Friday, July 26, 2013

Paradise, Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier from Reflection Lake

 Last week we went to the Sunrise side of Mt. Rainier National Park, the weather did stay nice so this week we went to the Paradise side.  The picture above was taken at Reflection Lake.  There were small fish in the lake that we later identified as Brook Trout.    There were almost no clouds in the sky and it was bright sunshine.  The temperature got to 86℉ and was really too hot for strenuous hiking. 

First we stopped at waterfalls along the way.

Christine Falls

Narada Falls

If one is lucky and happens upon Narada Falls (see the Thursday postcard, #52 from 16 August 2012) like we did this day, at the right time with the right amount of sunlight the water acts like a prism and forms a rainbow. 

Sunshine Creek Falls

Lower Myrtle Falls
There was still snow at this waterfall.  The stream flowed under the snow and ice and reappeared some distance below.

Unnamed falls by small bridge

We stopped at a little bridge and walked down a bit to see these beautiful falls.  There was a series of falls above and below this point and a trail that led down but we just stopped to enjoy this one.  A small snow bank offered a chance to do a balancing act.

Our main hike of the day was supposed to be to Bench Lake and Snow Lake for a total of about 2.5 to 3 miles round trip.  We did make it to Bench Lake but the combination of heat, up and down steps, and thousands of pesky bugs proved to be too much to go the entire distance to Snow Lake.  I think I had a sign pinned to me that said “Dinner” just for bugs.  One other lady hiker who passed us said she thought her sign said “Blood Bank.”  Bob and I were each using a natural bug repellent and not Deet (a poison).  Mine was a liquid roll-on his was a lotion.  His seemed to work a bit better than mine so I will try it next time. 

Bench Lake
This trail has a sandy surface and is fairly easy to walk on but there are lots of the stairs and I find them difficult and tiring.  They look nice and give the illusion of being helpful to the hiker but in reality they are very hard on the knees and upper legs.  Trekking poles are necessary especially on the down stairs. 

We saw lots and lots of wildflowers, some we had not seen before, and a variety of wildlife.  The bear we saw was too far away for a picture but clearly recognizable as bear.  We also saw deer, elk, a Douglas squirrel—red not gray, birds, fish and a marmot. 

Avalanche lilies, 1

Avalanche lilies, 2
We were excited to see a couple of Avalanche lilies then happened upon an entire hillside covered in hundred of them.   They are another of the flowers that appear shortly after the snow melts.

Tiger lily
Pink Monkey flower

Cow Parsnip, 1

Cow Parsnip, 2

Broadleaf Montia, buds

Broadleaf Montia, open flower 

Shooting stars
Hummingbird and Fireweed
Just as I was taking a photo of the Fireweed a hummingbird zoomed in for a taste of nectar and the result was this photo.  

Rosy Spirea

Daisy – Heartleaf Arnica

Bog Orchid

Pearly Everlasting


Dinner at the Longmire lodge completed the day, or so I thought.  As we drove away the setting sun caught the mountain and it turned pink.  Looking back at Mt. Rainier from Elbe, Washngton most of the pink had faded but this was the first good stopping place after leaving the park.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 101

 The Lions from Mt. Crown, Vancouver, B.C, early 1900s


Since I have been putting up so many blog posts about hiking I thought this postcard of The Lions in British Columbia, Canada might be appropriate for this week’s Thursday card.

The card features a photograph with a white border and has a divided back with the stamp amount given as one cent.  This dates the postcard to between about 1910 and 1930.   No photographer or card publisher is noted on the card.  It is an unused card so there is no cancellation mark with a date and no message to give any additional clues.  The two young men in the picture do not look like they are typical hikers or climbers since they are wearing rather nice street clothes and do not have backpacks or other gear except for the binoculars being used by one. 

The Lions are the two peaks seen at the upper right side of the card.  Located along the North Shore Mountains near Vancouver, B.C., Canada they are referred to as East Lion, 5,269 ft or 1,606 m and West Lion, 5,400 ft or 1,646 m and can be seen from Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and the Howe Sound Islands.  The Lions Gate Bridge was named in their honor.  The peaks have become one of the most recognizable Vancouver landmarks. 

The Lions are a popular hiking destination, however, most hikers begin at Lions Bay and stop at the ridge which takes about four hours and gains 4,199 ft or 1,280 m.  Going beyond the ridge requires rock climbing equipment and climbing experience.  No hiking or climbing is allowed on East Lion because it is in the Greater Vancouver watershed. 

The first ascent of West Lion happened in 1889 when a group of hunters who were following a herd of goats found they had reached the top of the mountain and had no where to go but down.  East Lion was not scaled until 1903 when three brothers set out to do it.  They had virtually no climbing experience, did not know how to use the rope they took only because they heard that climbers used ropes.  They pulled themselves up the mountain by grabbing hold of small shrubs and bushes.  These same brothers also climbed West Lion.

Originally the native people called these peaks The Sisters and there is a story about them and how they got that name.  The peaks were renamed The Lions around the year 1890 by a Canadian judge, John Hamilton Gray. 

For additional information about the Lions, the naming of the peaks and a more detailed account of the ascents see:

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Bride of Satan travels

Bob and I both have houses; they are about 8 miles apart from each other.  Once we got married we started playing musical houses, i.e., a few days at his place then a few days at my place.  Sounds simple, right?  Wrong.  As many of you know I have a beautiful longhaired black cat nicknamed The Bride of Satan.  When we stay at Bob’s house it means getting up earlier than usual and traveling the distance between the houses to feed the cat.  I don’t think she minds much being alone but food is an essential part of her life and perhaps she would even eat all day if allowed to do so.  The obvious solution was to take her with us as we go back and forth.

The week prior to this trial run we purchased a second litter box and scoop, another case of her food, some new dishes, and made sure we had a good supply of her old towels so she would have some familiar scents in the new place.  Long ago I discovered that she really didn’t like riding in the car since the only place she ever went was the vet.  Her aversion to travel was understandable.  At D’s suggestion I started feeding her in the carrying crate and she did seem to think of it mostly in pleasant terms.   The door to the crate needs to be held open by two small bungee cords.  Once those were removed the door swung ominously instead of being firmly in the open position.  The afternoon meal appeared in the crate as usual but the door was swinging, squeaking a bit and spooking her.  A quick shove by me, and presto she was inside, the door locked shut behind her.  She is not dumb and the realization that all was not as it should be was more or less instantaneous.  A surprised and unhappy protestation howl and frantic shuffling inside the crate ensued.

The crate now had an actively moving cat inside on the way down the stairs to the car.  The decibel level of protests increased.  The mild startled complaints took on a sorrowful moan then an angry yowl.  I only wish I could have recorded all the sounds.  We were much too busy to take any photos from that point onward.

Once at Bob’s house the crate was opened and she shot out only to slink back in confusion at the new unfamiliar surroundings.  Apparently these were not to her liking in the least.  After two forays into the strange kitchen she retreated back to the laundry/pantry area where we had set up the litter box and feeding station.  Hiding behind the crate next to the water heater she began really howling, yowling, spitting, and growling.  Thank goodness she no longer has any front claws.  We patiently waited thinking she would start to explore and all would be well.  It did not happen.  After about 3 hours it was time to transit back to my house. 

A matador dance with swinging towels instead of capes, a terrified feline, more unbelievable noises—caterwalling?—some really heavy garden gloves got punctured and left Bob with a couple of bloody fingers.  Heavier leather ski gloves were next.  A towel quickly dropped over cat, she was bodily thrust into the crate with frantic fumbling to secure the latch.  Bob is brave but his level of dexterity was hampered by the thick gloves and now bandaged fingers.  I wasn’t about to get anywhere near the cat or the crate.  Now the crate had an extremely angry and frightened cat inside.  Back to the car, drive the 8 miles, haul the crate up the stairs into the house.  No food since morning.  Very angry, hungry cat no longer terrified but terrifying in her rage and indignity.  Screamed, hissed, yowled, and growled at us every time she saw us.  Tried to prevent us from entering or exiting rooms in the house.  This is the next day.  I finally got her to eat something (no food since the previous morning prior to the unsatisfactory adventure).  She is still very angry and disgruntled.  Low muttering growls can be heard every so often.  I am currently ignoring her and pretending all is well.  Perhaps by tomorrow evening she will be willing to tolerate us.  I don’t think forgiveness is on the menu.

