Friday, July 29, 2016

Naches Loop, 2016

Tipsoo Lakes

I have been on this trail three times now, first with a Mountaineers naturalist class, second with our friends R&D, and this time just Bob and I.  We parked in the same lot to hike to Sourdough Gap three weeks ago where at that time there was a substantial snow bank.  The snow was still there but had shrunk in size and there were also a few small snow patches but nothing that really covered the trail.  Six very pretty lakes can be seen from along the way, also several views of Mt. Rainier and a peek-a-boo view of Mt. Adams in the distance.

Looking back at where we were three weeks ago, Sourdough Gap from the Naches Loop

Sourdough Gap is the V point by the big rocks at the top right on the ridge line

The first time I went on the trail we were caught in the middle of a thunder storm with short episodes of drenching rain, the second time it was almost unbearably hot, this time it started out cool with nice cool breezes and by the time we got back to the car it was about 65 degrees F.  It was a very nice, sunny, pleasant day.  The two previous times I waited at the lower parking area for Bob to retrieve the car and come get me, this time I was able to climb the last steep hill back to the upper lot.  Thus after three tries I can now say that I have done the entire loop.  It is one of those popular easier hikes that have a paved road to the trail head, nice parking, restrooms, and beautiful views so we expected to encounter many other hikers.  Even though we counted 114 people it was far less crowded mid week than it must be on the weekends.  There were bugs and bug spray is definitely needed.

The first half of the loop trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail that crosses into the Rainier National Park where there are many signs stating no pets are allowed in the park.  Although we counted 4 dogs, one pooch, with a rakish red polka-dot bandana tied around his neck, turned out to be a “felon” being escorted out of the park together with his owner by a Ranger.   Bob said he thought at the very least the owner would get a ticket and probably have to pay a rather hefty fine. 

We have been on other sections of the Pacific Crest Trail and occasionally run into hikers who are going the entire distance from Mexico to Canada.  This time we met two girls in their early twenties; one had started from the Washington/Canadian border and the other from Rainy Pass.  Most through hikers we’ve met are going the opposite direction, Mexico to Canada.  It is a foot journey of 2659 miles and usually takes 3 to 4 months.  In contrast, our modest hike was about 4 miles round trip with a total gain of 700 ft that included some ups and downs. 

PTC through hikers
We had beautiful views of Mt. Rainier and plenty of flowers to enjoy. 

 The east tarn, the first small lake or pond we came upon


 Avalanche Lily

Magenta Paintbrush

 Looking down on Dewey Lake


One of my favorites, Beargrass

 West tarn with Mt. Rainier

 Butterfly posing

 Moon over Mt. Rainier

 Pink Monkey Flower

 Mock Orange

Looking back at Tipsoo Lakes from the trail

Thursday, July 28, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 257

City Hall, Toronto, Canada, ca 1920s

Like some of the other cards produced by different companies this one is titled and numbered.  The title for this card is at the lower left corner “City Hall, Toronto, Canada,” and the number is handwritten in the lower right corner  “113483 (V).”


Although this postcard was never stamped nor mailed someone has inked in the date of Aug. 6, 1931 on the reverse shown above.  The logo in the center identifies the company as
Valentine & Sons, or alternately as Valentine-Black Co., Ltd. of Toronto with the publishing information along the left side indicating that the card was printed in Great Britain.   

The Valentine Company was a lithographic printing firm established in 1825 in Dundee, Scotland by John Valentine.  By 1860 Valentine’s son, James, was reproducing photographic images as prints and stereo-views.  After James died in 1879 his two sons took over the business and began producing Christmas cards in 1880 then printing postcards beginning in 1896.  As the company expanded branch offices were opened in several other countries including Canada. 

From 1890 to 1902 most of the Valentine cards were printed in black & white collotype.  Later between 1907 and 1923 a variety of different reproduction methods were used.  This card appears to be produced using the Photo-Brown method that implemented two half-tone screens to achieve the look of toned real photos.  Valentine’s closed their Canadian branch office in 1923 therefore it is possible to date this card to the 1920s or earlier despite the inked in date on the reverse.  Postcards and greeting cards continued to be produced by the company into the 1950s.  The company was sold first to John Waddington & Co. in 1963 then in 1980 it was passed on to Hallmark Cards. 

The photograph is of the Old City Hall, as it has been called since a newer replacement building was constructed in the 1960s, was built in 1899 and designated as a National Heritage Site of Canada in 1984.  The largest civic building in North America at that time it was home to the Toronto City Council from 1899 to 1966. 

Three different types of stone were used in the construction, sandstone, grey stone and brown stone.  It took ten years to build and due to cost overruns and construction delays the angry city councilors refused to put a plaque on the building naming the architect, Edward James Lennox and the completion year of 1899.  Lennox then had the stonemasons put his name and the date in the decorative molding called corbels beneath the upper floor eaves around the entire building.  Lennox also designed an annex to the building, Manning Chambers, built in 1900 which was later demolished to make way for the current city hall.

One of the most distinctive features of the Old City Hall is the clock tower at 340 feet or 103.6 meters it was the tallest structure in Toronto from 1899 to 1917.  The clock has three bells the largest weighing 5-½ tons or 5,443 kilograms.  Originally there were carved sandstone gargoyles at the upper corners of the clock tower but they were removed due to erosion in 1938.  In 2002 bronze casts of the gargoyles were reinstalled.  The four clock faces are each 20 feet in diameter with the mechanism sitting in a glass box enclosed by the timepiece.  The manually functioning clock was automated in the 1950s.  The clock was stopped for the first time in 1992 after more than 100 years of operation for repairs and maintenance.  The room housing the clockworks is accessible only by climbing 280 stairs as the original elevator was taken out in the 1920s. 

The Old City Hall has been described as a massive square quad with a courtyard in the middle.  The originally planned large public square to be called Victoria Square never was developed instead a smaller space was allocated in front of the building.  Currently the building is being used as a courthouse with future plans perhaps including a museum for the city.  There is also a memorial to those who died in World Wars I and II as well as the Korean War and Canadian peacekeeping operations at the foot of the front stairs on Queen Street where ceremonies are held on November 11th. 

For more information, see:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 256


This C. T. American Art Colored postcard was sent from Palm Springs, California and is dated 1940.  There are two numbers in the lower margin, 237 at the left and 1671-29 on the right.  It has the Curt Teich logo on the reverse.

This evergreen plant is a Yucca, sometimes also identified as small soapweed, Spanish bayonet, Great Plains Yucca and beargrass.  The flower stalk grows to about 39 inches (100 cm) with the blossoms that hang downward a white or pale green color and long, narrow leaves.  The Yucca fruit is in the form of seeds found in capsules after the flowers have finished.  The plant is native to North America and is found from the Canadian Prairies south to Texas and New Mexico.  It has adapted to dry growing conditions.  

It is quite an interesting and attractive looking plant.  Although this is hardly a desert climate the Yucca seems to grow well in the Pacific Northwest as I have seen many in various parts of the city.  The picture on the card does not really do it justice.  Below are some of photographs of a local Yucca plant in bloom.  The flowers are large so it is not uncommon to find the heavy flower head leaning or drooping unless the stalk is staked up.


Native Americans such as the Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Lakota and other tribes have used this plant for medicinal purposes.  All parts of the plant are used in various ways
including the sharp, tough pointy leaves that can scratch exposed skin and hurt .  For example, the seedpods are boiled and used for food by the Zuni people.  The leaves have been made into brushes to use in the making or decorating of pottery and ceremonial masks.  They are also soaked and softened to aid in the making of mats, rope and other articles.  Dried leaves are split and woven to make water carrying head pads.  Peeled roots pounded make suds to use for washing hair, wool garments and blankets. 

Warren G. Harding, 1930 stamp

I found the stamp on this postcard to be interesting as I had never seen a United States stamp with a value of 1-½  cents before.  It is part of the Presidential stamp series this one featuring Warren G. Harding, who was the 29th President of the United States.  A two-cent stamp in his honor was issued in 1923 shortly after Harding died suddenly from a heart attack in 1923.  Two years later in 1925 1-½ profile stamp in a different color was issued.  In 1930 at the request of President Harding’s widow, Florence, who provided a photograph of her late husband for the design of this new 1-½  stamp, this full face version replaced the 1925 profile version. 

For more information, see:

Friday, July 15, 2016

Spray Park, Rainier National Park

 Signs showing the way

This week we returned to Mowich Lake in the Rainier National Park and took the trail that goes to Spray Park with a side trail to the viewpoint for Spray Falls.  The falls are well worth taking the side trail to see.  Including the side trail to view the falls the round trip was 6.3 miles.  

Bob climbed out on some rocks to take a photo but I took a picture from a safer spot.  A dad and two teenage kids from out of state had been crossing our path all the way up.  The dad was worried that Bob might slip on the rocks so he held onto him for safety.  It was a very kind thing to do and just goes to show how many kind, wonderful people we meet when we are out hiking.

Bob on the rocks in the rushing water taking his photo

My view of the falls from a safer spot

One of several other smaller falls along the way

The weather report suggested a cool morning followed by sun and warmth breaking through the clouds in the late morning or early afternoon.  The sun breaks never came and we walked in clouds all day, the temperature stayed between the high 40s F and mid 50s F and never got as warm as it did in the city where it was sunny and reached 75 F.

The trail heads into the clouds

Stone steps above with lilies and paintbrush on both sides, wooden stairs below

Bob had gone on this trail about ten years ago but had forgotten about the hundreds of stairs, wooden and stone, although he did remember that the last section had several switchbacks and was steep.  There are 12 switchbacks and it is very steep for the final ¼ mile or so, also there are many rough places filled with roots and loose stones.  The first portion of the trail has lots ups and downs and the side trail to the falls adds some elevation too so by the end of the day even though the map says the up is 1200 ft we really did closer to 1600 ft.  I have a lot of trouble with stairs, both going up and coming down and have to rest frequently.  From all the paths that detoured around the steps and go off to the sides I’m guessing I’m not the only one who finds a regular trail with switchbacks much easier than stairs.  

 Avalanche lilies and magenta paintbrush cover the meadows

We kept our layers on all day and remained comfortable.  There were small patches of snow but not many at 5800 ft. the real snow began about 6400 ft.   A few areas can be skied year round.  We met and were passed by two young back-country skiers who were carrying in skis and gear planning to go up to where the snow was still deep.  When we saw them again at the end of the day we found out that they hiked up to 8500 ft. before skiing down to about 6500 ft.  Their boots and skis probably added 20 pounds to the packs they were carrying.  Unbelievable, and only for the young avid skiers, I think.  

Tiny patch of snow

 More stone steps and a walkway through the bog

We had our lunch sitting on a log surrounded by lilies.  One little chipmunk darted back and forth on the rocks when we stopped for a snack in the upper meadow.  Sometimes they will come pretty close but this little guy was too shy and stayed well away from us.

Even though we saw 36 hikers they were spread over 7 hours of hiking making most of our time quiet and very peaceful.  Dogs are not allowed in the park so no doggie poop bags on the trail and no surprises of the barking, jumping kind coming around corners.  There were millions of wildflowers all along the way and showy fields of lilies, paintbrush and beargrass.  We counted 55 different flowers in bloom by the end of the day, a small sampling below.

 Magenta Paintbrush

White Paintbrush (very uncommon)

Scouler's Corydalis, uncommon but not rare (related to Bleeding Heart)

 Queen's Cup

 Just part of an army of beargrass marching down the hillside to greet us

 Shooting Stars

 White Heather

Avalanche Lilies


 Mountain Arnica

Pink Lousewort


 Mountain Daisy

Bog Orchid (left) and Yellow Monkey Flower (right)

All along the trail but especially in the lower and upper meadows we were greeted on every side with dazzling displays of wildflowers.   

One word of caution, the dirt and gravel access road to Mowich Lake is 14 1/2 miles of very rough bumps, washboard, and pot holes.  It is posted at 30 mph but we took it at 20 or less.  Four wheel drive is not necessary but patience is.