WA – Mount Rainier National Park, Chinook Pass (Oct 2021)

I knew I was pushing my luck finding peak autumn colors. But the hikes at Chinook Pass were on my POI list and since there was a nearby fire when I was in the area in early August, I took the detour on my southward journey.

When I got started in the morning I was feeling disappointed in myself. Why? Well first when I arrived at the trailhead the previous afternoon the light was optimal and I should have hiked the very popular Naches Peak Loop Trail but the hundreds of cars removed all motivation for that option. Second I missed a spectacular sunrise by arriving about 15 minutes late the next morning. Would it be a 3-strike trip? I certainly felt more optimistic when I turned around and found this view of Mount Rainier and Yakima Peak shortly after starting my hike.

I knew the only way I’d be able to enjoy this hike was to get an early morning start.

There was no doubt I was a couple weeks past peak colors and with the overcast skies I wasn’t going to get great reflections either. But look, no people! I had the pond to myself.

The northern section of the Naches Peak Loop Trail is shared with the PCT until it continues south dropping to Dewey Lake.

As I turned west, I found an obvious well used viewpoint and was happy to have the clouds part just enough for a little peek of these mountains.

As I stood there, I thought I saw more in the background. Is that snow? If so that must be Mount Rainer.

I watched the clouds drift in and out for a good 30 minutes, playing peek-a-boo with Mount Rainier.

Taking time to watch nature’s magic was exactly what I needed on this day.

As I continued the loop I was gifted this view of Naches Peak.

By the time I reached Tipsoo Lakes, the crowds were arriving and it started feeling like Disneyland.

I took a little break at my car before continuing my hike north on the PCT. My first stop was very popular Sheep Lake. I met a ton of people coming down from an overnight at the lake. Can you imagine sharing with 20-50 people? That’s what you get without permits and quotas and a lake 2 miles from a paved trailhead. My destination was Sourdough Gap at the top of the ridge.

This section of trail was much less busy.

Looking down at Sheep Lake as I climbed toward Sourdough Gap.

Sourdough Gap provided views of Three Way Peak. I thought I’d be able to see Mount Rainer as I’d gotten a glimpse as I climbed up to the pass.

The PCT continues north through Sourdough Gap, but after a short traverse it drops to the right below Three Peaks. The trail that stays high is Crystal Lakes Trail and the visible pass invited further exploration.

Success! That was the view I was hoping to find. Upper Crystal Lake is another popular overnight and day hike destination. It’s important to note these lakes are in the National Park. I don’t know permitting requirements but signs clearly indicated dogs prohibited. Sad to say I witnessed many who don’t believe rules apply to them.

Overall I’d call this day a win although I wouldn’t say it was in my top 10 and it’s unlikely I’d repeat except for hiking this full section of the PCT, which I’m still missing on my quest to complete Washington.

Do you know this tree? There were several along this section of the trail and they didn’t seem to belong but they sure were pretty.

I’m so pleased with my continued knee rehab progress.

ADVENTURE DATE(S): October 3-4, 2021

RESOURCES:

LINKS:

WA – North Cascades, Maple Pass Trail (Sept 2021)

I’d always wanted to see the tapestry of autumn colors found in the Northern Cascades.

I was a little early for the larch show but the overcast skies made the other colors pop. That’s Lake Ann hiding below the still green larch trees. “Larch is any of the coniferous trees belonging to the genus Larix categorized under the family Pinaceae. Although these are classified as conifers, larches turn yellow and lose their needles in the autumn or fall just like deciduous trees. These are medium-sized trees with the typical pyramidal canopy of conifers. They are found in places with cold climates and plenty of moisture.” Source: Coniferous Forest

As I gained elevation I found a few larch showing off their golden hue.

I hiked the trail counterclockwise, stopping at Lake Ann first, then taking a break at Heather Pass before climbing up to the first Maple Pass then traversing the ridge to reach the second Maple Pass. This little tarn and snowfield were visible when I began my descent. Rainy Lake is further down the drainage.

THIS is the tapestry I came to see.

I shared the trail with a grouse family.

I loved this hike so much I couldn’t resist returning a week later. As much as I hoped for brilliant blue skies showcasing the golden larch, Mother Nature had other plans. It was a damp brisk 33F when I started my hike around 8am. There was fresh snow on the nearby peaks.

As I gained elevation I found snow level. The tapestry of color was dulled by a thin veil of white.

I believe this is Wing Lake (or Lewis Lake) which I’d planned to visit after reaching my highpoint turnaround. On this date I didn’t plan to hike the loop, instead just going to Maple Pass before returning to Heather Pass where could spend a few hours exploring this side trail and these lakes.

Another bucket list item was seeing larch IN the snow, maybe not while it was snowing.

The cloud ceiling dropped and not long after I reached the first Maple Pass, I found myself in a whiteout.

To say I was giddy is an understatement. So much WOW in that little storm. It completely changed the landscape providing lots of photographic opportunities, although I was wishing for my winter gloves.

I was still a bit early for peak larch season but I was beyond thrilled with this experience. I’m guessing once the slope above Lake Ann is covered in yellow larch, the reds and oranges of the other foliage will be gone thus making my timing spot on.

I think this pika was smiling at me.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to nature’s quilt.

