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)

CA – Mt Shasta Wilderness, South Gate Meadows Trailhead

I hadn’t hiked in a month. Between the heat, fires and smoke, I was on hiking hiatus. It was making me really grumpy so I decided to see if I could find an escape. I checked Purple Air, web cams and the smoke maps. I was hopeful. The skies looked clear but my lungs said otherwise as I drove through the canyon. I took a double dose of my inhaler and donned my hiking uniform. The temperature at 7,800 feet was a pleasant 70F degrees as compared to home where the overnight low had been 75F.

Looking to the west, the brown smoky skies hide Castle Crags and the Trinity Alps.

I was welcomed with this splash of color.

Soon enough I reached the wilderness boundary.

There are plenty of rocky features to explore like this unnamed 8,300′ peak. Meanwhile the plant life is sparse.

Green Butte at 9,193′ is a geologic beauty.

Hummingbird Spring is a one of many reliable springs on the mountain. It was a little past peak wildflower season but a few blooms remained. I didn’t take photos so I must not have been very impressed.

The butterflies enjoyed this oasis.

After hiking through a forested section, you turn the corner and find yourself at South Gate Meadows.

I’ve only hiked this trail one time previously and it was 8 years ago. This photo I took then shows better perspective.

The meadow marks the end of the maintained trail. However there are unmaintained trails inviting further exploration which is of course what I did. It’s important to be mindful of this fragile environment by staying on the well-used trails or rocky surfaces.

You can see the damage throughout the meadow. This is looking east toward Mt Lassen, again hidden by the smoke from nearby wildfires.

When you look at the mountain, your first impression is lots and lots of gray rock. These spring fed creeks create welcome relief.

Shastarama Point draws me upward.

Turning the corner I found colorful delight and more Dr. Seuss flowers, which had been dominant along many earlier sections of the trail.

There were tons of monkey flowers.

After reaching the spring, and then the ridge, I couldn’t help but see if I could find better views by wandering this escarpment.

I was thrilled to find views new to me, most notably Shastarama Point.

A close up of Shastarama.

Rather than retracing my steps, I decided to take an off-trail route through the rocks to create a bit of a lollipop loop. You can now also see a better angle on the side views of this lower part of the mountain. Shastarama Point is at 11,000+ feet whereas Mt Shasta Peak is at 14,000+ feet. Looks are deceptive!

Back on the main trail, this is a different side of Shastarama.

And the view more often seen by peak baggers summiting via the Bunny Flat or Old Ski Bowl route.

For those interested here’s a better perspective.

All too soon it was time to drop back into the smoke. Even at elevation my chest burned from the smoke. I was grateful for the blue skies and a break from the heat. There was a welcome breeze, and of course the streams to keep my temperature comfortable.

Adventure Date(s):

  • August 14, 2020

Hike Details:

Tips:

  • There are quite a few permit requirements and backcountry rules in the area. You’ll want to review the USFS information if you want to backpack or disperse camp (link).

  • Check weather forecasts. It can be quite windy and the mountain makes it’s own weather.

Resources:

Links:

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CA – Russian/Marble Mountain Wildernesses, a PCT Wildflower Jaunt

In addition to the debut of a PCT Swimmer’s Route (blog link), there were plenty of wildflowers to be found between swimming destinations. These photos were taken on a 35-mile section between Carter Summit and Man Eaten Lake.

Collomia grandiflora (Large-flowered collomia)

My book calls the blue in the center pollen; I assumed it was stamen. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen these so I was excited to find them along the trail. I’ve never seen them in groups or patches, always solo with maybe one companion. Hey, that describes me.

Allium

I should have taken more photos. These plants were so whimsical.

Lewisia cotyledon, Siskiyou lewisia

These beauties were fairly plentiful along this section of the trail.

Polemonium ? Jacob’s Ladder ?

I wasn’t able to easily identify these. These blooms were a rare sighting on the trail.

Penstemon and Paintbrush

There were multiple varieties of penstemon along the trail and it probably the most plentiful bloom on this trip.

There were several varieties of yellow flowers along the trail. They added a nice punch of color.

In wet areas I found Leopard Lily. Tigers have stripes, leopards have spots. At least that’s what I was told by a local botanist. 

Western Pasqueflower aka Anemone occidentalis

The first of the season Dr. Seuss mop heads. It was still a bit too early to find the best messy hair versions.

Pyrola crypta (Pine-drops)

This was by far my most exciting find. I had yet to see blooming pine-drops.

Lilium rubescens, Chaparral Lily, Redwood Lily

Not positive on the ID, but loved smelling these lilies before seeing them. They were just starting to bloom. I saw a lot more buds than blooms. Such showstoppers!

And a few more just because I can never get enough.

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 8-14, 2020

Hike Details:

This is my one-way track from Carter Summit to Man Eaten Lake. It includes the lakes I visited as I hiked north but not the ones from the southbound trip. I’d say it’d be fair it was around 85 miles with 13,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.

Tips:

  • Order your map in advance or call the ranger station to see if they have available.
  • Obtain your California campfire permit online in advance (it’s required for your backpacking stove).
  • Mileage in Art’s book were quite different than those I obtained from my Gaia track and noted above.
  • Guthook/Atlas app is great for viewing current water conditions.

Resources:

Links:

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

CA – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Long Canyon Trailhead . . . summer jaunting

The majority of hikers use the Long Canyon Trail to reach the Four-Lakes Loop, as I did last September.

Long Canyon trail lined with Dr. Seuss flowers, aka Western pasqueflower (Pulsatilla or Anemone occidentalis).

If you are one of the few who enjoy route finding, hiking off-trail, bushwhacking, and scrambling, you’ll love the lakes hidden behind this ridge.

From Bowerman Meadow, looking up at the ridge sheltering the lakes.

Lake Anna

Billy Be Damned Lake

Sunrise at Lake Anna

Sunbeam reflection upon Lake Anna

Infinity image at Lake Anna

 

Jan’s Tips:

  • Reference my Trinity Alps Trails Link Page for maps, books, online resources, etc.
  • For travel in the Trinity Alps, I highly recommend having a GPS device. Except for the very popular, over-used trails, most other trails listed on the maps and in guidebooks are overgrown, filled with deadfall or scree, or are nearly non-existent. Some trails have been rerouted, with no updated reference on GPS. For example, on the Bowerman Trail, GPS showed we were on trail, but there was absolutely no evidence for at least a mile.
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Hikes in the Trinity Alps Wilderness category.