Monday, September 7, 2020

Mt Rainier

 We have been planning on going to Mt Rainier National Park since 2019. I researched the area, read some blogs from people that had been there, and checked out the maps. I made reservations in February of 2020 for August 2020, then COVID happened. I wasn't sure my reservations would be honored when many things closed down. I just waited and hung on to my reservations and we were good to go! So in August 2020 we made it to Mt Rainier!


Most of this post is going to be pictures with explanations. The pictures don't do it justice-you have to see the area in person to experience the grandeur of the scenery. We picked August because the weather was supposed to be the best-we experienced no rain. Also the wildflowers were to be at their peak at that time of the year-and it was true. I don't think I've ever seen so many wildflowers blooming at once. It was as if the earth was saying "we have to bloom now, the season is short, everything bloom now!" I could fill this blog with pictures of only wildflowers but I'll spare you. These I found most interesting.
Researching the area I came across this flower, the Western Pasqueflower-nicknamed the Hippy on a Stick! I wanted to find them and they were easy to find. 

They present themselves in many different ways. These look so sedate! 

These look so wild! I've never imagined a flower having personalities but this one-I can! I was fascinated with these flowers. So taken with them that I came up with a story line....

This is what they look like when first blooming-here they are "flower children" 

They grow up to become "hippies" 

                                             And of course they live in communes!

Heather patches were everywhere 

Glacier Lilies 

Elephanthead Lousewort. These were so interesting and I can see how they got their name! 

There are so many different trails to hike we couldn't cover them in one trip. We spent 4 nights and 5 days at Cougar Rock Campground. From there it was a short drive to many things that we wanted to see in the southwest portion of Mt Rainier National Park.

The first day was a short hike since we just got there. We went to the Nisqually River, caught a nice view of Mt Rainier, then caught the Wonderland Trial to Carter Falls and Madcap Falls-a hike we could do from our campground. The rest of the hikes we had to drive to, they were short drives tho.

Mt Rainier from the Nisqually River, close to Cougar Rock Campground. The water has a milky appearance caused by fine sediments deposited by an active glacier at the river's source. 

Carter Falls 

Madcap Falls 

                                                       See I snuck in another flower picture!

We hiked the Skyline Loop Trail-a popular 5.5 mile trail, we went during midweek and started early in the morning so we missed the crowds. It was a 1700' elevation gain and gave us a beautiful view of Paradise Valley and the Tatoosh Range. If the day was clearer we would have seen Mt Rainier up close but as with many tall mountains like this they have their own weather systems and when we got to the top of the Loop, Mt Rainier was hiding behind clouds. But we did catch many views of it on the way up. And we could see Mt Adams and Mt St Helens. I was told on a very clear day you could see Mt Hood, although not on this day.

On our way up the Skyline Loop Trail 

We got to hike over snow! Trekking poles came in handy. 

Getting closer!

One of the trails leading to Panorama Point. 

View of the Tatoosh Range 

                               Panoramic view of the Tatoosh Range and Mt Rainier 

Found a snow tunnel on our way down from Panorama Point 

One day we hiked the High Lakes Trail (starting at Reflection Lake) and discovered an awesome vista point at Faraway Rock, quite unexpected as my hiking information did not mention it at all. This was a nice trail and wasn't crowded at all, we only saw 3 groups of people. Great views of the Tatoosh Range, closer than the previous day's hike! Views of Reflection Lake and Louise Lake and a surprise visit from some Grey Jays. We also hiked to a couple of water falls, Christine Falls and Narada Falls.

Found this deer on the way up to Faraway Rock 

Looking down from Faraway Rock to see Louise Lake 

This Grey Jay flew in my face to get the food I was eating. Pushy fellow. 

Another Grey Jay. 

One of the ponds next to the cliff at Faraway Rock. Just the other side of those trees is a 1000' drop. 

Christine Falls 

Narada Falls

On the drive to our final hike we had to stop at Reflection Lake again to get a picture of Mt Rainier reflected in the Lake.
Mt Rainier in Reflection Lake 

The final hike started in Paradise Valley, we went on the Deadhorse Creek Trail to the end of the Moraine Trail and had more awesome views of Mt Rainier, the Nisqually Glacier, the beginning of the Nisqually River, and the waterfalls on Mt Rainier coming off the Wilson Glacier (there are 25 glaciers on this mountain!). This trail wasn't a popular one, we only saw 2 other people that went to the end of the trail. Even tho it wasn't a popular trail it was worth it to go. On the way back we took the Alta Vista Trail, a nice trail through beautiful meadows overlooking the Paradise area. There are sooo many waterfalls to see in this area.

