7/21/14

Back to Business

We're back from our weekend at Mt. Rainier, and I have a few things to show you. The weather was lovely, and the mosquitoes didn't bother us too much. We're thinking of it as a little warm-up for our trip to Minnesota in September. It was a good trip for the most part, although there was a lot more snow on the mountain than we anticipated. It was quite surprising given that we've been to Mt. Rainier at almost precisely the same dates on the calendar and found it warm and clear.

We stayed at an little RV park just about a mile from the national park entrance. We've stayed there a few times before. It's quiet and peaceful. The park is under new ownership, and they had us packed in a little like sardines...unnecessarily so, we thought, since there were empty spaces that would have allowed everyone a little more breathing room and privacy.


Here's what we saw looking the other direction. I love the tall trees this park has to offer.


There was a small but reliable wi-fi hot spot in the little building you see just beyond where those men are walking. Any pictures I posted while we were gone were from there. There was also a laundry and a nice public shower in the same building. 

The public shower would have come in handy had we been more fastidious about our personal hygiene. We had a plumbing leak that required bypassing our water heater, meaning we had no hot water on this trip. My father, the consummate RVer even before RVs became very popular in America, had a saying: "Never let an RV problem ruin your day." It's very good advice, and we heed it regularly. 

The camper is our third RV and each one has had its little bugaboos left over from the manufacturing process. For this camper, plumbing has that role. Fittings are either not tightened enough, or, like this one, tightened too much and broken. Mike tried a temporary fix with electrical tape, which only succeeded in turning a drip into a spurting disaster, and so we simply bypassed the water heater and lived with cold water. Oh well. Once we had resigned ourselves to a cold water trip, we took a little walk around the campground, and the pictures I posted earlier were the result.

Saturday morning we settled on the Upper Paradise Valley trail, thinking it was new to us. It starts with this little short leg called 4th Crossing. (I believe this refers to where the road crosses the Paradise River for the 4th time.)


It leads to a junction with the Skyline Trail, where one must decide to turn either left or right. We've made the left turn on a previous visit, but haven't yet gone right, and that was the plan. It started out nice enough with heather in bloom.


And here is the cascading Paradise River.


But we hadn't even reached the junction when we encountered a lot of snow.


Contrast the image above taken July 19, 2014, with the one below, taken on July 23, 2005. 


This is approximately the same section of trail, and the difference is pretty amazing. We have no explanation for this since we've had quite a bit of warm weather this summer. Obviously, there was more snowfall over the winter. 

Mike forged on ahead for a little ways to see if it continued the same way. While he was gone, I happened to glance up, and I saw this:


The sky was so blue, and it smelled so good...very piny and clean.

Mike returned with the bad news that the trail was impassable...at least for our old knees...and so we went back to the truck and drove the loop road from the Nisqualley entrance (where we came in) to the Stevens Canyon entrance. Despite not being able to hike the trails, the scenery was breath-taking, and we enjoyed our day.


We turned out at one of the parking lots. To the west, was the view in the image above. To the north was Mt. Rainier. It was obscured in clouds at this point, but they were sailing by so fast, we stood for a time hoping it would clear for a picture.


As quickly as one cloud blew by, another formed, and the view remained mostly obscured while we waited.


Our shadow selves made an appearance here. They were kind of short at this time of day.


Another five minutes or so passed, 


and we finally gave up and drove on to the Reflection Lakes, where we could see the mountain unobscured.


Here, we took the requisite selfie.


It was so pretty here, and we were able to pick our way over the remaining snow drifts and walk along the lake shore part way.


Also, we got our best up-close views of the wildflowers. There weren't as many as we'd hoped to see since many were only just starting to bud. Still, there were some pretty ones. These reminded us of trilliums. While trilliums have three petals and three leaves on the plant, these had more. Otherwise, they're essentially the same flower. These are known as Avalanche Lily:


The orange Indian paintbrush were well represented, as well as the pink guys you see in the image below. I don't know many of these, and so if you do, then please chime in.


Another purple one I don't know:



I'm thinking these white ones below might be False Hellebore, not completely opened, but I'm not sure.


Here's a common thistle. I wasn't expecting to see these, but there you go.


These next ones are called Beargrass. They were about the size of a softball.



Big clusters of white flowers:


Buttercups:


We saw the lake from different sides as we walked around, then headed back to the truck and drove on.


You know, we love our tunnels. This one was blasted out of solid rock.


Just beyond the tunnel we came to the half-mile Box Canyon Trail, and we got out and walked the short loop.


If you can't read the sign, it tells you that the trail crosses a deep river gorge and follows in a glacier's path. "Rock slabs have been 'polished' by sediment-rich water flowing beneath the glacier. . . Plant life has had a tough time getting a grip" on the smooth rock, although you can see lichens and mosses taking root. Here's a good example:


We crossed over this little bridge


where we could look into the deep river canyon. This picture doesn't capture the depth very well, and of course, hearing the rushing river was very dramatic.


Watch your step:


Would you believe we saw a mother holding her toddler standing on this wall for a picture? Mike joked, "And this is the last picture we have of Matilda." 

From there we left the park and drove a forest road back to the RV park, and then just relaxed for the rest of the day. We were disappointed not to be able to do much hiking, but it was a nice weekend just the same.

And now, here we are at Monday again. Let's just pause here for a moment and consider that July is nearly 2/3 over and my list of goals is barely touched. Oh well. I knew it would be that way, and there is no use stressing over it. I have some housework to do, and I absolutely must get back to my exercise routine. The last couple of weeks have been quite a disruption, but they've been so much fun that it's hard to get too worked up about it. Still, I'm determined to get back on the horse today. Also, I'm hoping to get my doll quilt finished. 

