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

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

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

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

I found a few blooms like these bright paintbrush.

The bees were quite happy.

Bog orchid and paintbrush.

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

Monkeyflower

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

Notice the bee flying away in previous shot.

Look at those details.

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

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

Reading Peak is also visible.

Lupine was the predominant bloom along the trail.

I believe this is Cobwebby paintbrush.

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

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

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

There were mass displays of mountain heather.

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

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

Other nearby jaunts: