WA – Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Ingalls Pass (Sept/Oct 2021)

The forecasters got this one wrong. I like to camp near trailheads so I can get an early morning start. Well on this day instead of hiking I read. Living in your car has some drawbacks and on long rainy days there aren’t a lot of options. Yes I could have been like those I saw hiking anyways, some carrying backpacks. That’s the difference between those from the Pacific Northwest and this sunny Californian. I also could have driven back to town but I don’t like wasting gas and since hanging out inside was something I avoided during COVID times, that wasn’t a great option either.

As I drove to the trailhead the next morning, I was mostly excited to see this view of I believe Fortune Peak, although a little concerned about snow since I didn’t have my microspikes or weatherproof shoes with me. Afterall I packed for this trip when it was over 100 degrees. I met a few of the backpackers coming down after a wet cold night. They were regretting not waiting a day for better weather and views.

It was a great hike to the pass. I had views of Mount Rainier and cloudy views of either Mount Adams or Mount Saint Helens. The Esmeralda Peaks are in the foreground.

Finding larch turning yellow at the pass and seeing Mount Stuart with it’s first dusting made Ingalls Pass a worthy hike.

This is looking down into Ingalls Creek drainage which I’d hiked from the other end a couple weeks previous, though not quite making it this far (blog link).

At the top I found a marmot enjoying the warm sun.

The colors remind me of California’s Klamath Mountains. Ingalls Pass is to the right in front of the colorful mountains which I believe includes Fortune Peak on the left.

In one of the rock fields, I took time to watch the pika scurry about. This one blended well with the rocks.

With the yellowing larch signaling a change in season I headed further north hoping to find them in peak color. I returned to Ingalls Pass a couple of weeks later to see how autumn was progressing. I’d say I found gold!

I was still full of energy and feeling strong when I arrived at the pass so decided to continue on toward Ingalls Lake. Headlight Basin is beautiful. You can see why it’s a popular backpacking and hiking destination. This is looking back up at Ingalls Pass.

This is the route to Ingalls Lake. There isn’t a trail; it’s more of a multiple-option cairn route, sort of what I call pick your poison. I started up two different routes and realized they were too risky for where I was in my knee rehab. If you zoom you can see people scrambling among the rocks. If I were to see this photo, I’d think it would be easy to stick to the boulders making it a somewhat easy climb but in reality there is lots of class 2 scrambling.

Instead I enjoyed lunch with views like these into the Ingalls Creek Drainage. As a bonus I had time to people watch. Some were suffering greatly carrying overnight packs, even though the lake is off limits for camping. I met a ranger on my way down who was on her way up to check permits and relocate those camped in closed areas.

I made the mistake of taking the alternate trail on my way down. The main trail is a much nicer grade and provides even better views. The shorter alternate trail drops down steeply and then regains some elevation to meet up with the main trail. In retrospect I wish I would have done an out and back on the main trail.

Dr Seuss trees.

Very few trees were as mature as this one. I wonder if a fire wiped out old growth at some time in the fairly recent past.

I was still a tad early for peak color but it was still a WOW experience and not one I regretted.

ADVENTURE DATE(S): September 19-20 and October 1, 2021

RESOURCES:

LINKS:

WA – Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Rachel Lake (Sept 2021)

A friend recently shared photos of her hike on this trail so I added it to my list as I headed north in my ongoing attempt to escape wildfire. By the time I arrived smoke had shifted so I continued north and spent a couple weeks in the Leavenworth/Lake Wenatchee area (blog link). Soon enough the winds shifted again and it was time to head south where AQI was looking much better. I first spent some time at Cle Elum Lake where I walked from the waterline to the mapped shoreline, an amazing 2.5 miles.

I enjoyed following the river channel while being entertained by the clouds. The shoreline mountains were colorful and had me looking at my maps to discover more nearby trails.

As I reached the far end of the lake’s boundary I wondered how long ago it was last full. The nearby campground would provide a convenient opportunity to watch wildlife at dawn and dusk.

The green line represents the 2.5 miles I walked on what was once the lake.

