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, 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 – Trinity Alps Wilderness, Swift Creek Trailhead . . . early spring jaunting


COVID-19 message from Shasta-Trinity National Forest. “We ask the public to please recreate responsibly. Law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High risk activities such as rock climbing, etc., or backcountry activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided. Please read our frequently asked questions on the U.S. Forest Service Coronavirus (Covid-19) webpage http://www.fs.usda.gov/about-agency/covid19-updates”


With the trailhead at 4,000 feet, it’s a gamble to find out how far you can get before finding high water creek crossings or snow fields requiring a bit more effort than reward. The majority of hikers, especially those out for a day jaunt, target Granite Lake or Foster’s Cabin.

License plates serve as snow survey trail markers. It’s hard to imagine the snow being that deep.

Spring snow melt makes the cascading waterfalls exciting and noisy.

If you choose to follow the trail to Foster’s Cabin, the first obstacle is Parker Creek. The bridge was washed away years ago and early spring means you’ll either need to ford the creek or find logs up or down stream.

I like that this trail provides access to many other trails which can be used to create loops or longer out and back hikes. With federal budget cuts, trail condition and recent maintenance reports are not easy to access. Some trails are considered “maintained” while others have been left to volunteers or to return to nature. I’d like to volunteer with the forest service to make this information more available.

Sometimes the cabin is locked, other times not.

Continuing west past the cabin means a wet feet treacherous crossing of Swift Creek.

If you’re lucky these logs upstream might still be in place making for a nice dry feet crossing of Swift Creek.

Landers Creek Trail

Getting to Landers Lake early season might prove to be a bit of a challenge. First, this sign is to the east of Landers Creek whereas maps show the trail starts to the west. Second with blow down and snow it’s nearly impossible to find clues as to where the trail might be.

The trail veers far to the east as shown by the blue line on the right. You can see the black dotted line showing possibly the original trail. The blue line on the left was me attempting to find the trail. This is the digital map on Gaia. I tried several layers and none showed the location of the current trail. My paper USFS map matches this view.

I located the trail just before this wet feet crossing of Landers Creek.

Once located, I found the trail to be well maintained and in excellent shape.

Snowmelt continued to provide delightful waterfalls.

Soon it became apparent Landers Lake would not be reached on this day. Staying on the main trail to gain additional heights and these views was a better option.

Looking down at this unnamed lake, my viewpoint into the Union Lake drainage and turnaround was at about 7,100 feet. Those ridges to the west looked worthy of some future exploration.

A little extra off-trail navigation might be necessary to avoid meadows that have become ponds.

Finding dry places to camp can be a bit of a challenge.

Parkers Creek Trail

It’s easy to miss the sign that signals this junction off the Swift Creek Trail. Fair warning: this is a steep rocky trail with some erosion issues but otherwise easy to navigate.

Wet snowy trail is a given.

This is where the trail crosses Parker Creek. With a steep slippery snow slope, it marked my turnaround.

Upstream options didn’t look any better.

Finding this tarn was a fun reward.

Deer Flat Trail

Along Parker Creek is a junction for the Deer Flat Trail.

The first obstacle is getting across Parkers Creek. This giant log upstream made for a dry feet crossing.

This is definitely an unmaintained and wild trail. Yogi likes these conditions.

This was a fun blowdown to work around. The tree was huge!

Cairns mark the route in many open meadow areas. I’m guessing Deer Flat is accessed more frequently from the Poison Canyon Trail.

Knowing weather was changing, I took advantage of this view of the 7-Up Peak ridge to find a home for the night.

There were also view of Lassen as well as Trinity Lake.

It turned out to be a good location to watch sunset.

First light invited another day of exploration.

The forecast said otherwise.

Overnight temperatures reminded me it was still more winter than summer.

I love seeing the blue ridges.

Early blooms will keep you entertained.

Adventure Dates:

  • April-June, any year, depending on winter snow levels

Resources:

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links may be included which provide me a tiny kickback to help pay for this site.

2020 – Blooming April, Spring Doesn’t Care

I recently read a poem about how spring goes on regardless of this pandemic. Since spring brings me joy, I’m choosing to spend as much time seeking out the treats mother nature provides in this all-too-short season.

2020 is proving to be a spring I’d rather forget. I like many others, most likely including yourself, are wishing we could fast forward into summer and be done with Stay Home orders. I’ve learned to let go of things I can’t control and instead focus on those things I can such as my personal happiness. The dark short days of winter can bring on bouts of depression, something I’m more likely to avoid in spring when I happily languish in the warm sunny days. Instead of travel and backpacking, I spent time running, biking and walking primarily from my house. My car didn’t leave my garage for three weeks.

I discovered and fell in love with these rock roses.

Since I’m missing my wilderness wildflowers, I really appreciate neighbors who share their blooms.

The Sacramento River runs through town bordered on both sides by about 20 miles in trails. It’s within walking distance of my house and gives me plentiful green space and a place to breathe.

The trail harbored these colorful jewels.

When I finally decided to drive 10 miles to a dirt trail, I found so much joy.

With flowers lining the trail, I didn’t even mind hiking through lands dominated by fire.

I’d never seen such a mass dispersion of pussy ears (aka Calochortus tolmiei). If this was all I’d seen I would have been happy.

But no, my treasure hunt continued. What a delightful way to spend a few hours.

I stopped at Black Bear Pass where I found this wreath, which I though was a lovely tribute to the aftermath of the 2018 Carr Fire. When I got home and was processing my photos I couldn’t believe what I saw at the base of the stump. It took some work to lighten enough to see the surprise. I still can’t believe I didn’t see it when I was taking the photo. My guess it was hauled up on horses.

I finally decided to drive a bit further for my next hike and was thrilled to find these beauties.


I closed out the month hiking among more of nature’s jewels. I hope you all made the most of this forced pause.

What will May bring? Maybe some waterfalls to go along with more wildflowers? The draft policy for opening my home county indicates a ban on non-essential travel out of the county. Will I continuing being just a tiny bit of a rebel? We topped 90F degrees so that’ll be my motivation if nothing else. Air conditioner vs wilderness?

MT – Glacier NP – Going to the Sun Road . . . where 2 are better than 4

Experiencing Glacier National Park has been tops on my list for the past few years. While I wasn’t planning an April visit, it seemed destined. When it became apparent Utah’s tourism season had arrived, I escaped to the north spending time in Wyoming visiting Flaming Gorge NRA, Wind River RangeGrand Tetons NP, and Yellowstone NP before continuing onward to Montana and eventually to Glacier NP. First stop was Lake McDonald.

Crews were working hard to open the Going-to-the-Sun Road, but with it still closed I had limited options for early season camping and hiking. Apgar is only open to tent camping and since I planned to sleep in my car, Saint Mary was my best option. It took me a couple hours to reach the northeast side of the park.

You won’t hear any complaints from me when you have near solitude and this great “dinner with a view” lakeside seat. 

This was a pretty great campsite. How about going to sleep and waking up to this scene?

While wondering around I came across this lily. According to my research, this lily is not native to Glacier and may have been planted as a joke. I took this photo with my phone and I believe it was a solo plant. Is this really a Fawn Lily aka White Beauty (Erythronium californicum)?

The next morning I hiked the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It was mostly clear of snow and obstacles. I was a little jealous of the cyclists cruising the pavement but in other ways it was nice to take my time and enjoy views along the shores of Saint Mary Lake. 

The flat light and gray skies may have reduced the drama of these spectacular mountains, but they didn’t dampen my spirits. I know I’ll be back to capture these images with a pack on my back and feet on real trail.

The 2003 Roberts Fire may have left a 135,000 acre scar; however, it opened up views once hidden by vegetation.

Are you St Mary or Virginia Falls?

Are you Gunsight Pass? Are you Jackson and Blackfoot Glaciers?

With all the snowmelt, water was plentiful. Who needs recorded music when you have nature’s soundtrack?

As much as I wanted to make it to Logan Pass, I decided it best to turn around after 7.5 miles at the Jackson Glacier Overlook. My decision was reaffirmed when I met a guy on his bike who said he was blocked by snow at Siyeh Bend, not far from my turnaround point.

The burned trees were a sad distraction.

I’m looking forward to returning another day when I can experience the beautiful colors of these mountains. 

Making my way back to the Saint Mary Lake campground. 

When I wasn’t tripping over my feet staring in awe at the big mountains, I found a few wildflowers, including Eastern Pasqueflower (Anemone patens) and Yellow Avalanche or Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum).

I just loved the pasqueflower. I’ve seen them frequently in the post-bloom stage when they look like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book, but never in this soft pastel lavender fuzzy stage. 

Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) and Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata)

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum)

Darkwoods Violet (Viola orbiculata)

? Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

Rocky Mountain Clematis (Clematis occidentalis).

A good reminder to carry bear spray and be bear aware. ‘Tis NOT the season to surprise a hungry bear, especially a mom with cubs. 

Date(s) Hiked: April 22, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #64 out of 88

Tips:

  • The hike from Mary Lake Campground to Jackson Glacier Viewpoint is about 15 miles round trip with 2,000+ feet elevation gain/loss.
  • The only campgrounds in the park open during the winter/early spring season are Apgar and St Mary
  • Come prepared with grizzly bear spray or buy at Visitor’s Center upon arrival
  • Microspikes or YakTrax are a good option for early season travel.

Resources:

Links: