H of the PCT (link). With a perfect weather window, and attitudes set to deal with expected peak season summer crowds, we arrived at the park early and completed a couple of the popular hikes from Stevens Canyon entrance.

Grove of the Patriarchs and Silver Falls Loop

We loved this swinging bridge that crossed the Ohanapecosh River. We skipped, danced and laughed our way across it.

These mega trees earned their right to be in the Grove of the Patriarchs.

Silver Falls

We enjoyed our time so much on Friday, we decided to roll the dice on Saturday and try for nearby Eastside Trail which parallels Chinook Creek. A ranger recommended that we hike south from the Deer Creek junction.

Safford Falls was our favorite.

Joan was entertained by the Pacific Banana slugs.

While I was thrilled to find Pacific Coralroot.

How’s this for lunch with a view?

And then we found our favorite swimming hole.

What a great way to spend some time in a National Park. We only saw a handful of people and loved experiencing the park from a different perspective, as in no views of the mountain.

On a hot summer day who can complain about plentiful water?

DATE(S) HIKED: July 23-24, 2021

RESOURCES:

Other Jaunts in Washington (link) including the Wonderland Trail (link)

WA – PCT Section H . . . as in Hike your own Hike, J&J Style (Stevenson to White Pass) (Days 9-12)

In case you missed the previous posts, I’m supporting Joan as she complete this section of the PCT (link to previous post). I’m chronicling what I found to do while Joan was hiking.

Days 9-12 – Williams Mine Trailhead on FR-23 (Mile 2229.9) to White Pass on Highway 12 (2295.9)

Mt Adams Wilderness – We both hiked north on the PCT. My destination was Horseshoe Meadow, Joan’s was White Pass 66 miles away. My reward was a meadow filled with pink paintbrush.

My timing was perfect to find many blooms, and I was ecstatic with my longest hike to date since my knee surgery including 2,000′ elevation gain.

The next day was filled with waterfalls and lakes as I traveled north on FR-23. First up was Big Spring Creek Falls.

Council Lake“Council Lake is a drive up mountain lake on the north west flank of Mt. Adams.  It has a U.S. Forest Service campground.  It is stocked annually with catchable rainbow trout, but also contains eastern brook, brown trout, and cutthroat trout.”

Takhlakh Lake “A very popular campground close to the shore of Takhlakh Lake. The Campground includes ten walk-in sites. The views across the lake of Mt. Adams are outstanding. The northern trails of the Mt. Adams Wilderness are nearby. Takhlakh Loop Trail # 134 originates in the campground and encircles the lake. It’s a 1.1 mile flat hike around the lake. You can also connect to the Takh Takh Meadows trail #136 that leads you to an old lava flow.” Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Pika

Olallie Lake“This campground, on the shores of Ollalie Lake, offers 5 small sites and one larger area with room for RVs. The sites offer scenic views of Mt. Adams from the lake. It’s located in a high elevation stand of lodgepole and subalpine pine.” The trail around the lake wasn’t in as good of shape as that around Takhlakh Lake, the lake was shallower, more buggy and views of Mt Adams not as wow.

Chain of Lakes – This was the least desirable of the lakes I visited. There is free dispersed camping with picnic tables and fire rings but no restrooms. It was very buggy but maybe a fishermen’s paradise although no one was around the morning of my visit. You can access High Lakes Trail from there.

Horseshoe Lake – This was by far my favorite lake as it offered great swimming. It’s a first come first serve no reservation campground and was packed with a large father/kid group. Bugs weren’t too bad and there were views of Mt Adams. “The campground is a rustic site situated on a 24 acre lake, and offers most campers a view of the water. The campground is small with only 11 campsites. Fishing, boating (electric motors only), and hiking are available.”

At White Pass, I hiked north on the PCT to Deer Lake. This was a very somber day as I thought about Kris “Sherpa” Fowler (link) who went missing in 2016. I’ve been very involved behind-the-scenes with the search.

Old signs bring smiles, with another to add to my collection.

Good morning from a new-to-me wilderness.

I was excited to find blooming elephant head orchids.