It was a brisk 34F when I arrived at the trailhead to begin my hike to Rachel Lake. It’s a 4-mile hike to the lake. On the ridge is Rampart Lakes which was my intended destination or beyond to Lila Lake.

I was a little early for best fall colors but there were teases like here on the shoulders of Hibox Mountain.

And some nice color along the trail with views into the canyon and I believe Box Ridge in the distance.

As much as I was motivated to get to the Rampart Lakes and beyond, this trail zapped my joy. The first 3 miles were nicely graded but the last mile to Rachel Lake was steep roots and rocks with hardly any dirt or flat areas in between. This section needs to be rebuilt as this is a very high use trail. If they are going to keep the same path it needs steps or stairs but it seems much better to build on a contour with switchbacks. I should have turned around when I reached this hell because it wasn’t even close to being knee rehab friendly.

Good thing there were a few water features for distractions.

I even found some late season penstemon.

The profile gives you can idea of the steep rooty rocky section. This was well outside my league and turned my smile upside down. I should have done my own research instead of just being giddy from my friend’s photos. There are a couple of other entry trails that might provide better options to access the higher trails.

Back at Cle Elum Lake I found more fall colors to help me return to my happy spot.

After that very challenging day at Rachel Lake I needed a recovery option and found this rail trail to be perfect.

It seems rainy season caught up with me. No complaints since we need rain to clean the air and drown the wildfires. I waited out this storm at a dispersed campsite near Cle Elum Lake.

ADVENTURE DATE(S): September 14-18, 2021

RESOURCES:

LINKS:

WA – Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Ingalls Creek Trail (Sept 2021)

I’d landed in Washington in my continued attempt to escape wildfire smoke. After three days of refuge at Newberry Volcanic National Park (blog link), smoke found me and it was time to run again. I continued north finding options like Bend and John Day with very unhealthy air quality. I had moderate success in finding places to spend the night or hike waiting for the wind to shift again. One winner was in the Leavenworth area where I hiked up Icicle (1,800 feet 5.5 miles) and Nason (1,600 feet 4.5 miles) Ridges. Neither were wow worthy but helped me build my post-knee surgery fitness and kept me moving.

Between those strenuous hikes, I took a stroll on the Ingalls Creek Trail. Once again not wow worthy, but just what I needed in terms of miles, elevation gain and solitude.

Early fall colors were one reward.

Another reward was plentiful water.

After this preview of the Ingalls Creek Trail and with an inviting weather and smoke forecast, I decided to try a 3-day, mini backpacking trip. This would be my first solo since Joan helped me by carrying part of my weight in July.

I was limiting my mileage so my first campsite didn’t offer much in the way of views. This is my new weight-saving Zpacks Plexamid tent, and my first trekking pole and stake dependent shelter. After watching a couple videos I had good success at getting a decent pitch. First impressions leave me concerned about being able to avoid touching the sides in condensation situations. It’s height makes for great in-tent stretching. The DCF material won’t absorb water, another weight-saving benefit when overnighting in rain, which hasn’t yet presented for a test.

I spent a lot of time looking up at these cliffs, remembering my trip into the Enchantments (blog link) many years ago. If I was ready for more strenuous hiking I might have attempted a walk-up permit. One of the things I’m learning is patience and compromise. Baby steps will get me back faster than set backs.

Views from my second night campsite were much improved albeit the temptation to explore were almost more than I could manage. I had to say NO more than once.

Up there is Little Annapurna which I hiked when I was in the Enchantments. Here I am looking down on Ingalls Creek.

I even found a few late blooms.

Most of the fireweed had gone to seed and with each puff of wind the cotton was everywhere. I was sneezing plenty.

The magic of morning light.

One of the few friends I found on the trail.

When you are limiting your mileage, having places like this to break up the day is much better than hanging out in camp.

I can’t wait until my body is up to hiking long days again but until then I’m grateful for trails like this that don’t require advance planning.

I’m happy to have my base weight below 14 pounds.

ADVENTURE DATE(S): September 7-13, 2021

RESOURCES:

LINKS:

Sunset at Lake Wenatchee with a wildfire smoldering off in the distance

OR – Newberry National Volcanic Monument (Sept 2021)

I was running from wildfire smoke (link to previous post). My first night was a little cooler than expected but I slept toasty warm in my car with my down quilt. Love this little temperature gauge. I keep one in my car and one in my backpack. (Amazon link)

I had zero expectations about air quality the next day but it was exciting to see stars and the moon during the night (the benefit of a sunroof) What a treat! I enjoyed an extra cup of coffee while waiting for the sun to rise and the temps to warm. When I checked AQI I was excited to see green which to me means GO! Get outside and breathe.

Not quite ready to trust AQI, I took a drive up to Paulina Peak. It was perfect hiking temp so I hiked the interpretive trail learning about the struggling White Bark Pine trees. Although smoke smudged the views I still enjoyed seeing the Cascade peaks and the view down into Paulina and East Lakes, and Big Obsidian Flow.

I couldn’t resist another wander on the Big Obsidian Flow Trail, even though I’d hiked it on my previous visit a few years ago (link). This is a 1-mile loop rated moderate. It includes stairs and uneven footing.

The afternoon was for absorbing as much natural Vit D as possible while enjoying the lakeshore views.

Warnings of algae bloom and swimmer’s itch kept me out of the water. I was a little jealous though seeing paddleboarders out and about.

After a full day it was back to my special campsite for dinner and another sunset. I was very thankful for a day being outside breathing good air and soaking in the sun.

During the night I saw stars and was excited to know I wouldn’t need to change location. I had more nearby places to explore and more trails to hike. The Crater Rim Trail is a 21-mile multi-use trail for hikers, bikers and equestrians. Leashed dogs are allowed on most trails as well. This one won’t get a WOW per mile award but it was a great workout and I finally surpassed my 2mph average, impressive with a 1,400 foot climb. Bonus: I only saw one other hiker and one biker during my nearly 9-mile jaunt.

The volcanic pumice makes for extremely dusty trails.

This Park and the surrounding forests are filled with wildfire fuel.

There was evidence Deschutes National Forest and the Park have been busy raking the forests. I hope they have an opportunity to burn these debris piles before a wildfire strikes.

My objective on this day was near North Paulina Peak where I had this view of Paulina Lake and Paulina Peak.

North Paulina Peak isn’t very impressive and wasn’t worth off-trail exploration on this day. I turned around at the Swamp Wells trail junction making this a 9-mile round trip trek.

This is North Paulina Peak from Paulina Lake.

Proof the pumice trail is indeed dusty. I think I broke in my new shoes! As always I really appreciate my Dirty Girl Gaiters for keeping most of the dirt out of my shoes.

The Visitor’s Center was open when I finished my hike and after chatting with a very friendly volunteer, the Lost Lake Trail was recommended. It’s rated difficult although I’m not really sure why. There are options to extend or turn into a loop but I hiked a bit beyond the Pumice Flat junction and that resulted in about 7 miles round trip with 1,000 feet elevation gain/loss.

This photo is from my Big Obsidian Flow hike. The Lost Lakes are not visible nor accessible during today’s hike, not to mention they are dried up at this time of year. Apparently thousands of frogs lay eggs and hang out in the lakes before beginning their mass migration through the obsidian flow, typically in August. Thus off-trail visits to this area are highly discouraged. You can see one of the dry lakes on the far side of the obsidian flow in this photo. The Lost Lake Trail climbs about 1,000 feet through this beautiful forest with occasional opportunities for big views of Paulina Lake, Paulina Peak and Big Obsidian Flow.

The red line is my track from the Lost Lake Trail. You can see the “lakes” surrounding the flow.

I’m glad I was referencing my digital topography maps on Gaia or I might have been tempted to descend from here to try to reach Lost Lakes.

There was lots of obsidian, showcasing many shapes, sizes and textures.

I would have loved to have had a geologist or ranger along to educate me regarding the volcanic activity.

I liked the variety of this trail, especially when I reached a plateau filled with I believe Bristlecone and White Bark Pine trees, and views of Paulina Peak.

Pumice Flat was an interesting short detour off the main trail.

This was my turnaround spot. I’d like to return and hike the lollypop loop.

It takes a lot of time for a tree to take root in lava flows. I recently read it takes about 1,000 years for enough soil to be deposited for a seed to take root.