Tomorrow I'm doing the first of three observations of the Coffee Creek Quilters teaching quilting to the inmates at the Coffee Creek Correction Facility. The observations come first, and if I decide I want to continue, there will be quite a bit of training both by the volunteer organization, and the Oregon Department of Corrections. They want to be sure folks are serious about becoming volunteers before investing a lot of time and effort. Thus, the three observations.

I'm meeting one of the volunteers in Newberg, not far from where I live, and we'll ride there together. Some dress code rules: No blue denim, no light blue or lime green tops, no heavy jewelry, and no underwire bras. (What?!?!?) They set off the metal detectors and then you have to be patted down by a corrections officer. Hm. A sports bra will have to do.

Also, tonight is our guild meeting. Karla Alexander is tonight's speaker. Karla was with me when I made my trip to Ireland, so I'm looking forward to seeing her at the meeting. And with that, I guess I'll get on with it. 

What's on your agenda for today?

21 comments from clever and witty friends:

ipatchandquilt said...

What wonderful pictures! They remind me of a the rocky Mountains I was abke to visit a few years ago!
Good luck with volunteering,
Esther

Lyndsey said...

Beautiful pictures as always. It's a shame you were unable to hike but it's good to know you had a great time.

Marei said...

Beautiful pictures....I could almost smell the pine needles in the sunshine! And I vote for wearing the underwire bra as a 'pat down' might just be the ticket to a good day.....just saying. :)

beaquilter said...

lovely pics, what camera do you have?

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Wonderful photos! And looks like you had a good time even with the snow.

Christine M said...

Looks like a lovely place to visit, Barbara.

WoolenSails said...

What an amazing trip and those views are breath taking, would love to visit there. Those sites do seem a bit too close but it is a nice wooded site so that helps.

Debbie

Tami C said...

I can see why you were surprised to run into snow on your hike! A walk involving beautiful wildflowers sounds really good! I enjoyed seeing all of the wildflowers and the scenery. I have yet been to Oregon or Washington, but they are both on my list.

Needled Mom said...

Your photography is fabulous and the scenery is gorgeous.

quiltzyx said...

Wonderful pics from your weekend. I'm glad that you didn't make me hike through that snow, I think it would have leaked into my sandals.

Thanks to our pal Google, I think the pink flowers with the Orange Indian Paintbrush are Pink Spirea. The next purple ones - maybe Penstemon? I love the closer up pictures of the bear grass. I have never seen that before.

Good luck with your observations at the CCCF. I think I only have one pair of non-blue jeans!

Hope you had fun at your meeting. How exciting that Karla was on your Ireland tour with you!

Kate said...

I was wondering if there was still snow! We were there a month ago and the snowpack at the Visitor's Center was deep. I think they said the roads had only been open for a week (and it was mid-June!) My older son played the "germination game" at the VC and peppered the poor rangers with questions about the late snow and the wildflowers. I'll have to let him know they're blooming. ;)

Cath said...

oh my, oh my, oh my......now I want to travel to your part of the world more than ever.....I wouldn't mind exploring in a RV.

liniecat said...

Your posts are so often sheer glory for the senses and this is no exception!
Stunning pics again, though I was puffed 'walking' through them with you ... lol
Is it just me I wonder, yes probably... but for some reason your blue sky pic with the tall firs reaching out towards eachother, was like a forest re-enactment of those famous touching hands of Leonardos epic ceiling painting!
Like I said, most probably my quirky eyes lol
Interesting to see the snow there when normally it would have melted back, that would knock on to the ecology of the area I imagine.
And those smoothed over glacial rocks!
Amazing to see those!
What power to have smoothed off edges like that!

Dana Gaffney said...

Beautiful pictures, I love it when you travel. Who cares about goals when you're having so much fun, grab it when you can. Good luck tomorrow at the observation, can't wait to hear what you think.

Lee said...

An aunt & uncle once lived in Enumclaw and their house had a huge picture window in the living room. The view through the window? Mt. Ranier. It was spectacular and she pointed out an area, where rock croppings lacking the snow surrounding them, looked like the profile of a reindeer's head. I was wondering what those white bulbous looking flowers were; we saw a lot of them near Suttle Lake a week ago.

Dar said...

What a beautiful park. I've never been to your neck of the woods, but would love to one day. I love seeing all your beautiful wild flowers, but wish they would come into focus more quickly. It takes me about 20-30 mins for them all to open. But they are worth viewing so I do it. Thanks for sharing such beauty with the rest of us.

Jacque said...

What a spectacular trip! Snow and wildflowers on the same day! Love "traveling" with you!

Ruth said...

Lovely pictures! I know they don't really do justice of the views, but they are wonderful nevertheless. Speaking of campers, our first one was a slide in used Lance camper and we could never get the refrigerator to work without electricity. We had it checked many times and the mechanics always said everything looked good. Then why didn't it work?!?!? The frig in our current 5th wheel works so well - we love it! What a relief not to have to throw out food.

Diane Wild said...

Fabulous hiking scenery. Hope your knees are holding up. With all your meetings and now volunteering, when are you going to have time to sew? Love your pics.

Michelle F said...

Very pretty pictures!!

They are saying we're going to have another polar vortex winter.
The fact that there is still snow, I wonder if their right!?

Kate said...

Sorry the snow cut short some of your hikes. It's beautiful country side!