Deer Lake

Leech Lake – at the PCT Trailhead in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Joan’s last stretch was in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. This is a favorite area of mine and I’ve hiked the Knife’s Edge portion three times.

Once off trail we had a J&J day where we explored Skate Creek, a Washington State Park.

Joan’s last section of the PCT to complete is from Rainy Pass north. We attempted this in 2016 (link) but I got shin tendonitis and we had to reverse direction. This time there were fires, and although the trail was open, access was a problem. The good news is that now we had time for more J&J adventures.

Dates: July 18-22, 2021

WA – PCT Section H . . . as in Hike your own Hike, J&J Style (Stevenson to White Pass) (Days 7-8)

I picked up Joan at Williams Mine Trailhead (link to previous post) and after showers, eats, drinks and WiFi in Trout Lake we headed out for some J&J time.

Basket Tree or Peeled Cedar Interpretive Site, Trail #15“This is a culturally historic site in Gifford Pinchot National Forest located in a peaceful stand of old growth forest. The site includes cedar trees that Native Americans peeled to access the under bark.” We found out there are four other somewhat nearby sites of Culturally Modified Trees with the largest consisting of 267 trees with peel dates of 1804-1944 AD. We picked up a brochure at the Ranger Station in Trout Lake which details the locations.

Langfield Falls – Gifford Pinchot Forest Trail #8 is a special interest trail, built as a memorial to an old-time District Ranger, K.C. Langfield.

Day 8 – Sleeping Beauty Trail #37, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

“This 1.4 mile very steep trail starts climbing right away through a dense second-growth forest. The second-growth setting changes to old-growth Douglas fir and mountain hemlock. After 1 mile of continuous grade, the trail levels out near the ridge top. The trail then zigzags over bare rock to the old fire lookout site, affording excellent views of Trout Lake valley and the surrounding peaks. The trail ends at the base of the rock outcrop known as Sleeping Beauty. The formation was named because the profile somewhat resembles that of a sleeping woman. The formation is actually andesitic magma that intruded up into older volcanic rocks more than 25 million years ago. The andesite was exposed as the rocks eroded away. The trail zigzags over bare rock to the old fire lookout site. Rock work in the walls along this section was done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The crest is around 750 feet long, but is only 15 to 30 feet in places, with sheer drop-offs on all sides. You can still see the eye bolts that once served as anchor points for the lookout.”

I don’t know why I didn’t take photos with my camera because my phone photos just don’t show the detail. Anyway the trail work was incredible. That’s Mt Adams in the background.

You can see the lookout wires at the top of the boulder. Joan said no thanks.

Joan enjoyed this view of Mount Hood while I scrambled up to the old lookout.

My view of Mount Hood from Sleeping Beauty lookout tower. Link to more information on history of the lookout: http://willhiteweb.com/washington_fire_lookouts/sleeping_beauty_lookout/gifford_pinchot_260.htm

Mount Saint Helens.

Mount Rainier

Team J&J Summit Success. “We conquered that peak. It was #epic.”

Hardest hike since my knee surgery.

Back in Trout Lake it was time to reward ourselves with huckleberry pancakes. I can’t say enough positives about this town. It was very hiker and traveler friendly. It gets an A+ from me.

This is Sleeping Beauty from the town of Trout Lake. Doesn’t look like a sleeping lady to me, at least not from here. There is however quite the legend about the mountain. We got a handout at the ranger station which starts out “Squaw Mountain came into the mountains and fell in love with Wy’East (Mt Hood). To get WyEast’s attention she flirted with his brother Pah-toe (Mt Adams) to the north.”

Back at camp, it was time for Joan to pack up for her next section which included Mt Adams and Goat Rocks Wilderness areas. We’d be camping independently for the next three nights.

My “healthy” dinner after a town stop.

Dates: July 16-17, 2021

WA – PCT Section H . . . as in Hike your own Hike, J&J Style (Stevenson to White Pass) (Days 5-7)

As a recap, I’m Joan’s sidekick as she works toward completion of this section. We are camping together when convenient and I’m enjoying a bit more variety than PCT standard fare. The previous post covered Bridge of Gods to Panther Creek (link).

Day 5 – Crest Camp on FR-60 (2198.9) to Panther Creek Camp on FR-65 (Mile 2183.0)

Both Joan and I hiked south through Big Lava Bed Unusual Interest Area although I turned around at the end and she continued north. According to Wikipedia, “The Big Lava Bed, located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the southwestern area of the State of Washington, originated from a 500-foot-deep crater in the northern center of the bed. The Big Lava Bed is the youngest feature of the Indian Heaven volcanic field. The 0.9-cubic kilometer lava flow erupted from the cinder cone about 8200 years ago. The lava flow traveled 13 km from the source crater. Lodgepole pine, alder, and other pioneer plants struggle to grow, seen sparsely growing between and amid towering rock piles, caves, and strange lava formations. Access into the interior of the lava bed is difficult, since there are no roads or trails crossing the lava field.”

Although I saw a few lava caves and features, it was the penstemon that grabbed my attention.

After my hike I took a detour to swim at Goose Lake.

Next was a short hike to see Panther Creek Falls. There were a lot of warning signs and relatively new fencing. I later learned a person died somewhat recently.

The best part of the day is when Team J&J are back together again.

Days 6 and 7 – Crest Camp on FR-60 (Mile 2198.9) to Williams Mine Trailhead on FR-23 (Mile 2229.9)

As Joan heads north into Indian Heaven Wilderness, this would be our first night to spend independently. We both hiked north on the PCT, but I made a loop to visit Red Mountain Lookout.

From the lookout I had incredible views of the cascade peaks including Adams, Hood, Saint Helens and Rainier.

Mount Adams
Mount Hood
Mount Saint Helens
Mount Rainier

I was really excited to hike nearly 9 miles with 1,400′ elevation gain. My knee felt great and I only had a little complaining by the rest of my body. Bouncing back after about 9-months of little activity isn’t so easy.

I also found some happy blooms to keep me company.

Columbine
Mariposa Lily
Leopard Lily

One of the cool old signs.

I was thrilled to feel chilled. How wonderful to wrap in down in July. Funny it was only 67 but when you are use to 110 and 75-80 degree lows, it takes the body a bit to acclimate.

Dates: July 15-16, 2021

WA – PCT Section H . . . as in Hike your own Hike, J&J Style (Stevenson to White Pass) (Days 1-4)

Jan and Joan were back together again for another section of the PCT. However, things were a bit different as I was still recovering from my knee surgery. So this post will mostly be about what I did while Joan was hiking the PCT. Someone needs to write a book about the best road access points and side-trip options for those providing support. I met Tim Olsen’s support crew as he was working on his FKT. They spent plenty of time researching then driving many roads so they’d be excellent candidates to share these details.

Day 1 – Panther Creek Camp on FR-65 (Mile 2183.0) to Trout Creek at FR-43 (Mile 2177.6)

While Joan hiked south, I sat in Trout Creek recovering from my long drive. I met a couple of hikers, one out for a day hike and another who’d recently began their northbound attempt from Cascade Locks.

We camped together along Panther Creek where I got to try out my new lighter weight tent. It’s a Zpacks Plexamid.

Day 2 – Trout Creek at Forest Road 43 (Mile 2177.6) to Forest Road 2000 (Mile 2166.6)

Joan headed south on the PCT, while Jan . . .

Whistle Punk Trail #59 – This 1.4 mile trail in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is an accessible interpretive trail that tells the story of forest management from a historical perspective. I enjoyed the beautiful forest path with signage explaining how the local dams and waterways were used in the logging process, and yes I found out the definition of a Whistle Punk.

Hemlock Picnic Area Interpretive Site – What once was a lake controlled by a dam for logging purposes is now a living example of a steelhead recovery site on the historic Wind River Nursery and Hemlock CCC Camp.

Wind River Arboretum – There is a trail that wanders among the mostly dead trees with interesting signage such as when the seed was planted and from where it was sourced.

Port of Skamania, Stevenson Landing, Interpretive Trail – I spent many hours wandering the paved path along the shoreline, watching the wind-driven water sports, as well visiting the local shops and eateries.