I was hoping these clouds would gift me an awesome sunset as well as some much needed rain to clean the air.

Sadly neither happened and instead I woke to smoke-filled skies the next morning. There was no doubt my time at Newberry was over for now.

I’d like to say this is fog over Paulina Lake, but alas it’s smoke. I’d hoped to explore the Lava Cast Forest, Hoffman Island and Lava Lands. Those will remain on my list for a future visit.

Adventure Date(s):

  • September 1-4, 2021

Tips:

  • There is no backcountry camping (car or backpacking) allowed in the park. There are several nice campgrounds.
  • Dispersed camping is available on forest service roads outside the park as well as at the nearby snow parks.

Resources:

Links:

CA – Klamath National Forest, Living Memorial Sculpture Garden (August 2021)

I returned home from a couple weeks in the Redwoods (link) to more smoke, bad air quality, hot temps and forest closures.

Where oh where to go? There were only a few places showing consistent good air quality. The coast, the Flagstaff area and the Washington cascades. Of course all it takes is a change of winds to dictate new smoke zones.

Since I’m not really a coastal gal and having just spent a couple weeks there, I chose north. I grabbed a bunch of maps prepared to run from the smoke, using Purple Air as my guide.

I stopped to stretch my legs at the Living Sculpture Memorial Garden (link) near Mt Shasta.

It was still quite smoky and I was happy to have N95 masks.

The images are powerful and my timing was appropriate as there had just been deaths in Afghanistan.

This was one of my high school teachers.

Mt Shasta was nearly invisible due to the nearby fires.

You can see on Gaia the colored blobs which represent this year’s fires. Two crossed Highway 97 which I was driving, the Lava and Tenant fires. The Antelope Fire is still burning and hopefully will be snuffed out with plentiful snow and rain this fall.

I was testing an air purifier (Amazon link) suitable for car use with USB power and rechargeable batteries. I’m happy to report it made a huge difference driving through smoky areas as well as sleeping in lower AQI than optimal.

Gaia has a new map layers showing AQI for today and tomorrow. I drove 6 hours to land outside the yellow zone where I found blue sky. I’d hoped to stop at Crater Lake but it was completely smoked in according to my resources, with AQI around 300. The purple blob is where my house lives and what I’d be breathing if I hadn’t escaped. Last year I purchased an air purifier for my house (Amazon link). It helps but being stuck inside is not my idea of fun.

Ah happiness is finding blue sky!

I found a dispersed campsite where I could enjoy some fresh air.

I enjoyed watching the sunset and had hopes for good AQI for nearby hiking the next day.

My heart is filled with much empathy to those who can’t escape and especially those who have homes, family, friends and communities at risk.

DATE(S): Aug 31, 2021

RESOURCES:

Other Jaunts in California (link)

CA – Redwood Coast (Part 2 of 2) (Aug 2021)

The previous post covered my trip south of Orick including Grizzly Creek State Park, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Patrick’s Point State Park, and Humboldt Lagoons State Park plus an introduction to Redwoods National Park (link). As I stated in that post, the relationship between the Redwoods National and State Parks vs other nearby State Parks with Redwood in their name is confusing at best. “Redwood National and State Parks represent a cooperative management effort of the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation that includes Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek State Park.” Basically this combined entity excludes coastal areas south of Orick.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Gold Bluffs Beach Campground

This was the only campground I stayed at with easy beach access. What it lacks in privacy and wind protection it makes up for with the best ocean music. You reserve sites through Reserve California which is how I made all my reservations. There is an Iron Ranger should you choose to try for a walk-up option. There is also a ranger fee booth before the campground, but a ways down the long dusty road.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Elk Prairie Campground

This is the best place to base camp if you’re a hiker as there are 75 miles of trails in the Park. Another benefit is nearby elk viewing, well sometimes they visit the meadows but not during the five nights I stayed.

Most days I found a herd somewhere along a nearby road.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Fern Canyon Trail

This is one of the most popular hikes in the Park and as such has a day use fee; however, it’s waived if you are staying at one of park campgrounds or have an America the Beautiful Pass.

