I took a walk in the woods
on a wet morning.
It reminded me of being in Oregon, except that I'm usually there either earlier or later in the year. Today I took care of both the red and blue food groups. There were lots and lots of huckleberries - predominantly red, but there were plenty of blue as well. I also found some of the small, tasty blackberries in one spot. I had planned on going to a different location later to harvest some of those, but I was more than satisfied with the amount I found here. Lastly, I found some thimbleberries and black raspberries.
I was the only soul on the trail until I returned. It was only at the point where I was only a few minutes from a well-known trail that I encountered my first humans of the day.
Van Trump Creek
Because of the road work, access to the Comet Falls trail head is available only during weekends. As usual, the trails are peaceful in the early morning hours. After that lots of people start showing up. I talked with someone who had hiked Skyline earlier in the week. He compared the crowds to an amusement park line. I was thinking about it and wondering if I really want to hike Skyline. The reason I asked him is because I was wondering if the flowers were peaking in Paradise yet. When we were there the bloom was way less than we had experienced during a couple of previous trips. Apparently they're still nowhere near peak, although I do know that they are pretty nice from the Fourth Crossing to Edith Creek.
I was debating whether to hike to Van Trump Park. I haven't read any reports about the flower conditions, and I was living on borrowed time in terms of the rain in the forecast. I didn't have my larger jacket that covers most of my camera gear. Plus the trail is steep, which I knew was going to hurt my knees on the way back down. I stood by Comet Falls for a long time pondering my decision. I finally started heading back. At one point my huckleberry eating was interrupted by a few sprinkles. Camera gear still dry, I continued hiking downhill. The rain didn't start until I was a few feet from the start of the trail.
This picture was taken at the incredible lupine meadow between Dick Lake and Upper Palisades Lake. There is another wonderful meadow less than a minute away from the edge of this one. The second meadow is sort of terraced. I wanted would have loved to have been able to access the lower terraces, but there is no trail headed down, and it would be a crime to trample those wonderful wildflowers.
This is the tarn below Plummer Peak. I decided that I wanted an easy day so this hike won out over Tatoosh Ridge/Lookout. I took my time and explored the social paths up there. The view from Plummer Peak was amazing. While I was scrambling up to the peak (a relatively easy task), I heard an exclamation from above. "No way!" The guy who was coming down is the same gent that I met and filtered water for when we were hiking to Panhandle Gap. He's flying back to Chicago on Monday. Who knows if I'll run into him again today.
I didn't expect that the trail would be crowded. My assumption was that most people just spend one or maybe a few days in the park and only hike the marquee trails. I thought that this was a hike that most people wouldn't have even heard of, with the disclaimer that the trail head is right across the road from one of the highlight stops. Since I started early I had the trail to myself all the way to the saddle. Later in the day there were so many people up there.
I was thinking about hiking to Snow Lake in the afternoon, but my knees were hurting too much when I hiked back down to the trail head. It wouldn't have mattered much anyway. Apparently Friday is already the weekend. I was surprised at how many people were at Reflection Lakes (which is the trail head for the hike.) I drove past the Snow Lake parking lot, which was full. I've been reading about how much more crowded National Parks have been this year, perhaps because of the centennial. Mount Rainier rangers just posted a notice of two hour waits at the Longmire and White River entrances. I've been arriving early and have had either one or no cars in front of me. Maybe it'll be different on a Saturday.
This shot was taken a short distance down the Northern Loop Trail.
Approaching Panhandle Gap
Wide angle and not having control over shift really throws off the perspective. The path is much steeper than it looks, and those walls are so much higher than they look in this picture. The scene is so much more impressive in person.
I hiked the Moraine Trail on the way back. That was interesting because it has views of the green lake and of the snout of the Emmons Glacier. I'm glad to have added that hike, but I wouldn't do it again in the future.
There were lots of wildflowers, and the hike was much better than I had anticipated.