Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mowich and Eunice Lakes

Mowich Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

There are two beautiful lakes in Mount Rainier National Park that are perhaps overlooked by some who don’t want to drive 15 miles or more on a bumpy, pothole infested, washboard, dirt road [Bob requested the bold type] to get to the trail head.  The campground at Mowich Lake is right on the lakeside.  There is no running water at the campground but there is a nice newer outhouse.  Campers have to pack in their own water or treat the lake water by boiling or using chemical purifier to make it safe to use.  There are fish and ducks in the lake and canoes, rowboats, or kayaks are allowed but powerboats are not.  Also no pets are permitted on the trails or in the campground.

 This time of year there were not many flowers left but the fall colors were starting. 

Eunice Lake is a 5 mile roundtrip hike from Mowich Lake with the trail following along Mowich lakeshore for part of the way before angling up.  When the water is calm there are nice reflections from the hillsides.  It is a soft dirt trail in places and a nasty root infested trail with some rocks in other sections.  Since the trail goes up and down the total vertical gain is actually more than most hiking books state.  It is approximately 800 feet of total rise.  We started at 4950 ft and ended at 5350 ft.  Parts of the trail are very steep, the rocks and roots make it more difficult. 


Eunice Lake is a beautiful pristine secluded lake with water a teal blue color.  From the lake it is possible to hike .9 miles further to Tolmie Peak where there is a lookout at 5800 feet.  We stopped at the lake for a picnic lunch and then returned the way we came to Mowich Lake.  It was so peaceful, the sun was warm, and if we had stayed longer I think I could have easily taken a nap.

 Eunice Lake

 The view of Eunice Lake from our picnic lunch spot

 Tolmie Peak Lookout as seen from Eunice Lake

The water level in the streams and lakes is very low this year due to little or no snow last winter and very little rain this spring and summer.  Most of the area between the trail and the lake would normally be filled with lake water.

 Peek-a-boo view of Mount Rainier from the Eunice Lake trail

Wildlife sightings included a garter snake, small hawks, woodpeckers, several small birds, chipmunks, and 2 deer.  There were perhaps 10 others hikers on the trail that day, most chose to continue the rest of the way up to Tolmie Peak.   No hunting is allowed in the park so the deer are relatively tame.  A doe and fawn were browsing alongside the trail and we were able to get close enough to almost touch the fawn, which we did not do, but we did get some close up photos. 

 A shy little garter snake

 Doe and fawn unconcerned by close proximity to hikers

Parting views of Mount Rainier from the northwest as we headed home after a lovely day in the woods.  Note the tilted crater at the top of the mountain.  We do not see this view from Seattle.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 213

Camp of the Clouds, ca 1911-1915

We have taken several beautiful hikes in the Mount Rainier National Park so when I found this vintage postcard with a photograph by Lloyd Garrison or L.G. Linkletter showing the “Camp of the Clouds” at Rainier it seemed natural to include it here.  Linklettter was a well known local photographer, born in 1879 in Michigan and died 7 September 1937 in Seattle, Washington, who took his photos between 1907 and 1935.  This particular postcard was found among others dating from the 1920s and 1930s; however, tent camps like the one shown were not in use much beyond 1915 when automobiles could drive all the way up to Paradise and better facilities were being added to the park. 

In the late 1800s and early 1900s there were several camps like this one in the Paradise area.  Before the permanent National Park Service presence established in 1911, tent camping was the only overnight accommodation available to the growing number of tourists during of that era.  Mule or horse pack trains provided transportation from Longmire Springs to Paradise until around 1910.  A government road to Paradise was surveyed in 1903 and built between 1904 and 1910 with some improvements added during the years following until 1915.  By 1910 the Government Road went up as far as Narada Falls with the rest of the way to the Camp of the Clouds via horse.


Narada Falls, June 2015, approximately 3 miles below Paradise*
United States President Howard W. Taft made the first car trip to Paradise Valley in 1911 although mules had to be used to assist his car above Narada Falls.  After 1915 when the road and automobiles were sufficiently improved, day use of Paradise was possible. The new road also allowed for expanded commercial construction and facilities that still exist today.