ADVENTURE DATE(S): September 22 and 29, 2021

TIPS:

  • This can be a super busy trail. There is room for about 50 cars in the main parking area and signs indicating overflow parking on the highway. When I arrived in the late afternoon the day before my first hike there were at least 100 cars on the highway. It was on a heavy overcast day. I started early and only saw about a dozen people. There wasn’t anyone in overflow when I finished my hike. On my return trip, it was damp, cold and mostly overcast again. It was a much busier day even though both trips were on Wednesdays under cloudy skies and had early starts. When I finished on that second day, there was a mile or two of cars parked along the highway.
  • This hike is outside North Cascades National Park, but just on the boundary.
  • The Heather Pass/Maple Pass trail is a loop and can be hiked in either direction. After reading reviews I decided on counter clockwise. The benefit is a more gradual climb and more controlled descent. If you go clockwise, you’ll face a steeper ascent and a less controlled descent on the sections between the first and second Maple Passes. If you don’t want to deal with the steep sections, I highly recommend going counterclockwise to the first Maple Pass and then turning around. You can see the differences on this profile pictured below.

RESOURCES:

LINKS:

WA – North Cascades, Blue Lake and Cutthroat Pass (Sept 2021)

Larch Madness! I’d caught the fever and couldn’t get enough as I continued my search for peak conditions.

My larch march began and ended at Ingalls Pass in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (blog link). In between I spent time along Highway 20 in the North Cascades, with two trips to Maple Pass (blog link) bookending trips to Blue Lake and on the PCT from Rainy Pass to Cutthroat Pass.

Blue Lake

I needed a recovery day so had planned this easier hike. As I was completing preparations for my hike, a large van arrived with a group of at least a dozen teenagers disembarking. Oh no, so much for my peaceful day. I was motivated to stay ahead of them. I decided to explore the junction leading to the Early Winter Spires. The sign at the trailhead indicated this was a climbers route but I figured there would be a reasonably graded hiking trail I could explore while gaining a little elevation. That was not be the case and instead I turned around when the trail became cairn route and rock scramble.

The kids were taking a break at the junction when I returned to the main trail and thus was once again motivated to reach Blue Lake before the masses. I learned later this group was part of a partnership between local schools and the Outward Bound program. I heard several hikers complaining about kids hiking instead of being in school. My thought was how wonderful to expose kids to something besides sports and activities more typically found in PE departments. They were well behaved, respectful and even separated later in the day for individual projects.

I had stopped at Washington Pass earlier in the morning and captured this photo of the other side of Liberty Bell Mountain.

The Tarn Loop Trail offers this view of possibly Cutthroat Peak and/or Whistler Mountain.

I wandered around the far side of the lake for lunch. The kids were gathered on a large rock near the trail junction. This lake offers very little privacy. I wanted to swim so bad. I waited and waited for them to leave but even when they separated for their projects there was just too much exposure. I always think of that saying, “what the eyes can’t unsee.” I wasn’t ready to strip to my underwear in front of these youngsters so instead I watched the fish and the larch reflections.

Rainy Pass to Cutthroat Pass on the PCT

I was reminded that the autumn season is short here in the far north and although it’s still September, days are short. At 9am the shadows were still more prevalent than the sun.

At 11am I was still climbing and in search of sun.

I finally found sun around 11:45am as I neared the pass.

When I reached the top I found distant snowy peaks.

Looking over the pass I was tempted to continue onward to Granite Pass, but since I was already pushing my limits at a 10+ mile day, I knew it was in my best interest to say no. Besides I have bad memories from my PCT attempt at that pass (WA – PCT Section L . . . as in Lame ) so it was definitely better to save it for another year.

In the photo above where the person and horses are standing is a junction. The PCT continues straight where the trail to the right drops to Cutthroat Lake as shown in below photo. You can access the lake from another trailhead off of Highway 20. Unlike the PCT, the Cutthroat Lake trail is bike friendly and I saw several on this day.

This is looking up at Cutthroat Peak. From the Pass you can see a trail used to climb the peak or ridge. If I hadn’t used up my miles, I might have explored the ridge.

This is a view of Cutthroat Peak from my hike to Blue Lake.

On this day I enjoyed the company of a 70+ year old group of guys. One of the guys, about to celebrate his 75th birthday, was in phenomenal condition. I aspire to being more like him now and into the future!

The larch might not have been at peak but I sure enjoyed all the reds.

As I neared the trailhead I ran into some facebook friends I hadn’t met in person. They were headed to Hart’s Pass on the PCT where they found peak larch colors.

PCT grade is perfect for my knee surgery rehab.

When I began this trip it was to escape wildfires and smoke. Back in early August Joan and I had hoped to land at Rainy Pass where she could complete her remaining PCT miles. But these two fires made that impossible and in fact as I drove Highway 20 in September, the Cedar Creek Fire was still smoldering. The Gaia maps now include several layers related to fires and air quality.

I also use the weather layers on Gaia for hike and travel planning. As we rolled from summer into fall, I found myself running from precipitation rather than smoke.

Monument Creek Trail, Pasayten Wilderness

While I was waiting out storms to return to Maple Pass, I found this trail near Mazama and planned to hike to Eureka Creek from the trailhead.

The bridge across Eureka Creek is long gone, making for a treacherous crossing most of the year. As such signage at the trailhead indicated no trail maintenance beyond this creek for over 25 years. I saw a couple heading out with backpacks. I wondered if they found decent options. It’s hunting season so they may have had other plans.

Spokane Gulch Trail, Methow Valley Trails

I met up with this legendary trail angel and first woman to solo hike the PCT, Carolyn aka Ravensong (Link to article in The Trek).

This is looking down at the community of Mazama and shows just how close the Cedar Creek Fire came to wiping out the town.

Susie Stephens Trail, Methow Valley Trails

I spent time wandering trails in the communities of Winthrop and Twisp. On this day I was waiting out the storms AGAIN.

This storm dropped a little snow which added to my Larch Madness!

ADVENTURE DATE(S): September 23-28, 2021

RESOURCES:

LINKS:

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

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)

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)