Day 3 – Forest Road 2000 (Mile 2166.6) to Bridge of Gods (Mile 2148.1)

Joan continued south on the PCT and it was my day for swimming, waterfalls, interpretive walks and our one and only night in a hotel.

Heaven & Hell Falls – With my 7am arrival I had the place to myself and couldn’t resist a swim in this beautiful pool. “Heaven and Hell Falls is the uppermost waterfall along Rock Creek which can be accessed with notable ease. The falls occur where the creek squeezes through a small cleft then bounces 26 feet over a rounded ledge and runs into what appears to be an ever-sliding canyon wall. Depending on the volume of water in Rock Creek, the falls may stretch to 50 feet or more wide, but due to the shape of the gorge below the falls, viewing the falls at higher flows may not be possible. The falls were named by kayakers who first ran Rock Creek as a descriptive of the fun factor of the drop. The small flume drop at the top of the falls certainly would be the “hell” part of the pairing.”

Steep Creek Falls – this one was a roadside stop. “The drainage of Rock Creek near Stevenson contains many waterfalls, distributed about evenly between Rock Creek itself and its tributaries. Steep Creek creates the most pronounced and easily accessible waterfall in the watershed as it veils 52 feet directly into Rock Creek, smashing on a ledge and creating a striking concave arch of water halfway down the falls. The road passes the falls such that side views as well as head on views are both possible. When Rock Creek runs lower in the summer, it may even be possible to walk behind the plume of water at Steep Creek.”

Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Rock Cove Interpretative Walk, Ashes Lake and Stevenson Waterfront – I didn’t have any trouble getting in my miles this day.

Crossing Bridge of Gods, even with a promised soft serve ice cream was a big fat NO.

Day 4 – It was a J&J day!

Dog Creek Falls – this is a 25-ft cascading waterfall is a very short walk in the Columbia River Gorge Recreation Area.

Guler Ice Cave and Natural Bridges Trail – Caving might not have been on my list of approved knee rehab activities. “The Guler Ice Cave is a 650 foot long cave that has a beautiful display of ice stalactites and ice stalagmites.”

I was super excited to finally see a sugarstick (Allotropa virgata), I was only wishing I had my camera instead of phone.

What a great reunion and first four days in Washington! Stay tuned for the next segment.

Dates: July 10-13, 2021

CA – Lassen Volcanic National Park, Nobles Trail, Hat Creek Section (July 2021)

The Nobles Trail is an old wagon route with a few remaining sections in the park. “it was used by emigrant parties from the east as a shortened route to northern California. It was pioneered in 1851 by William Nobles, who discovered an easy shortcut between the Applegate Trail in Nevada and the Lassen Trail in California. The trail was extensively used until the 1870s, when it was superseded by railroads. The 24-mile section of trail within the boundaries of Lassen Volcanic National Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 3, 1975. The section within the park is maintained as a hiking trail.” Source: Wikipedia

We chose the trail for creek access knowing it would be another hot day, but I was reminded that maps lie and creeks aren’t always as accessible as depicted. So instead it became a day to find beauty and change as the land regenerates from the 2012 Reading Fire.

We were happy to see many new trees.

The wildflowers were flourishing with all the extra light.

Especially the Lassen Paintbrush.

This section of the Nobles Trail is still in use by Park vehicles providing access to the Hat Creek Patrol Station.

The trail becomes less defined after the cabin but is still relatively easy to follow. Just look for the log cuts and piled clearings.

The first creek crossing is via a bridge where you have to work a bit to gain access to the water. This is the second access point. Plan on getting your feet wet. Notice all the new growth aspen trees. We found quite a few patches and one giant mother that survived the fire and was now surrounded by her children.

This trail also provides access to the Pacific Crest Trail.

We found large meadows of blooming balsamroot near this junction.

This was the third creek access point, just a short distance off the trail, and our turnaround for the day.

I found a perfect hole to cool off in preparation for the return trip.

The highlight of my trip was finding a few large patches of Ranunculus aquatilis L., white water buttercups. I’d seen photos of these in Warner Valley and I really wanted to see myself. They grow in floating mats of algae or something similar.

The wildlife was back! We saw tons of deer prints, this bear print, and enjoyed watching the squirrels and birds.

The Reading Fire was massive and changed this landscape. It won’t recover in my lifetime so I’m trying to learn to appreciate what remains. While many trails in the Park are heavily used, there are still some like this one with low to non-existent traffic. On this day, it was all ours.

More jaunts in Lassen (link)

CA – Lassen Volcanic National Park, Sifford Lakes (June 2021)

It had been 100+ degrees in the valley. We needed to escape so even though we knew it’d be warmer than preferred for hiking, we’d be near water and shade, and it’d be at least 20 degrees cooler. It was slightly below 60F when we arrived at trailhead around 8am, and 85F when we finished about 3pm.

I first hiked to Sifford Lake a few years ago when I was on my comeback after my wrist surgery (link), so it seems apropos to do the same following my knee surgery. This is the first lake and by far the most visited of the multiple lakes in the Sifford Lakes basin, thus we’ve renamed it Lake Popular.

There are several opportunities to obtain views of the distant mountains and down into Warner Valley.

This was my first time to explore the network of lakes. The trail was in good condition and easy to follow to the first lake in the cluster. We called this one Island Lake (notice the tree coming out of the rock in the middle of the lake).

Finding the rest of the lakes required a bit of wandering and fun navigation.

We called this one Rock Lake.

Some of the lakes are quite close together. In this photo, Rock Lake is on the left with Lassen Peak in the background; Island Lake is on the right.

Most of the lakes weren’t very inviting for a swim like this one we called Grassy Lake. Most likely this will soon become a dry pond.

We were surprised to find one lake already dry, so yes this one became known as Dry Lake.

The largest of the lakes, Big Sifford Lake, offers views of Lassen and Reading Peaks. We enjoyed lunch at this spot and were hopeful a bear would saunter out of the woods and take a swim.

Panarama Lake

Unknowingly we saved the best for last, Swimmer’s Lake.

Looking down at Lake Popular, from where we started our jaunt to find all of the other Sifford Lakes.

We also did some wandering around to find viewpoints.

The most common bloom of the day was these Mariposa Lilies.

Penstemon provided bright pops of pink along the trail and seemed to enjoy hiding in rocky alcoves.

This hike begins with a descent along Kings Creek to the first Sifford Lake aka Lake Popular, then it’s a climb to the lakes basin. We saw a young family in the early morning hiking the waterfalls loop then didn’t see anyone until we reached Lake Popular on the return trip when we met another young couple. There were many hikers in the afternoon on the waterfalls trail. Our route was less than 7 miles with about 800 feet elevation gain/loss. How were the skeeters? Lucky us non-existent until we stopped by Kings Creek to soak our feet. That water was freezing COLD and the mossies seemed to love the environment. Needless to say we didn’t stay long. That was our cue, exit left!

Other nearby jaunts:

CA – Klamath National Forest, Kangaroo Lake Botanical Area (June 2021)

The Klamath National Forest is home to many rare and endemic species. As such they have several botanical areas which have been protected (link) including the Kangaroo Lake Botanical Area. “A 430 acre site located on the southeast edge of the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District  (T40N, R7W, SEC 14).  The area varies in elevation from 6000′ to 6857′.  It provides a diversity of plant habitats ranging from wet seeps and meadows to rock walls. The high level of habitat diversity is associated with a correspondingly high botanical species diversity. Sensitive plant species present include Phacelia dalesiana and Epilobium siskiyouense.” Source: Klamath NF

I have fond memories of Kangaroo Lake from my childhood when we camped nearby, and my dad spent hours fly fishing.

On this day though we were out to explore the Fen Nature Trail, a word that only came to my attention over the past few years.

We found plenty of fens with Darlingtonia californica aka Cobra Lilies or California Pitcher Plants.

We were hoping to find the rare Scott Mountain Phacelia, which I’d been lucky enough to stumble across unexpectedly a few weeks earlier at a different location (link).

Are you hiding down here?

