Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On The Wings of Raven

On the Wings of Raven

Adventures in Mt. Rainier National Park"

The Ascent was gradual as we climbed the rocky slopes. Looking down made me a bit dizzy, so I focused on the trail ahead. At last we felt we had arrived at our destination, we have been waiting for this for over a month now. The snows have melted away and Mother Earth has given birth to new growth. Broadleaf Lupine and Magenta Paintbrush illuminate the mountainsides, shades of purple, pink and yellow glow under the cobalt blue skies. We arrived at Frozen Lake, with icy blue colors around her shore, we looked up high and the Big Guy smiled down upon us. When I say the Big Guy I am referring to Mt. Rainier, The sleeping giant whose immense girth cradles us as we walk the trail. We are hiking on the Sourdough Ridge Trail on the Sunrise side of the park. This is the South Western edge of Mt. Rainier National Park where 1,000 foot drops ascend down to Glacial Lakes and fields of Wildflowers color the slopes and meadows. When we arrive at Frozen Lake we stop to take in the views around us. Everyone got excited when a Bear was spotted on the slopes of Burroughs Mountain. Plotting along the hillside the Cinnamon colored Black Bear is well known as he is in his older years of life. Soon he fades beyond the ridge and disappears. Here the trail spurs off into four different directions. The trail to Burroughs mountain in the south, The Wonderland Trail which encircles the park heads off in the west where you can continue to Mystic Lake… an optional trail through some snow fields takes you back to Sunrise Village and then to the North the Trail to Mt. Fremont Lookout. We opted for the trail to Mt. Fremont as it reminded us of one of our favorite hakes in Glacier National Park, the Ptarmigan Tunnel. A Narrow Ridge climbs to 7, 104 feet which is comprised mostly of shale and rock. Often the trail seems to disappear as you are walking on the shale. As we ascend we stop to look at the view around us. We are walking on the edge of the world, up to the top of Mt. Fremont where there is a lookout tower. Without notice, suddenly we are swarmed by hundreds of Mosquitoes, buzzing about and attempting to drain our juices. We spray ourselves vigorously with repellent to ward off the pesky beasts that persist to no end. For no reason they are here, except for the possibility of draining us of our precious blood. The air is dry; there is no water to be found anywhere, and not even a spot of shade. Despite the attack we continue to the top, and it was well worth it. Our stay at the top is brief to the increased numbers of those blood thirsty insects, long enough to photograph the views around us and look out at the world. The descent down is quick, and we make another brief stop at Frozen Lake to relax for a bit and admire the aqua blue icy colors of the lake. Along the route back we gaze around us, admiring periwinkle shades of spreading Phlox, the deep blue of the Alpine Lupine, and the sun glow hues of Shrubby Cinquefoil. By far there is no where else that I have been where the Wildflower diversity even matches this. Glorious colors of rosy pinks, yellows and purple are scattered in great abundance across the mountainside. We return to Sunrise village to have some chow before heading back to our campsite at White River. We we arrived back at our campsite, I took time to reflect on the day and feel gratitude for all that nature shares with us.

Day Two:

I awoke early to the bright sunlight shining through my tent. We feasted on breakfast then packed up to set out for another day of exploring. First stop was to be Tipsoo Lake off of Chinook Pass. This small alpine lake is set below Naches peak and surrounded by wildflowers. A short .5 mile hike takes you around the lake to admire the clear reflections of the Big Guy gazes into the glassy water. Again, the meadows are covered in wildflowers making this another gorgeous spot. The lake is an easy stroll, and a nice way to begin the day. More great photographs to be taken and gorgeous sunshine once again. Now it is onward to Ohanapacosh , a beautiful area surrounded by Old Growth Forests and Aqua Blue waterfalls. First stop is the trailhead to Silver Falls. The hike is a casual one, a mile and half to a beautiful waterfall cascading down through aquamarine waters. For awhile we sat by the rocks and just took into the beauty. I sat close to the edge and put my feet in the water which was very refreshing. Apparently awhile back some kayakers decide to go for a plunge ride over the falls, only to be met by Rangers at the end and provided with a pretty hefty fine. So much for foolish people, they pay the price in the end. After the refreshing hike, we continued on to our picnic site. Located amongst the Old Growth Forests of Cedar, Hemlock and firs, we feasted on yummies including some Corn on the Cob. The temperatures were soaring that day and it felt good to just hang out in the shade. After our picnic we began our ride pack to Paradise with a few pit stops along the way. Most of the towns in this Valley are pretty pitiful little places with no character what so ever. We had hoped to find a cool spot to go swimming in the River, yet could not find a pull out that was decent. Nevertheless the day was glorious as the entire trip. From Wildflowers to Rocky Ledges, and cascading rivers it was a breath of fresh air.

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