The Bride of Satan has canceled all future travel plans for the time being.

The unsuccessful journey comes to an end.  The bungee cord is securing the locked crate door.  We are not taking any chances.

Note the heavy gloves . . .

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sunrise, Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier with clouds

Mt. Rainier without clouds

People who live in the shadow of the mountain know that it is elusive and not often seen due to clouds and rain.  When we arrived and started our hike at the Sunrise side of Mt. Rainier National Park it was cloudy and the top of the mountain was obscured.  As the day wore on the clouds dissipated and by the time we started home the mountain was out in all its glory as shown in the photo directly above.

Frozen Lake

Our goals for hiking this day were to first get to Frozen Lake about 1.5 miles, have our lunch and then continue up to the lookout station on Mount Fremont an additional 1.3 miles for a total round trip of 5.6 miles.  The elevation went from 6100 ft at the parking lot to 7200 ft at the lookout.  A number of things prevented me from completing the entire route.  First, I think starting out at 6100 ft when I am used to living at sea level was a contributing factor, the steepness of the trail in places didn’t help either.  I have been trying to overcome a fear of heights but once vertigo set in when the trees thinned out, the narrow trail and drop off made it impossible for me to look anywhere except straight ahead (discouraging as the trail kept climbing up) or at the cliff wall side where the flowers were growing and my camera kept coming up for more and more photos. 

Beautiful views from the trail

These meadows are filled with flowers that cannot be seen at this distance.  Phantom Lake is visible in the photo at the center back.  It was taking us an hour to hike one mile (very slow) and with 1/3 mile and about 100 feet of elevation left to go at 4 pm and then an approximately 4 hour return hike it would have been 8 pm before we got back to the car; a little too late and me way too tired.  We decided to turn around and go back instead of continuing.  It was disappointing especially because we could see the lookout but it was the right decision.  It is easy to make mistakes and have accidents when fatigue sets in and that would have been worse than not making the summit.  We can try again another day.

Mount Fremont lookout 

We saw mountain goats. There are nine goats shown but the entire group totaled a dozen including at least two babies.

There were lots of chipmunks.  One taking a dust bath posed long enough to get a good close up.

A pica perched on a rock scurried quickly away but not before his picture was captured.  They live in or near the rocks and I have heard these little animals whistling but never seen one before.

This is the time of year when the alpine flowers start to really bloom and fill the meadows.  It was difficult to walk even a few feet without seeing something that was begging to have a picture taken.  Below are just a few of the many flowers we saw.

Pasqueflower comes up right after the snow melts and is only seen if one happens to be at the right place at the right time.  We saw several clumps of these flowers blooming and also in its seedhead stage.

Pasqueflower seedhead also sometimes called a mop head or old man on a stick.

Beautiful, delicate, tiny glacier lilies were blooming in a very few places beside the trail.

Fanleaf Cinquefoil or native buttercup was everywhere

Spreading Phlox—this one is lavender colored but we saw the color range from white to pink and blue.

Magenta Paintbrush

Orange Indian Paintbrush and Lupine came in dwarf or miniature varieties as well.

The leaves of the dwarf Lupine are edged with white and are as pretty as the flowers.

Penstemon came in different colors also--purple above, pink below.

This one is called Pussytoes.

Jacob’s ladder

Western Smelowskia--It grows at high elevations and blooms between May and August.

Western Wallflower

Sitka Valerian



Beargrass and Indian Paintbrush

If the weather holds we plan to return to the park next week to the Paradise or Longmire area and look for more wildflowers.