How about here?

Success!

Calochortus elegans aka Elegant star tulip and Northwestern mariposa lily

Calochortus nudus aka Naked Mariposa Lily

Owl’s Clover with bug for extra credit.

Allium (onion) but not the rare one.

Sedum (aka Dr. Seuss trees)

Buckwheat, but not the rare species.

Blue Flax

Penstemon newberryi

Bladderpods

Intense butterfly or moth mating.

We enjoyed several views of Kangaroo Lake and distant views of three other listed botanical areas including China Peak, South China Peak and Cory Peak. Someday I’ll make it a priority to spend a day botanizing in those areas as well.

We hiked the trail to where it connected with the PCT. Our trip was less than 3.5 miles and about 750′ of elevation gain/loss.

Bonus: roadside botany on our drive to the trailhead

When I spied a group of rare California Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium californicum), I was giddy. They were freshly washed after a little overnight rain.

Apocynum andrsameifolium aka Dogbane

Shasta Leopard Lily

Sidalcea, Checkerbloom.

Rhododendron occidentale aka Wester azalea

Showy Milkweed (creative edit)

My botany fieldtrips have been such a fun rehab diversion. It’s highly unlikely in “normal” times I would have taken a day to drive 3-4 hours to spend 5 hours hiking 3.5 miles, followed by another 3 hours of driving. It was a wonderfully long 12-hour day filled with friendship, education, photography and visual delights.

CA – Lassen Volcanic National Park, Paradise Meadows (June 2021)

What happens when you don’t use your resources like maps and books to plan a trip? Well you might end up making it harder than necessary. This wasn’t my first time to visit Paradise Meadows which is connected by two trailheads. The Hat Lake trailhead starts at 6,400′ while the Terrace Lake trailhead starts at 8,000′. Paradise Meadows sits about 7,000′. For me I’d rather hike the uphill on the way than in reverse. So you can guess the “mistake” I made on this day.

If I wasn’t still recovering from knee surgery and feeling tubby and out of shape, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal.

According to my guidebook, “Paradise Meadow(s) is one of the supreme wildflower gardens in the park. . . . ablaze with color from a host of wildflowers, which typically reach the height of bloom from late July to early August.” Once again a little advance reading might have been helpful because this is the meadow I found in mid June.

I found a few blooms like these bright paintbrush.

The bees were quite happy.

Bog orchid and paintbrush.

I found purple and white varieties of monk’s hood.

Monkeyflower

I’m going to call this the highlight of my day as I don’t think I’ve seen previously. According to my Seek app, this is California Jacob’s Ladder aka Sky Pilot, Polemonium californicum.

Notice the bee flying away in previous shot.

Look at those details.

Just above Paradise Meadow is this view of Badger Mountain, West Prospect Peak and Prospect Peak.

You also get some different views of Lassen Peak along the upper trail.

Reading Peak is also visible.

Lupine was the predominant bloom along the trail.

I believe this is Cobwebby paintbrush.

I was grateful for these snow patches as I got quite warm ascending those 1,000 feet in less than 2 miles.

A friend shared photos she took on her recent jaunt so I was expecting to find the same. I was a little disappointed in my finds, but looking back at photos I feel more accomplished.

Nevertheless I decided to stop at King’s Creek Picnic area to explore the wet areas near the creek. I was pleased to find a nice collection of fawn lilies, even if they were at end of life.

There were mass displays of mountain heather.

First of the season Lassen Paintbrush, Castilleja lassenensis. This was the only group I saw blooming.

Just remember pick your poison. If you prefer hiking uphill first then use the Hat Lake trailhead; if down first is your preference then start at the Terrace Lake trailhead. The bonus is a stop at the end for a swim in Terrace or Shadow Lakes. As for Hat Lake, it’s just a mirage of days gone by and you’ll be disappointed if you count on that option for an end-of-hike swim. Of course for those a bit more ambitious I recommend starting at the Hat Lake trailhead, visiting Paradise Meadows and then at least Terrace and Shadow Lakes before reversing direction or coordinating with a second vehicle.

Other nearby jaunts: