Category Archives: Northwest trekking

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF RAINIER, part 3….

On August 22nd we took a day hike up the East Side Trail, starting from the Ohanapecosh campsite in Mt. Rainier National Park, and climbing past the Ohanapecosh hot springs and Silver Falls on the way to the Grove of the Patriarchs.

Here are some scenes along the trail:

Silver Falls

A bridge above the falls. Hang on and look below!

Hang on and look below!

View from the side

View from the top

The trail followed the river all the way….

We crossed over a suspension bridge and into the Grove, which is located ¼ mile past the Stevens Canyon entrance, and is an old growth forest of gigantic Douglas firs (some of which are over 1000 years old), Western hemlock, and Western red cedar, all at least 25 ft. in circumference.  You can walk through this beautiful park on a wooden boardwalk. To me it was like the mythical forest primeval. Take a look.

Not one of Jon’s favorite pastimes

On the other hand, I love to swing on bridges!

Approaching the grove

That’s one big stump!

Twin firs

I was unable to put a caption under the third picture above, but it’s a twin Douglas fir reaching up to the sky.

I’ve finally cleaned up the basement from Hurricane Irene and prepared the house for winter (all those fun things like putting on storm windows, weather stripping old windows, and stowing the lawn furniture), just in time to welcome a glorious Indian Summer. I’m also peeking at Broadway, again, with the first play of the season for me, the comedy Chinglish, about an American businessman who tries to sell his product in China. The language mix-up is a scream, but I found it exhausting to read all the subtitles.

There’s one more bit of the Northwest I want to share with you next time–the Columbia Gorge and the Lewis River…then it’s back to New Jersey and approaching Fall and winter. I’m afraid I neglected certain late spring and early summer activities, like the Mt. Laurel Autoharp Gathering (a huge success, as always), and my family time at the family cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire (a slice of heaven). But there will be other years. Stay tuned….

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THE MANY FACETS OF RAINIER, part 2….

One of the things I love about Mt. Rainier National Park is the pristine, carefully- designed campsites. I also love the Indian names that greet me at every turn. Three hours from Seattle we drove through such towns as Enumclaw and Nachez to the Ohanapecosh campsite (that takes a little doing). It was totally full, but four miles south was La Wis Wis, where we found a spacious, quiet spot with water close by and lots of tall pines, cypress, and privacy. The sky was very blue and the clouds puffy and white. A raging river tumbled over rocks not far from our site, and all around were mountains, with an eastern view of Rainier quite different from my previous visits, when I camped on its western flank

On this second morning we headed for Sunrise, another beautiful visitor’s center from which we started climbing to Mt. Fremont lookout (7200 ft.).

en route Sunrise

Sunrise Lodge

Frozen Lake, the water supply for Sunrise

Rainier in the clouds as we began our hike to the lookout….

Campsites at lakes along the way

On the top of this peak, steamboat prow, is Camp Sherman, from which you start up the summit of Rainier

Not my favorite stretch of trail!

Ditto!

This is where you’d go if you tripped….straight down. It’s much steeper than it looks

Berkeley Park, a camping spot down below

Small ponds abound, but they're pretty cold!

Views galore along the way

On top of Mt. Fremont…at last

Can you imagine surviving a winter up here?

I made it and even climbed the tower. It gives me the creeps, but the view was wonderful. I held tight with my sweaty hands!

360 degrees of incredible views

We heard a crash when passing Frozen Lake on our return. It was a mini-avalanche. Notice the waves on the lake.

Compare with first pictres and you can see he damage

On the way home we drove on the Stevens Canyon road past Reflection Lake

Home at last! Our campsite, which could surely use a housekeeper….

Jon did all the chopping

Not bad for a woodland stir fry, eh?

What a way to end a perfect day!

I’m headed for El Paso, Texas, on Sunday for dental work in Juarez, Mexico, but when I get back I’ll finish part 3 and 4.

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IT WAS NOT A “GOOD NIGHT, IRENE.” I WANNA’ GO BACK TO MT. RAINIER….

…where the sky is clear, the mountains surround and protect me, and the only sound is the wind, the birds, and the rumble of an occasional distant avalanche left over from a record winter snowfall.

Yes, I want to leave my soaking, moldy, hurricane–battered basement and settle into a yurt in Mongolia or the plains of Tibet, trading my car for an amenable camel (I don’t think they make one). And I never, again, want a basement! Desperate, you say. Kind of. But, honestly, I have very few complaints compared to friends in next-door Millburn, or in Vermont and Pennsylvania.

I was lucky to return from the Northwest the day before the hurricane struck, so that, at least, I took up the rugs. It was bad enough to paddle in water up to my shins at 6 AM, without being faced with floating carpets. Lessons learned: 1) Sump pumps and French drains, no matter how expensive, don’t work when the power is out, and 2) Never store precious files and photos and memorabilia in the basement in cardboard boxes or even metal files.

As for insurance, which I have in spades (and have never made a claim), don’t get me started! Evidently a power outage is not covered. This was considered a flood, not a heavy rain. Funny, I didn’t see any rivers rising to my door, but I did see an absence of electricity for 20 hours, during which rainwater kept rising in my basement.   I do not consider this a flood, but a failure of a vital service normally provided by our local power company. The insurance companies, however, do, so I was denied coverage. At this point my only friend is a can of Lysol and a dehumidifier. Oh, yes, and I shall spend many hours wielding a paintbrush…as soon as the walls dry out.

I’m way behind on summer news, so will start at the end and work back. I will tell my story in pictures. They are far better purveyors of the glory of summer than a string of fancy adjectives.

For five days Jon Pollack, yes, the same Jon I met trekking the Annapurna circuit in 1999, camped in Mt. Rainier National Park. I found it exciting to hike over snow at this time of year just so long as we stayed away from cliffs. As you know, I don’t like “exposure,” but I’m getting better, especially on the ascent. It’s coming down, when I can see how easily I could be hurtled into space should I trip, that gives me the Willies.

View of Rainier from trailhead with Little Tahoma peak on the left

That’s mighty deep snow for August!

Glacial lakes along the way

And lots of avalanche lilies

…and bear grass

Brilliant colors....

Blossoms like tiny bells

pristine lake and camping area off the trail

A perfect spot for lunch on the way down

A looming presence as we headed back to camp after our first day on the mountain

We spent one day doing the Snow Lake hike in the shadow of majestic Unicorn Peak near Paradise on Rainier. This was the first time I’d seen the magnificent new Henry Jackson Visitor’s Center, named after one of my favorite Washington senators, “Scoop” Jackson, who did so much to help protect the wilderness and, like John Muir before him, make sure that it would be protected for generations to come.

It was, indeed, a continuing “Paradise” of wild flowers

Indian paint brush

And, now, put them all together....

And now, put them all together…it’s not easy for such fragile flowers to live in this rugged environment

Goodbye, Paradise

This is just the beginning of the saga of the summer. Stay with me, folks, and I’ll tell you about more cool trails in Rainier and the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest and nine days starting in Walla Walla and exploring the Columbia River Gorge and the Lewis River with its numerous waterfalls….

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