Friday, July 26, 2019

Three short hikes, Mt. Rainier National Park, Paradise, 2019

The Jackson Visitor Center, opened in 2008

This past week we got up early and drove to Paradise at Mt. Rainier National Park with the goal in mind to do three short hikes, Nisqually Vista, Myrtle Falls and Reflection Lake.  This would be a total of approximately 3 or 3 ½ miles with about 300 or 400 ft elevation gain.  Parking at the visitor center and lodge area is restricted to 2 hours with a special lot reserved for overnight guests staying at the Lodge.  A second lot is walking distance away and is reserved for all day or longer than 2 hours. 

The Jackson Visitor Center has exhibits, rangers, a restaurant/lunchroom, and picnic tables.  The Lodge dates from the 1930s and has rooms for overnight guests, a large lobby, a large dinning room, an additional small eating area, easy chairs, tables and fireplaces plus outdoor tables and chairs.  Both buildings have gift shops and restrooms. 

 Interior views of old lodge

The interior of the old lodge, built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) using unskilled laborers and unemployed skilled workers, has magnificent pole beams, two stone fireplaces, and chairs and tables, lampshades and décor in general from the 1930s.  This lodge is one of a group built by the CCC during the Great Depression.

1.  Nisqually Vista

Nisqually Vista was our first destination.  Even though it was a weekday there were lots of people but not many were opting for the short hikes so we encountered few if any people in certain sections.  The paths are wide and paved or hard dirt, free of stumbling obstructions and have the edges decorated with thousands of wildflowers.  One of the off shoots was called the Avalanche Lily trail.  We probably missed the peak bloom but there were still thousands upon thousands of lilies covering the hillsides and meadows.

Avalanche lilies

Closer view of Avalanche lilies

Of the three lilies that we see in this park these are white, the Glacier lilies are yellow, and the Tiger lilies are orange with dark spots.  On this trail we saw both Avalanche and Tiger lilies.

 Tiger Lilies

This Tiger lily had more spots than usual

There were hundreds of Indian Paintbrush flowers ranging in color from bright magenta, to red-orange, to pale orange and light pink.  Sometimes we also see yellow or white paintbrush.

Magenta Paintbrush

Red-orange Paintbrush mixed with Spirea, Valerian and a little Lupine


 Around the bend, munching on leaves, was this hoary marmot that was not the least nervous and continued to eat as we approached closer and closer. 

Marmot, munching breakfast salad

 On the return we saw another marmot in the same general area.

The roped off area next to the trail to Nisqually Vista is to protect and encourage vegetation regrowth.

From one of the view points, the Vista--Nisqually glacier, river and moraine  

The trail makes a keyhole loop and has several viewing areas of the Nisqually glacier before winding back to the lodge and parking areas.

On the return we had a nice view of the Tatoosh range as we neared the visitor center and parking area.

2.  Myrtle Falls

Myrtle Falls

 We have been to Myrtle Falls several times and usually go part way up the Skyline Trail or the Golden Gate trail but this time we just went to the falls and back.   There are stairs down to a viewing point and well worth the effort to get a look at the falls.  Often marmots can be found near the falls but not this time. 

Besides the people, guests at the falls included a chipmunk ,

a deer

and this Gray Jay sitting in the tree.

3.  Reflection Lake

Reflection Lake

To get to Reflection Lake it was necessary to go back to the parking area and drive a short distance.  This day there were clouds around Mount Rainier so we didn’t get the beautiful reflection in the lake as hoped.  There is a trail around the lake and side paths that lead down to several small beaches.  

We walked part way around and saw another deer.

Also a Stellar’s Jay

View from the end of the lake

A big surprise was an entire meadow filled with Elephant’s head lousewort

A few of the other flowers we saw . . .

Rosy Spirea

Sitka Valerian

Pink Mountain Heather



Sickletop lousewort

Rosy Pussytoes

Mountain Azalea

Shooting Stars

We do not count people or dogs at Mt. Rainier National Park because there are hundreds of visitors.  No dogs are allowed on the trails; however, we did see people walking their dogs in the parking area.

Count for the day:  4 deer, 2 marmots, several chipmunks and ground squirrels, fish jumping in the lake, and numerous  birds and bird song.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 409

Boxes of canned salmon

Both of the postcards shared this week are from Lantern Press Vintage Photographs.  The card above has the identification number of #1527 and has a vintage photograph of salmon boxes being loaded for shipment.  The card below is numbered #4136 and has a picture of some of the seiner fleet fishing boats that were used to catch the salmon.  Both postcards were purchased in Ketchikan and are scenes from that area.

Seiner Fleet Fishing Boats, Ketchikan, Alaska

The Alaska Packers' Association (APA) was the largest packer of canned salmon in Alaska.  It was based in San Francisco, founded in 1891 and sold in 1982.  In 1891 the Alaskan salmon industry was just beginning but already producing more canned salmon than they could sell.  The association was founded to organize and sell the surplus canned salmon and manage the salmon production more efficiently.  There were 31 canneries across Alaska in 1892.  The original APA is perhaps best remembered for operating one of the last fleets of tall sailing ships.  Part of the reason for using the sailing ships instead of steam was to economize.  The ships were part of The Star Fleet with each ship having Star in its name, such as Star of Bengal, Star of France, Star of Russia, Star of Alaska, etc.  By 1930 most of the sailing ships had been replaced by steam or diesel powered ships like the ones shown on the second card.

