From Summer to Winter in 6000 easy steps

Looking up towards Sourdough Ridge, at Sunrise, Mt. Rainier National Park.
Looking up towards Sourdough Ridge, at Sunrise, Mt. Rainier National Park.

So. A week and a half ago, we were having temperatures in the 80s here in the Puget Sound lowlands. We’ve had a summer for the record books — the most 90 degree days in one year, the most 80 degree days in one year, the hottest June, July, and August on record… The weather forecasters were beginning to sound like a broken record (and far too chipper for their own good, given the circumstances).

Then, a week ago today, the switch flipped. The temperatures dropped to the 60s, the wind picked up, and — you guessed it — we had the biggest August windstorm on record. All of a sudden it was October (the main harbinger of autumn here is wind — google Inauguration Day storm, Columbus Day storm, and Hanukkah Eve storm if you don’t believe me).

I’ve already got a second quilt on the bed, too, because the nighttime temps have started dropping to the 40s.

And then, to celebrate completing my new novel Reunion (the second Tale of the Unearthly Northwest), my friend L and I drove up to Sunrise today, on the eastern side of Mt. Rainier, and were greeted with this beautiful sight:

Low 40s, with snow-covered picnic tables.  Suffice to say, we ate our lunch in the car.
Low 40s, with snow-covered picnic tables. Suffice to say, we ate our lunch in the car.
The trail was a bit icy and slushy, but the walk was wonderful.  The air smells absolutely amazing up there.
The trail was a bit icy and slushy, but the walk was wonderful. The air smells absolutely amazing up there.
Not all was black and white and gray.  Mountain ash foliage in full autumn color.
Not all was black and white and gray. Mountain ash foliage in full autumn color.
Looks like some kids were having a good time!
Looks like some kids were having a good time!
There really is a mountain up there.  Looks like the bottom of the cloud deck was at about 12000 feet.
There really is a mountain up there. Looks like the bottom of the cloud deck was at about 12000 feet.

Oh, and the 6000 steps? Sunrise is at 6300 feet. We hit snow at about 6200 feet (Sunrise Point, about a mile from Sunrise proper, is at 6100 feet, and there was no snow there).

What a day. And I have the wet shoes to prove it!