This is a place to plan on getting your feet wet and is not the best for those looking for a smooth trail. I didn’t bring my hiking poles and wished I had them to assist with scrambling and slippery sections. There are also a few sets of primitive stairs if you want to walk the loop.

Prunella vulgaris, the common self-heal, heal-all, woundwort, heart-of-the-earth, carpenter’s herb, brownwort or blue curls, is a herbaceous plant in the mint family Lamiaceae.

Five-Finger Western Maidenhair Fern (notice the long middle finger).

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Moorman Pond Trail

This trail provides a lot of WOW per mile enjoyment. It’s one of the shorter trails but is much less busy than those within walking distance of the campground.

My friend works for the Forest Service and was well versed in the Redwood trees, teaching me a few key details such as that the trees have a different type of greenery in the canopy verses lower down. The tannins in the bark are what protects the trees from fires and disease. It was interesting to note the trees are not hosts to moss like many other species. Also the cones are tiny in comparison to other trees. To learn more, here’s an educational NPS link.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Miner’s Ridge/Clintonia/James Irvine Loop Trails

Probably the most popular longer trail in the Park is James Irvine to Fern Canyon, with many looping back on the Miner’s Ridge Trail. Since I’d already hike the Fern Canyon loop I opted for an abbreviated version. I got an early start and only saw a couple of backpackers along the Miner’s Ridge section and then didn’t meet hikers again until I reached the James Irvine section and even then probably only a dozen.

I didn’t find any Clintonia seedpods on the named trail but found these on an earlier hike. They were quite eye catching with the blue among so much green and probably standing about 3′ tall.

I look forward to seeing it in bloom someday. I need to go back in early spring some year to see azaleas, rhododendrons, skunk cabbage, trillium and many others blooming.

There was so much visual stimulation.

The trillium was huge with leaves ranging from greens to purples.

It was so peaceful wandering the quiet forests, feeling like a tiny munchkin among the giant trees and plants. I loved the variety with fog, shadows, blades of light, breezes and stillness.

Nursery trees are one of my favorites.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, West Ridge/Zigzag #2/Prairie Creek Loop Trails

This was my longest hike and for the most part it was another day of pleasant wandering through a redwood forest, albeit the name “ridge” is a misnomer and it was much more of a rollercoaster with no true ridges or views. I didn’t care for the northern section of the Prairie Creek Trail. It’s more overgrown with a lot of sun exposure and frequent vehicle noise from nearby Newton B Drury Parkway. I spent time looking at trees sporting obvious burned bark. Most were still alive and growing with large heads of greenery. The rangers indicated there hasn’t been a fire for over 200 years. It was hard to imagine. Redwoods are known to live 2,000 years.

Soft shoots of baby redwoods.

Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana) carpets the ground. The underside is purple and there were still a few blooms.

While staying at the Elk Prairie Campground, I tended to hike in the morning and beachcomb in the afternoon. My favorite spot was near the Kuchel Visitor Center just south of Orick. There is plenty of parking, a restroom and no fees required. In Orick there is a small grocery store and an eatery (that is occasionally open). Trinidad is about 20 miles south of Orick and offers many more options.

All too soon my reservations were up and it was time to say goodbye to the Redwood coast. Now that I’m more knowledgeable about how the State and Park systems work, what is fee based and what’s free, how to get last minute reservations, where to stay and what to do, I won’t wait nearly as long before my next visit.

Did I come to like staying in campgrounds? No; however, I enjoyed a few benefits. Having nearby water and trash was convenient as were showers when they worked. Collecting blackberries for breakfast on my way back from sharing dinner with the invisible elk, was a plus. I hated the nightly ritual of campfire smoke turning my tiny site into an ashtray, not much different than the wildfire smoke I’d runaway from. I seriously wish camping with campfires would become a thing of the past. It was really miserable having to lock myself in my car with the windows closed when it was time to sleep. I just purchased a mini air purifier for my car and am hopeful it’ll help eliminate smoke in the future.

I won’t soon forget the calm I felt among the gentle giants.

TIP: Don’t count on the accuracy of GPS trackers. It’s very challenging to get a clear view of the sky with the tall trees and dense canopy. In fact I hard to work hard to send my Inreach checkins. Usually I had to get to a road or meadow.

DATE(S) HIKED: Aug 12-21, 2021

Link to Part 1

RESOURCES:

Other Jaunts in California (link)

CA – Redwood Coast (Part 1 of 2) (Aug 2021)

Dense wildfire smoke sent me in search of a location where I could find consistent green AQI (air quality index) ratings, which meant the coast. With my normal route closed due to raging wildfires, I opted for the more southernly route which resulted in the beginning of my redwoods tour. While my home base is within a few hours of the northern California coast, I’ve only visited a handful of times so this was going to be an opportunity to fully immerse myself.

Campground or lodging reservations are a must. Planning 6 months in advance will never be my forte’ but learning that Reserve California releases cancellations every morning at 8am opened opportunities. Although I’d prefer to disperse camp, those options don’t exist along this section of coastline. So with the motivation to escape smoke-laden skies, I secured about 10 nights of reservations at 4 different campgrounds geographically separated.

The relationship between the Redwoods National and State Parks vs other nearby State Parks with Redwood in their name is confusing at best. “Redwood National and State Parks represent a cooperative management effort of the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation that includes Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek State Park.” Basically this combined entity excludes coastal areas south of Orick; those areas are included in this blog post.

Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park

This is a very small park offering camping and day use areas near the junction of Highway 36 and Interstate 101. I spent my first night here and stretched my legs wandering through the Williams and Graham Grove and Jameson Grove. Save the Redwoods Leagueis a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and restore California redwoods and connect people to the peace and beauty of redwood forests. The League protects redwoods by purchasing redwood forests and the surrounding land needed to nurture them. We restore redwood forests by innovating science and technology that can improve stewardship and accelerate forest regeneration. And by protecting more than 200,000 acres and helping to create 66 redwood parks and reserves, the League builds connections among people and the redwood forests. The League’s work is grounded in the principles of conservation biology, research and improving our collective understanding and appreciation of the redwoods.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park (Avenue of the Giants)

A bit further south is the well-known 32-mile Avenue of the Giants auto tour. This park hosts the largest remaining old-growth redwood forest in the world, with some believed to be 2,000 years old. Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest trees on earth, towering above 370 feet. Access fees seem to be limited to campgrounds otherwise you can drive the various roads in the park and hike a multitude of trails without needing to pay. I utilized the Redwood Hikes website to help me narrow down trails throughout this trip. I’ll reserve at this campground in the future so I can hike more of the 100 miles of trails. I was there on a Friday morning mid August and it wasn’t in the least bit busy, although all of the campgrounds were fully reserved.

  • Bull Creek Loop and Big Trees Trails
  • Rockefeller Loop Trail
  • Greig-French-Bell Trail

City of Trinidad

Over the years I’ve spent more time in this town than any others along the northern California coast. It’s a beautiful seaside city boasting ten public beaches. I think it also might be the winner of most beautiful yards award as colorful blooms adorn every street. There are some great places to eat and explore.

I hiked up Trinidad Head where you not only get a workout but are provided most excellent harbor views.

Orange Bush Monkeyflower (Diplacus aurantiacus) lined the trail.

Patrick’s Point State Park

This has been a favored campground and the only one I recall staying at during previous visits to the coast, except as a young child when my family took a trailer up somewhere near Crescent City. This park charges a day-use fee for those not camping. Fog was a nice change from smoke although views down to Agate Beach were impacted. Skies cleared the next morning and I saw a whale from this same viewpoint.

Montbretia, although non native, was a common bloom in the park, Trinidad and nearby coastal areas.

A friend and her 9-year old son joined me and since we’d already hiked most of the park trails, we decided to first explore Yurok Sumeg Village.

Humboldt Lagoons State Park

This Park consists of several lagoons bordering the Pacific Ocean. Once again this is a no fee area except for camping. We parked at Stone Lagoon day use area, and spent the day wandering the spit on a section of the California Coastal Trail.

Sea Bindweed (Calystegia soldanella)

Redwoods National ParkThe California Coastal Trail, Skunk Cabbage Section

Unlike other trails, the California Coastal Trail (CCT) consists of many disconnected sections best accessed by vehicles and planned as shorter backpack trips or day hikes. Although this trailhead was in a National Park, there wasn’t a fee station or sign indicating that it was a fee area.

It was well past peak skunk cabbage bloom season but I found a few seed pods.

Pacific Banana Slug

Bubble Gum Fungus – Lycogala epidendrum, commonly known as wolf’s milk, groening’s slime is a cosmopolitan species of myxogastrid amoeba which is often mistaken for a fungus.

The giant ferns and all the bright colors kept me smiling.

While the trail continues down to the beach I turned around at the high point, a bit beyond this viewpoint.

My first four days of this coastal getaway were everything I could have expected and more. Beautiful forests, giant trees, sandy beaches, perfect temperatures, flora and fauna, crowd-free trails, lots of new stimulation, and my favorite nature color, green!

DATE(S) HIKED: Aug 12-21, 2021

Link to Part 2

RESOURCES:

Other Jaunts in California (link)

WA – Mount Rainier National Park, Mowich Lake Trailhead (Spray Park) (July 2021)

I remember when I hiked the Wonderland Trail (link) regretting that I didn’t have time to visit much acclaimed Spray Park. With Joan’s help, this was going to be my opportunity for a do over. But first, since I’d had a rest day after hiking, we decided to make it a twofer day.

Eunice Lake/Tolmie Peak

While Joan hiked to the lookout at Tolmie Peak, I enjoyed a swim at Eunice Lake and wished I too could be up on that rim.

Ascending 1,000 feet in 2.5 miles is still quite challenging for me as I regain fitness following my lengthy knee surgery rehab.

Eagles Roost/Spray Park

This was to be my first backpack trip in 10 months. Joan offered to carry part of my weight to ensure success. We were able to secure walk-up permits to this campsite only a couple miles from the trailhead.

We were offered this view of Mt Rainier on the way to our campsite. We were both still pinching ourselves at our luck with perfect weather, amazing views and backcountry permits.

I was incredibly happy to have Joan as my enabler.

Spray Falls

We’d read that we should visit Spray Falls for sunset, and so we did. Well we might have needed to go a bit later but we couldn’t find an easy way to cross the creek for optimal views and were certainly not going to attempt in the dark so we accepted the visit as good enough.

Spray Park

We wondered if there would be a sign welcoming us to The Park, but alas without such a sign we decided this bridge marked the boundary. I’d never heard the word park used to mean meadows until I hiked the Wonderland Trail.

We’d been warned about the skeeters in Spray Park so we came prepared.

In the background is Hessong Rock a very popular day hike.

Mountain Bog Gentian

The Avalanche Lilies were HUGE!

We were headed to a lake below the pointed rock, Observation Rock.

Everywhere we looked were floral delights.

We’d brought our microspikes in anticipation of this. It was so much fun to walk on snow. We met a snowboarder who’d been up to the top and enjoyed his ride down.

We had a few uphill climbs but our microspikes handled it like champs.

When we were hot or needed a break we found a perfect canvas for making snow angels.

Yay we found J&J Lake, an unnamed lake below Observation Peak.

There were 360 degree views.

And of course we swam. YES it was cold and our swims were short.

Looking back at where we’d been.

We found the energy to hike back up to the viewpoint to watch sunset. 

Pacific Coralroot was a highlight of our campsite.

While the miles might not have been impressive, I was thrilled to complete my first backpack trip in 10 months.

Thanks Joan for making this trip possible. What a wonderful week we shared in Mt Rainier National Park, making memories and living without regrets. As my niece would say, living our best lives!

I wonder if my surgeon and physical therapist would have approved this activity? I stayed away from the snow all winter and spring, but by the end of July I could no longer resist.

DATE(S) HIKED: July 29-31, 2021

RESOURCES:

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

WA – Mount Rainier National Park, Sunrise (Sourdough Ridge/Dege Peak) (July 2021)

Joan and I were giddy with joy from our last two days spent in Rainier alpine zone and couldn’t resist pushing our luck. As we joked, this will be another rest day for Jan. It was my 7th day in a row of hiking and I sure didn’t want to risk a setback, but . . . it’s impossible to say no to such opportunities. We were in the right place at the right time! So back to Sunrise we went. This time we took the Sourdough Ridge Trail to the east, rather than west as previous day (link).

Early morning light on the Sourdough Trail. The mound in the background is First Burrough we’d hiked the previous day.

This meadow kept us smiling. This is probably the largest display of Dr. Seuss mop heads I’ve ever seen (pasqueflowers).

Even the birds found these plumes worthy of a stop over. A birder informed me this is a Pine Siskin.

The asters brightened the meadows. Sunrise lodge is in the valley. This photo was taken at 7:30am. Within an hour the parking lot and road will be packed.

My view from Dege Peak.

This was my turnaround spot while Joan continued on to eventually drop 1,000 feet to the Lakes Trail which included Sunrise and Palisades Lakes. We couldn’t decide if the haze was smoke or clouds, but it burned off later in the day so clouds seemed to win.

The view into the lakes basin from Dege Peak.

These yellow blooms seemed to fit the Dr. Seuss theme.

I finally found a butterfly willing to sit for a portrait.

I couldn’t help but wonder if we were in for a weather change.

I love how the Sourdough Ridge trail showcases varied geology as well as provides amazing views of the mountain.

The marmots loved the lupine. This guy was taking large bites. YUM!

I found more Sky Pilots (Jacob’s Ladder).

When I was done lollygagging on Sourdough Ridge and the Nature Trail high route, I visited the Emmons Glacier vista to learn more about this largest-in-the-nation glacier.

Yes indeed it was another zero. Ha another non-rest rest day. Ok friends might consider it a zero or nero but it was plenty of work for me.

I added a solar shower to my car camping kit. We’d fill it in the morning and let it heat on my dashboard and then shower in camp. This was the only time we had neighbors and had to erect a bit of a privacy curtain, otherwise we found sheltered areas near our campsite. We survived 11 days without a real shower! Being able to rinse off the sweat and dust before bed made sleeping much better, although this night I had a pesky mouse in my house who just didn’t want to leave or die.

DATE(S) HIKED: July 27, 2021

RESOURCES:

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

WA – Mount Rainier National Park, Sunrise (Sourdough Ridge/Sunrise Rim Loop) (July 2021)

After the previous day’s hike (link) where we repeatedly said WOW WOW WOW, Joan and I couldn’t resist another day at Mt Rainier. With a newfound confidence after hiking a trail rated strenuous, I was happy to test another. This time we started from the Sunrise area. Once again we got an early start and were rewarded with front row parking. Our first objective was Frozen Lake along the Sourdough Ridge Trail.

The Sourdough Ridge trail toward Frozen Lake. My kind of WOW! Oh how I love above tree line traversing trails.

I was feeling a bit fatigued as this was my 6th day in a row to hike, so I sent Joan off to hike to the Mt Fremont lookout while I enjoyed lake views and watching people, marmots and mountain goats.

The white specks are a large herd of mountain goats and if you look close you’ll see lots of humans as well. Since I’ve seen plenty I stuck with the plan to rest while Joan was hiking up to the Mt. Fremont lookout.

Our next objective was Burroughs Mountain. I’m curious about the names, First Burroughs, Second and Third.

I hiked to First and sent Joan up Second. Of course I wanted to go but I also wanted plenty of recovery time to finish the hike, as well as hike again the next day.

From First Burrough I had a great view back at Mt Fremont Lookout where Joan hiked while I rested at Frozen Lake. Notice how the trail drops behind the ridge to continue onto the lookout, very deceptive from my limited view while waiting at the lake.

I never mind resting when I have views like these.

Looking back at First Burrough (the flattish ridge).

We completed our hike by making a loop with views of Emmons Glacier, which has the largest surface area of any glacier in the contiguous United States.

Shadow Lake

Yep bears sh** in the woods!

The downhill was tough. My hips and quads were getting quite the workout controlling my descents. But thankfully the knee was performing admirably.

It was another WOW day! The Sunrise area is drier than Paradise leading to fewer wildflowers and a lot more dust, but those views just can’t be beat.

DATE(S) HIKED: July 26, 2021

RESOURCES:

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