Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer hiking highlights -- Mt. Rainier

We are having a hot, dry summer this year that makes it harder for me to do some of the more strenuous hikes as the heat slows me down considerably but we have done several hikes since the last hiking blog post.  As seniors we are fortunate to be able to take advantage of the Golden Age Pass that allows us to use National Parks, National Forests, and Bureau of Land Management areas for a one time nominal fee.  The other pass we use for State Parks is a Discover Pass that has to be renewed each year.  Here are a few highlights and photos from four hikes we enjoyed in the Mt. Rainier National Park.

 Glacier Basin, Mt. Rainier National Park

Hike 1:  Glacier Basin in the Mt. Rainier National Park was one destination.  This is a moderate hike of a little more than 6 miles round trip with a 1650 foot vertical gain.  We probably saw more climbers on the way up to a base camp than day hikers.  The basin and small tarn are beautiful and scenic.  However, notice the lack of snow.  Most years this might have been still snowed in the middle of June instead of green.  Glacier Lilies, Mertensia, Monkey Flower, Shooting Stars, Phlox, Showy Jacob's Ladder, and Bear Grass were among the flowers we saw in bloom.

 Bear Grass

 Shooting Stars

 Glacier Lily

 Showy Jacob's Ladder

Wooly Sunflower and butterfly


Paradise, Mt. Rainier

Hike 2:  Paradise, Mazama Ridge and Myrtle Falls had fields of Lupine in bloom, marmots sunning on the rocks and whistling in the flowers.  This was about a 4 mile round trip with a 700 foot elevation gain.  It was very hot and I needed lots of rest stops on the way up.  As the photo just above shows there were a number of climbers who were practicing for the climb all the way up the mountain. 

 A Hoary Marmot sunning on a rock

Myrtle Falls

We hiked up the Skyline Trail just as far as the Van Tump monument to the first climbers to reach the summit of Mt. Rainier in 1870, Hazard Stevens and P.B. Van Trump.  

Van Trump monument

 Views from the trail

 Indian Paintbrush

Avalanche Lilies

We also stopped at Narada and Christine Falls on the way home.

 Narada Falls

Christine Falls

Hike 3:  This was the second time for me to do the Naches Loop trail.  It is also a 4 mile round trip with a 700 foot gain.  We started early but it was still too hot at 80ºF.  We hiked with good friends and had a great day together enjoying this beautiful place that was almost completely filled with flowers and their sweet scents.  We topped the hot day off by stopping at Wapiti Woolies for ice cream cones.

 On the Naches Loop trail

 Below, view of Dewey Lake from the Naches Loop trail



Tiger Lily


 Magenta Indian Paintbrush and Lupine

 Mountain tarn and flower filled meadow

Hike 4:  The Summerland trail actually goes much further but we just stayed on the lower section, went 5 miles round trip with a 900 foot gain.   We got rained on (a welcome coolness) but that meant not too many good photographs.

 At the start of the trail


 Bog orchid


 Wild Blueberries

There were lots of very tasty blueberries and we ate lots of them!

 Bumble bee on a thistle flower

 River and small falls

Misty view through the rain
These are just a tiny sampling of the many trails in Mt. Rainier National Park.  This year the flowers were spectacular and we look forward to going back next year or sooner.

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