Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Weekly Hike #9: Beyond Sunrise

On August 8, Mr. D and I got up early and headed to Mount Rainier National Park and our first hike together in over a month. Usually, when we go to Mount Rainier we enter the park from the southwest corner and head right up to Paradise. This time, however, we had heard that there was roadwork going on between Longmire and Paradise, and that there could be substantial delays, so instead, we entered the park at the northeast corner and headed to Sunrise.

Sunrise is, at 6,400 feet, the highest point reachable by road on the mountain. Sunrise also is a place of spectacular views:
There was a trailhead near the Visitor Center, with lots of destinations, all of them up:
We decided to hike to Frozen Lake. The trail was steep, but smooth, and we made fairly quick progress. That's Mr. D ahead of me on the trail.
We reached Frozen Lake, and discovered that they call it "frozen" for a reason. Not only was there snow still floating in the lake in August, but there was a very cold wind blowing across it. Despite having to immediately switch from short sleeves to sweatshirts, we stopped to enjoy the view.
Initially, we thought we would circle back to Sunrise via the Burroughs Mountain trail, but a large snowfield (and neither of us with our hiking poles) caused us to turn around. Instead, we walked for a half hour on the Berkeley Park trail, which provided more spectacular views.
Then, because we wanted to move on to another part of the park, we headed back to Sunrise. But before getting in the car, we enjoyed one last look:
The rest of the day's adventures didn't involve hiking, but I'll share some highlights:

We ate our lunch on the shore of the beautiful Ohanapecosh River, and then strolled through the Grove of the Patriarchs, home of magnificent old growth cedars and Douglas fir trees.
Then we drove up to Paradise, our favorite spot on the mountain. On the way there, I shot this photograph of the south face of the mountain:
This turned out to be our only glimpse of the summit, because by the time we reached Paradise, the top of the mountain was completely shrouded with clouds. We contented ourselves with a short walk along the edge of the meadows, and enjoyed the scent and sight of blooming wildflowers. Then we headed home.
We aren't through with Mount Rainier for this hiking season, however. We will be heading back for a day of hiking at Paradise in September, weather permitting, so stay tuned.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Weekly Hike #8: Lots of Falling Water (But Not Falling Hikers)

Okay, let me start off by saying that I am ashamed that this post is about a hike that happened well over a month ago. I'm even more ashamed to admit that there have been no hikes since then, although there was a lot of travel and tons of walking, just nothing that could be called a real hike. I will fill you in on some of that travel in a later post, but now I want to get this post out of the way, because another hike will be happening tomorrow.

Mr. D and I didn't have a whole day for a hike, so he suggested that we hike to Bridal Veil Falls, which is an off-shoot of the Lake Serene Trail. He also said that it should be a fairly gentle hike—famous last words!
At first, he was exactly right, the trail was level and smooth
But then we took the off-shoot to the falls, and the trail changed drastically...
The scenery along the trail was worth it, however. Here an old growth stump serves as a nurse tree for two of its grandchildren.
After a half hour of very, very careful hiking, we finally reached the falls. It was pretty spectacular, but I'm still not sure it was worth negotiating all those rocks.
The views out across the valley were spectacular, too
Once we got back to the main trail, we walked a little further and stopped for a snack by this  small waterfall, which I liked even better than the roaring falls above it. And I didn't have to climb over a single rock to enjoy this one!