For more information, see:

*  See also the Thursday postcard, #52 from 16 August 2012 and Summer hiking highlighs -- Mt. Rainier, 1 August 2015.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

San Juan Islands

Perhaps this should be qualified as Orcas and San Juan since not all the islands were visited only these two.  The kitchen remodel project was due for the foundation concrete pouring and we wanted to get out of the way during that process.  Also the season has definitely moved into autumn and if we wanted that last little bit of summer this was the time to grab it.  The forecast suggested clouds and rain but we were lucky and had mostly sun, blue skies and puffy white clouds. 

It is an hour and a half drive to Anacortes to catch the ferry and another hour plus on the ferry with a brief stop at Shaw Island before continuing on to Orcas Island.  When we did this two years ago we had to arrive extra early at the terminal and hope that we could get on the ferry and not have to wait for the next one.  The ferries to the islands run about 4 hours apart so it is not a trivial wait time.  This year the ferry system started a reserve ticket option, which we took advantage of and therefore knew we would get on the 10:30 am ferry for sure.  

Orcas Island Pottery 

Seven potters sell their wares at Orcas Island Pottery.  The grounds and buildings are in full display as are several small buildings on the grounds.  We climbed up into the wonderful tree house seen below to take this photo above of the main gallery building.  

The overall plans included stops at pottery and art galleries, a hike around Mountain Lake, another look at Mt. Constitution, a visit to the Whale Museum at Friday Harbor, a stop at the English Camp National Historic site near Roche Harbor with some nice meals thrown in and lots of quiet down time added in between.   

My tears over a favorite hand made bowl that slipped in the sink and broke a few days before our trip were somewhat tempered by finding two new beautiful hand made bowls and a few postcards.

Views from the Mountain Lake trail.  The trail is a 4 mile loop around the lake.  A nice trail through pretty woods, lovely views all along the way with only about 200 feet of vertical gain.

Usually when hiking we keep track of things like the plants and animals we see and the general conditions of the trails and weather.  Although we knew there were deer on the island we had not seen so many of them last time.  This time we counted a total of 14 deer, one was a tiny little spotted fawn.  The other young deer we saw had lost their spots long ago.  We saw a couple of eagles and heard more. The innkeeper explained that the fish were plentiful at the moment and the eagles were less likely to be seen since they were away feeding.  We did see a Great Blue Heron in the same bay as before and Canada geese and gulls.  There were plenty of ravens too and it was amazing to hear all the different sounds they make.  The flowers were mostly gone but there were bright white snowberries and deep orange-red rose hips here and there to catch the eye.  Many of the trees, mostly maples, had already turned color.

Views from the top of the tower at Mount Constitution 

Seen below are a couple of pictures from the English Camp on San Juan Island.  The British had a military camp here from 1860 to 1872 during the dispute over the ownership of these islands.  It was called the "Pig War" but no shots were fired.  Some of the buildings including the block house on the parade grounds and the formal garden have been preserved.  There are informational placards and old photographs at different locations to show what it was like during that period of time.

This broad leaf maple tree was already 227 years old when the English Camp was established.  Part of the tree was damaged by a lightning strike and today all the oldest trees at the camp have protective fences around them.  This might be the oldest big leaf maple tree in the state.

Roche Harbor is a charming town with a few older buildings such as the hotel and general store buildings that have been preserved as well as newer resort buildings that were built in the same general style.  Three large lime kilns are the remains from what was the largest lime and cement company west of the Mississippi River.  Lots of pleasure boats can be seen docked in the harbor.  Some people travel by small float planes such as the one seen taking off in the photo below.

The Whale Museum is at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  This smallish museum has an amazing amount of material in it.  Videos as well as displays allow the visitor to hear and see the whales.  Each visitor is given a small card with the name of one of the Orca whales from local pods.  There is a genealogical chart for the whales posted on one wall and biographical information about the more famous whales that have lived in Puget Sound.  My whale was "Granny" born in 1911 and a member of the J pod.  She is still alive and doing well.  Bob's much younger whale was "Wave Maker" from the L pod. The museum is the center for research on the Orcas of the Salish Sea. 

The islands have a little bit of lots of things including charm, they are beautiful, wild and scenic too.  The weather was perfect making a delightful few days.  As always we enjoyed the ferry rides between the islands.