Canned salmon was the largest industry in Alaska from about 1900 through 1980 with some fluctuation due to the number of fish each year.  During that time canned salmon produced over 80% of Alaska's tax revenues.  

Many of our ancestors in the extended family worked in some capacity in or for the canneries of Alaska during the early 1900s up through the 1930s.  My Dad worked on fish traps and was hired to fend off salmon poachers.  This was at times a very dangerous job as the poachers were almost always armed and serious about stealing the fish.  He had some harrowing stories to tell about his time on the traps.  Walt Lorig, his dad Edd, and several others in the family worked in the canneries or on the fishing boats. 

Today the Seattle based trade organization "At-Sea Processors Association" uses the APA moniker.  The newer APA represents 7 companies and operates 19 vessels in the Alaska pollock and West Coast whiting fisheries.  The current APA has no connection to the earlier Alaska Packers’ Association even though it uses the same identifying initials.

For more information, see:’_Association

Thursday, July 18, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 408

Wrangell Narrows, Alaska, 1926

The card above has the name Thwaites and the number 2160 at the lower left corner.  It was sent by a friend to I.C. Lee and dated 1926.  It was probably a black and white print that has faded to a sepia color. 

While our ship did not travel through the Wrangell Narrows seen in these two postcards from the 1920s, this is another locality that I recall my parents talking about.  The card above has a photograph by John Edward Thwaites who delivered mail to the costal communities.  He worked as a clerk for the Railway Mail Service beginning in 1905 and sailed on the S.S. Dora a mail boat traveling the route from Valdez to Unalaska and later in 1914 on the Seward-Seattle route.  As an amateur photographer he used a Kodak camera and documented his experiences.  The postcard market was booming and he continued to take photos selling thousands of photographic postcards with scenes from Alaska. 

The card below I found in a shop in Ketchikan.  It appears to have been taken about the same time and shows a slightly different angle of the same body of water.  The image number #3146 is found on the reverse and a notation that Lantern Press, Seattle, WA, printed the card.

Another view of Wrangell Narrows, Alaska, ca 1920s

Wrangell Narrows is a winding, 22 miles or 35 km, channel between Mitkof and Kupreanof Islands in Southeast Alaska.  Because of the navigational hazards there are about 60 lights and buoys to mark the safe passage areas.  The Narrows is named for the narrowest central portion of the channel.  Used by fishing boats and the Alaska Marine Highway ferries the Narrows are too shallow and narrow for the cruise ships. 

For more information, see:

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Shadow Lake, Mt. Rainier National Park, 2019

Cloudy and no view of the top of Mt. Rainier

The flowers are starting to bloom in Mt. Rainier National Park, Sunrise was open, and we decided to do a short, lesser elevation gain hike.  The parking lot at Sunrise was nearly full when we arrived before 9 am.  It was about 48 degrees F and we added a couple of layers before starting out to our planned destination of Shadow Lake.  We stopped by this pretty lake on the way down from Second Buroughs in 2016 but this time we were just going to the lake.  It is about a 4 mile round trip with 200 ft of elevation gain.  The parking lot is at 6400 ft and the lake is at 6200 ft making the return trip mostly uphill.  There were a few small odd patches of snow here and there.  

Sunrise parking area, still lots of clouds

Like most of the trails in the park this one is mostly wide, packed dirt with some rocks, and no dogs allowed.   Usually when we hike at Rainier we do not count hikers because it is so popular and heavily used.  This was a Saturday so probably more people than a weekday but even so we did not see as many people as we expected.  

Part way up the old road leading to Sunrise Camp is this sign 

 One of the first flowers to come up after the snow recedes is the Western Anemone or Pasque Flower also called a Mop Head.  On this hike we saw all three stages of the bloom from the blue white buds above,

 to the pretty white and yellow flower and 

finally the beginnings of the Mop Head phase that lasts all summer long.

Another early bloomer is the yellow Glacier Lily.  There were thousands of these delicate lilies almost everywhere we looked.  

 Yellow stream violets

Jacob's Ladder

Marsh Marigolds




Slightly darker Veronica


Magenta Paintbrush

 Sitka Valerian

 Bear grass

Yellow Lousewort




Mountain daisy

 Another sign

and we have arrived at Shadow Lake

We followed the loop trail and came upon this meadow with sky clearing

 but still too many clouds for a mountain top view

Large group of Bear grass 

The temperature while hiking was very pleasant.  We heard birdsong, some water noise from small creeks, and had just a slight breeze.  There were several chipmunks and one golden mantled ground squirrel.  

When we returned to the parking lot the temperature had gone up to 56 degrees F but by the time we got back to the city it was 80 degrees F.