One of the many marmots in the area. This one kept calling, warning his friends that we were there. 

Moraine Trail 

One of the waterfalls coming off the Wilson Glacier. I also liked the "blue ice" to the right. 

The Nisqually Glacier with the beginning of the Nisqually River. 

      One of the views from the Alta Vista Trail, many waterfalls in Paradise Valley                              

It was a great trip and I'd go again to explore more of the trails in the Paradise area and explore the other areas of the National Park. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Kayaking adventures

Clear Lake 

In October of 2018 we visited Clear Lake and I wrote a blog about it. This is from that blog: 

The Forest Service says it is the headwaters of the McKenzie River. It is a lake "born of fire" because it's formed from a dam caused by a lava flow from the Sand Mountain. When the lake was formed it covered up the forest that was there and those trees are still visible. The water is so cold (31-41 degrees), with low nutrients, fed by water filtered through volcanic rock or the year round spring that is crystal clear. These factors help to preserve the trees in the water. It's not a "dead" lake. It has native cutthroat trout and it's also stocked with trout for fisherman. I noticed the fish as I hiked around it. They were very easy to spot, which means they can see me too. I'm not sure how successful I would be fishing there. The lake has a temperate forest on one side and sunbaked lava trails on the other side. 

Since then we have always wanted to go back and kayak the lake. This year we did it in June. The lake was beautiful and soooo clear. 

Mr UAW looking at the Three Sisters Mts and yes that is
the shadow of his kayak on the bottom of the lake 

One of the many ancient trees from when the lake was formed. 

This is Bear Grass, there was lots of it around the forested side of the lake 

Start of the McKenzie River from Clear Lake 

Lunchtime view 

Salmon River Estuary 

The first picture here is a picture from a hike that we took to the top of Cascade Head. You can see the beginning of the Salmon River Estuary, the secluded beach, and beyond the beach-on the other side of the green hill is Lincoln City-and if you look really hard you can see Devils Lake that is in Lincoln City. Anyway I wanted to start this part of our adventures with this picture so you can get an idea of where we were kayaking. The day we went kayaking to the secluded beach it was very windy, 30+mph winds that whipped into the estuary from the ocean. The boat ramp on the estuary is away from the ocean so it wasn't that windy getting into the water. But the journey to the beach soon became a workout. Even though we timed it so the tide was going out to aid our journey to the beach the headwind was so strong it negated any help the tide was going to give us. We persevered and made it to the river side of the beach-not a row for a beginner. We pulled up our kayaks, and were immediately sandblasted from the wind blowing on the sand. Walking to the mouth of the river and eating lunch on the wet sand was a good idea-no blowing sand there-just wind. We walked around a bit then decided to go back to the boat ramp-that was on the other side of the river. By this time it was even windier. I got in my kayak, looked back at Mr UAW to see if he was behind me and he wasn't. The wind had taken me away, quickly. So I determined to just make it to the other side and I noticed that I had no ability to steer. It was so windy that my paddling was useless. I ended up using my paddle as a rudder to steer me where I wanted to go. If I would have held up my paddle the wind would have taken it from my hands. When I had just about reached the other side, there was Mr UAW right behind me. He had the same experience too. Anyway we made it safely to the boat ramp and it wasn't as windy there so we paddled around for a bit and got out. It was one of the more scary and exciting kayak rides I have been on. So I didn't get any pictures of that part of our kayak trip, my hands were too busy on the kayak to safely get any pictures. 

Salmon River Estuary seen from Cascade Head 

Beach at the mouth of the Salmon River 

The next day it was even windier, now the winds were gusting at 37+mph. We decided to kayak in just the estuary that day, it wasn't as windy in there. It was a great day and the tide wasn't hard to paddle against. We saw Blue Herons and Bald Eagles here. We ate lunch next to a Bald Eagle as he was sitting in a tree probably looking for his next meal.

Bald Eagle

Tualatin River 

Our local river, the Tualatin River, offers many adventures, usually calmer ones. Our first trip this year was on Mother's Day-it was warm enough to kayak! And there are always ducks wanting a hand out. We never feed them, but apparently some people do because they know to beg. The river is nice to paddle in the evening when it has been a hot day, the cooling breeze comes up and the gentle movement of the water makes for a relaxing evening.

first trip out for the year 

little beggar 

evening on the river 

And sometimes we take other people on the river. This year we took visitors from CA and my grandkids on the river. There is a local kayak/canoe rental place nearby and even with the current Covid situation we were able to get everyone on the river safely.

I'm sure we will have more kayaking aventures this year and you'll hear about them.