Tag Archives: day trips

to the coast

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.

A first order (the largest size) Fresnel lens, which is the most beautiful utilitarian object in the world. I have video of it rotating, throwing off rainbows, that I will post as soon as I can.
A woolly bear caterpillar on the sidewalk.
This little dude was singing his heart out along the promenade.
A view from the boardwalk.
A view from the first bench on the promenade (coming from the Gray’s Harbor lighthouse end of the path).

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.

 

Around Mt. Rainier on a sunny summer day

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.

Mt. Rainier from Tipsoo Lake.
Mt. Rainier from Tipsoo Lake.
Snow on the shores of Tipsoo Lake.
Snow on the shores of Tipsoo Lake.
A pasqueflower at Tipsoo Lake.
A pasqueflower at Tipsoo Lake.
A whole field of avalanche lilies and false hellebore at Tipsoo Lake.
A whole field of avalanche lilies and false hellebore at Tipsoo Lake.
And a close-up of an avalanche lily or two.
And a close-up of an avalanche lily or two.

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.

The Grove of the Patriarchs trail.
The Grove of the Patriarchs trail.
Across the Ohanapecosh River suspension bridge on the Grove of the Patriarchs trail.
Across the Ohanapecosh River suspension bridge on the Grove of the Patriarchs trail.
Sun glowing through vine maple leaves.
Sun glowing through vine maple leaves.
This gentleman was posing for his companion, but I thought he made a good marker for the scale of these trees.
This gentleman was posing for his companion, but I thought he made a good marker for the scale of these trees.
A gorgeous old stump.
A gorgeous old stump.

From Ohanapecosh I drove up Stevens Canyon, which is a spectacular drive clinging to the sides of cliffs and passing through avalanche chutes.

Mt. Rainier from the lower end of Stevens Canyon.
Mt. Rainier from the lower end of Stevens Canyon.
Looking back east down Stevens Canyon.
Looking back east down Stevens Canyon.

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.

counting wildflower species

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.

Avalanche lilies -- if you time it just right, you can see literally fields of these at Paradise.  I did time it right this year.
Avalanche lilies — if you time it just right, you can see literally fields of these at Paradise. I did time it right this year.
One of the few I haven't been able to ID yet.  This was a woodland flower near where I stopped to photograph the Columbia tiger lily, between the Nisqually entrance and Longmire.
One of the few I haven’t been able to ID yet. This was a woodland flower near where I stopped to photograph the Columbia tiger lily, between the Nisqually entrance and Longmire.
I must have passed three or four clumps of these Columbia tiger lilies before I found one in a place safe to photograph without running the risk of getting hit by a car.  Thse were growing down near Longmire.
I must have passed three or four clumps of these Columbia tiger lilies before I found one in a place safe to photograph without running the risk of getting hit by a car. These were growing down near Longmire.
One of the two kinds of penstemons -- these are Davidson's penstemons, and I found them on the Stevens Canyon road.
One of the two kinds of penstemons — these are Davidson’s penstemons, and I found them on the Stevens Canyon road.
Rosy spirea.  This is all over the place at Paradise, and was just starting to bloom.
Rosy spirea. This is all over the place at Paradise, and was just starting to bloom.
Alpine phlox, my favorite wildflower, growing out of a crack in the rocks on the Paradise loop road.
Alpine phlox, my favorite wildflower, growing out of a crack in the rocks on the Paradise loop road.
Spring beauties on the trail to Myrtle Falls at Paradise.  They were growing some distance away on the hillside, but I did my best.
Spring beauties on the trail to Myrtle Falls at Paradise. They were growing some distance away on the hillside, but I did my best.
Jeffrey's shooting stars along the Stevens Canyon road at the Snow Lake trailhead.
Jeffrey’s shooting stars along the Stevens Canyon road at the Snow Lake trailhead.
Beargrass! on the Stevens Canyon Road.  I think this is the first time I've ever seen beargrass at Mt. Rainier.  I normally associate it with Glacier National Park.
Beargrass! on the Stevens Canyon Road. I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen beargrass at Mt. Rainier. I normally associate it with Glacier National Park.
Red heather along the steps down to the Myrtle Falls overlook.
Red heather along the steps down to the Myrtle Falls overlook.
A patch of glacier lilies (glacier lilies are yellow, avalanche liles are white, otherwise they're basically identical -- repeat until memorized [wry g].
A patch of glacier lilies (glacier lilies are yellow, avalanche liles are white, otherwise they’re basically identical — repeat until memorized [wry g].
Potentilla along the trail at Paradise.
Potentilla along the trail at Paradise.
Part of a huge patch of mertensia along the road almost to Paradise.
Part of a huge patch of mertensia along the road almost to Paradise.

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:

Goatsbeard

Mertensia

Potentilla

Avalanche lilies (white)

Glacier lilies (yellow)

Violets

Pasqueflowers

Spring beauties

Red heather

Mountain ash

Alpine phlox

Sitka valerian

Mountain bistort

Columbia red columbines

Beargrass

Serviceberry

Pink spirea

Jeffrey’s shooting stars

Two kinds of penstemon, Davidson’s and one not in my book

Lupine

Two kinds of paintbrush (magenta and scarlet)

Clover

Veronica

Columbia tiger lily

Cow parsnips

Ocean spray

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?