I was sick Sunday and yesterday, alas, but on Saturday my friend Judy drove me to Westport, where we ate fish and chips and we went to the Maritime museum where I got to see their magnificent first order Fresnel lens before I went back to her van and took a nap, while she toured the rest of the museum (I’d been there several times before and I was pretty tired after the 2-hour drive), then went out to the promenade where I actually walked all the way to the first bench, which has a wonderful view of the ocean.
Then I slept most of the way back, but that’s okay.
Here’s the usual photographic proof! I have a video I want to post as part of this as soon as I figure out how to crop video, too.
And the next morning, Judy and I started the process that will end with her taking over the distribution of my books and the upkeep of my website when I’m gone. So my legacy will live on without me. This makes me so happy.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to make my annual wildflower reconnaissance up to Sunrise on Mt. Rainier. It was a beautiful day, if a bit too hot in the lowlands, the best kind of weather for escaping to the Mountain.
So I got up early, and packed a lunch, and made the two-hour drive — only to discover that the story we’d been seeing on the news about a 64-year-old man who’d gotten lost on the Wonderland Trail would have a direct effect on my day, as well as the day of a lot of other people hoping to visit the park. Not nearly the effect it was having on that poor hiker’s day, thank goodness, but the search and rescue effort had closed the parking lot at Sunrise so that the helicopters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord could use it as a landing pad.
So, now what to do?
I hadn’t driven all the way around Mt. Rainier in at least a dozen years, and to the best of my knowledge I’d never done it in a clockwise direction. I’d also been intending to go to Tipsoo Lake, just inside the eastern border of the park almost to Chinook Pass, for a long, long time. I was already headed in that direction, and had a good jump start, so, I thought, looking at my full gas gauge, why not?
Tipsoo Lake isn’t more than about ten miles to the southeast of the turnoff for Sunrise, on the road that leads to Yakima. It’s a beautiful alpine lake which, in still and sunny weather, reflects the Mountain in its water. Today wasn’t still, but the view was still pretty spectacular, as were the early wildflowers. I was surprised to still see snow on the ground, too, which made me wonder if I was really missing anything by not going to Sunrise — I’m not all that fond of hiking in the snow.
After an enjoyable hour on the footpath encircling the lake, I headed south — and downhill a few thousand feet — to Ohanapecosh, at the southeast corner of the park. Ohanapecosh is back down in the deep, lush forests that surround Mt. Rainier, and a trail winding through them is appropriately named the Grove of the Patriarchs. The grove itself is on an island in the middle of the river, reached by crossing a sturdy but fragile-feeling suspension bridge, which gave me the weird sensation of still feeling like I was on it even after I was back on dry land.
From Ohanapecosh I drove up Stevens Canyon, which is a spectacular drive clinging to the sides of cliffs and passing through avalanche chutes.
The Stevens Canyon road leads up to Paradise where I had planned to walk the Nisqually Vista Trail before heading home. However, when I got there, I discovered that Paradise was still snow-covered, in the middle of July! Normally the snow is almost gone by then, but we had a very late winter this past year, and a very heavy snowpack, and it was still snowing up there in May.
So, as I said, not being a fan of hiking in the snow (and the main reason I’d wanted to hike the trail being wildflowers), I decided to head on home.
Not exactly the day I’d planned, but I’m still glad I did it. It’s fun to explore different parts of familiar places, and Mt. Rainier is just about as familiar to me as my own back yard.
I’m just really sorry they never found that poor hiker.
Can be quite the process on Mt. Rainier this time of year [g]. I spent the day up at Paradise (including a short jaunt down to Stevens Canyon) today, and counted 28 wildflower species that I could identify, and at least one that wasn’t in my book. Not bad when you consider that there were still two and three-foot snowdrifts around and about at Paradise. Instead of showing you the usual tourist pictures of the mountain for this trip, I thought I’d pull a Katrina (a birder friend who posts lists with accompanying photos) and show you some of what I saw.
I love summer, and mountain wildflowers are a big part of the reason why.
Oh, and here’s the list of everything I saw today that I could identify:
Avalanche lilies (white)
Glacier lilies (yellow)
Columbia red columbines
Jeffrey’s shooting stars
Two kinds of penstemon, Davidson’s and one not in my book
Two kinds of paintbrush (magenta and scarlet)
Columbia tiger lily
Oh, and one more thing, or, rather, two. I saw a dipper at Myrtle Falls (at least I think it was a dipper — it was too far away for a formal ID, but it was acting very much like a dipper, which is pretty distinctive, at least I’ve never seen any other kind of bird that dives into pools just above waterfalls). And a pika skittered across the trail in front of me on my way back from Myrtle Falls. He was too fast to get a photo. But you can hear the pikas everywhere up there this time of year. They sound very odd.
That’s it. I think [g]. It was a gorgeous day in Paradise, what can I say?