Sunset to Sunrise In Mt Rainier National Park

Standing at the base of Mount Rainer at Sunrise is awe-inspiring and humbling. Seeing the mountain from afar looming on the horizon on a clear day does not give it any justice of the beauty of this symbol of Washington State. For two days sunset to sunrise, I had the awe-inspiring moments to see the mountain in all its glory.

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Sunrise area at the northeast corner is the highest of the park’s roads accessible areas to the mountain and the best place to get an up-close look at the biggest glacier collection in U.S. Sunrise like it name was where I set out on viewing the majestic sunsets and sunrises from nearby lookouts.

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The first things first, we had to stop by the White River campground to pitch our tents so we can fall into them into them without having to worry about it later that night. Getting two campsites together was a challenge, but we did find two (later that night we would come back to one of the sites having people already pitched a tent and asleep!). At roughly 2pm we headed for the trails to hike up to see the sunset while eating dinner.

Fremont Lookout:

We headed towards Fremont Lookout on Fremont Peak via the Frozen Lake trail. The trail starts out next to the Sunrise Rainier National Park Hotel. The trails at this point were busy with day hikers coming and going.

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Many hikers we encountered on the way up did talk of seeing bears in the area. Most said the higher up you went towards the lookout, the more chance you would see a bear in the distance. Cougars I can handle, but when it comes to bears, it can be scary to encounter one on a trail. Mount Rainier only has black bears and not grizzly bears thank goodness, but it still was in the back of my mind when I hiked up with the group of us.

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The trail up towards Frozen Lake is long, dusty and has little shade along the way as weaving through the mountainside. Bringing extra water is a must if the temperatures are above 70°F. Side cliffs opened to vistas of Mount Rainier looming before I covered in icy snow.IMG_3446

Frozen Lake is a lake with a snowpack that melts throughout the summer for drinking water in the Sunrise area of the park. It really is a small glacier that must be massive in the winter time. There was not a way of telling how cold this lake is because you cannot swim in it due to being blocked off from the public.

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At the crossroad of trails Frozen Lake and Fremont Lookout, this Cascade Golden Mantle Squirrel was begging for the walnuts we had in our packs. At one point we could get close enough to touch it, and it took the nuts right out of our hands. I will admit to knowing full well there are no feeding animals in the park, and yes there was a sign on the other side of this rock stating this! Shame on me!IMG_3460

The trail up to Fremont Lookout was rocky slopes with small boulder and talus fields to navigate. Towards the top, the trail narrows with massive boulders below reminding all hikers to be careful navigating the loose rocks making up the trail. At one point while getting closer to the lookout, there was a sound like a gunshot/firework coming from the slopes of Mount Rainier opposite of me. This happened not only once, but a few times as an indicator of an avalanche and even in the middle of summer, it is still an issue hikers face. The avalanche was not viable to us on Fremont Peak. IMG_3473

Once in sight of the lookout building, the temperature started dropping as the sun was sinking closer to the horizon. Even saw the mythical bird called a Ptargen that lives in the alpine. _DSC0148

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After exploring the lookout (the lookout is locked, and cannot camp out in it anymore), we all settled into the rock outcrops to enjoy our dinner in a sealed pouch. While eating our meals, we watched the sunset in quietness enjoying natures most beautiful sight. IMG_3487

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Sunsets are a life-changing moment for many who witness them. Experiencing them atop a mountain is a once in a lifetime moment.  Watching the sun sinking into the horizon reminds me to take a step back and just experience life as it is in the moment. The pinks, purples and golden rays refracting off the slopes of Mount Rainier is and always a beautiful sight to behold. _DSC0154

It’s even better then an Instagram post could ever capture!

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After spending another hour atop, we headed down the trail in dying light toward camp. By halfway down the darkness started to change the landscape into something of a mystery.  I have only ever hiked in darkness once. Being told by forest rangers this is bear and cougar country, it does make one very hyper-aware of your surroundings. I will say it was nerve-wracking to be the one in front of the group leading them down the trail! I did get down the trail unscathed as a group of people started heading up the trail (it must be a thing to hike at night). I arrived with the group back at the campsite and passed out after 5.2 miles!

Shadow Lake Trail:

Getting up to chase the sunrise can be a pain in the butt at 5am after only four hours of sleep the night before. Having no coffee and only a granola bar to get me to the lake just makes it harder. But seeing the sunrise was worth it! As I trudged onward towards my final destination, the rays from the sun started moving up the mountain in golden rays reflecting off illuminating all around the lake. At Shadow Lake, the place was remote enough to allow peace to resonate as nature started waking up for another day.

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Here coffee finally was pumping through my veins waking me up for another day of hiking. The only sound I could not stand was the deer flies and the mosquitoes trying to add to the collection of bites from the previous day.

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After spending relative peace and quiet taking in the beautiful sunrise, it was time to head towards the next trail-First Burroughs Mountain Trail. As I climbed up to the junction for the trail, I passed an old 1930s campground. The outlines of the camping spots can still be seen to this day.IMG_3503

First Burroughs Mountain Trail:

The  Frozen Lake Junction is where a few other alpine trails split off. One such trail is First and Second Burroughs Mountain trail. The trail is 4.7 miles of steep switchbacks along some rocky talus fields were marmots, ptarmigans, pika and the famous mountain goats made appearances. One such marmot ran down the steep slope and jumped right in front my face as he made is way past me!

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Once to the top of First Burroughs Mountain, I was up close and personal with a mountain that is a sleeping volcano. My second one in a span of four weeks!

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Spending an hour looking at Mt. Rainier, and checking out all the peaks of interest, the group and I made our way down the trail towards the parking lot. Five Guys Burgers and a Starbucks were in order after two days of hiking in the alpine of Mount Rainier.

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What are some favorite memories at national parks? Is Rainier on your list of places to visit? Let me know in the comments!

Information:

Fremont Lookout
Shadow Lake
First Burroughs Mountain

Heather Lake Trail| Hike Into The Alpine

 

Alpine lakes stir up images of crystal pristine water with emerald green vegetation, with possible snow on the high slopes. Heather Lake Trail is one to do in late spring early summer to view this beautiful alpine wonder without having to backpack very far up a mountain. This lake has been on my list for some time, and when I had the opportunity to hike to this lake as my first alpine hiking trip, I could not pass it up.

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With a pack all loaded with all the essentials, I headed out for a 4.6 miles round trip to the lake summit. The trail winds through young growth and old growth forests with lots of green vegetation along the path. There were sections where old boardwalks and bridges have been beaten up by nature.

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IMG_3182 Along the trail, there were small streams running over rocks with small pools of water where salamanders were hiding. A fellow hiker in my group caught a salamander hiding under a rock in the above picture. The little guy was not a happy camper about it, and at one point almost slipped out of her hand entirely.

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At one point a banana slug was found to be moving slowly up a trunk of a moss-covered tree. This one decided it did not want to be down on the trail and decided to move to a higher location.

_DSC0041If you are wondering, yes I have licked a banana slug before, and the slime from the slug does make the tongue go numb for a short while (I do not endorse licking slugs in general!). One time was enough for me and thus would never do it again.

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Once to the top of the lake shore, my fellow hikers and I found a nice vantage point on a rock overlooking the lake for lunch. This rock has been known to be proposal rock and a few people have been asked here in the past.

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After much needed substance, the snow pack near the slope by the lake was a call to be explored. The whole time I was looking for watermelon snow (snow that is a ting pinkish-red) for a sample to analyze in the lab later. Watermelon snow does taste a little like watermelon, but you do not want to consume it for you will get a bad case of Hersey squats!

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While there appears to be one lake, Heather Lake is actually made up of one large lake and a smaller one more like a marsh. Here plants and small animals thrive to create a mini ecosystem in an alpine elevation.

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While exploring the smaller lake area, I came across some frog eggs. At first I though they maybe salamander eggs, but frog eggs have a distinct color and shape to them. They almost look like a bunch of eyes looking at you in my hand.

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With the summer heatwave in full effect, the 80°F temperature made this one heck of a sweaty hike. At one point I decided to dip my feet into the lake to cool off. Just imagine how refreshing it was for thirty seconds before you cannot feel your foot! Heather Lake is an alpine lake being fed by glaciers, thus making this lake very cold!!

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After spending some time by the lake soaking in the quiet beauty and being one with nature, I headed down towards civilization. Even with a dip in the alpine lake, the hike down was still sweaty from the 80°F heat the area was getting at the time. By the time I reached the parking lot, I was clear out of the water! A ranger station a few miles down the road had a water spigot to refill my water bottle for the drive home. A reminder to carry enough water with you, even if it is two water bottles full of water.

Have you hiked Heather Lake before? Did you do it in spring or summer? Or in fall or winter?

Information:
Heather Lake Trail

 

Hiking Rattlesnake Ledge

2017:

I have already done this hike before, but this time it seemed there was something different this time around. It might have been due to hiking in a small group of students at Northwest U, or I just knew the outcome of this hike. Either way, it was a better view this time. Last time I went it was in the middle of summer (the hottest on record), the lake was almost non-existent, and there were people doing stupid stuff up on the ledge. This time, there was none of this!

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The hike started out around 10am in the morning, and ended around 1:30pm. It took us two hours total to go up and down the trail; and hanging out on the ledge taking Instagram worthy pictures (most of the others are out-of-state people who never been, and so worth being a part of this for them).

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Then a few minutes hanging by the lake to cool off before heading back home.

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2015:

What to do when you don’t have a reason to be at Sea Fair? Beat the Interstate 90 bridge closure and go hike Rattlesnake Ledge trail with a friend. Early on Saturday morning a friend and I went on an adventure up Rattlesnake Ledge on a hot summer day (90 degrees!) to experience the view everyone talks about.

Boy was we in for a great view, just look at this view!

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The Ledge View
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Mt. Si View

We started our adventure with a forty-five-minute drive from Seattle towards the outskirts of North Bend. After a few minutes going around in circles in the small town of Tanner looking for the road leading up to the trail with a GPS that was having dumb movement, we finally got to the parking lot of the trailhead around 9am.

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Dry Lake Bed

Since the whole state is in a state of drought, there was a section of the lake bed that had dried up and you could trek across the lake bed to the head of the trail without going all around the lake. Starting up the trail at 9am is a good time because there was not a lot of people going up or down at this time. There were a lot of pauses along the trail for some water after the heat of the day started to come through the canopy of trees. The trail going up had switchbacks, steep inclines in areas, rocky and tree roots on the trail. There were times when my friend had to help me up with the steps made out of tree roots. Overall I made it up the trail without any incident.

I reached the ledge after an hour of hiking two miles up the trail. The view did not disappoint at all, and the sun made the perfect reason to bask on the rocks looking out over the valley below. The lake below was a beautiful bluish- green color with the banks very visible from the ledge showing how dry the summer has been. From the ledge, you could see Mt Si, North Bend, Tanner/Riverbend, Chester Morse Lake, Christmas Lake and Iron Horse State Park Trail.

11145235_10207759989504698_4474455020043415380_oAfter spending an hour on the ledge people watching and resting for the trip back down, I started to see groups of people starting to get crowded the ledge. We decided to start back down the trail after a few people started to push others out-of-the-way on the ledge. While coming down there were a lot of people starting up the trail to the ledge and a few people who were struggling with the heat as they hiked upward. I am so glad the both of us decided to go earlier because marching up the trail with people crowding behind you would not be a fun experience and the weather was getting warmer the longer I was on the trail. When we drove out of the area there were a lot of cars parked on the shoulder of the road and lots of people on or by Rattlesnake Lake.

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I hiked All The Way Up There!

After finishing the hike we stopped in North Bend to refuel ourselves and then head back home to cool off from the Ninety-degree weather.  Now I can check this one hike off my bucket list and try next time to hike up to Upper Ledge which is another 3.8 miles past the lower ledge.

 

Sweaty Hike Through Saint Edwards State Park

Seminary Building

Boy was it hot on the day I decided to go take an urban hike through Saint Edwards State Park! This solo adventure started off with me asking myself is this worth getting sweaty? Yes!

I started out towards the beach (Lake Washington) for a glimpse of the lake from a different angle. I started off on the Perimeter trail, but somehow found myself on the Seminary trail which lead to the beach. The beach was peaceful with the water lapping at the shore, and a few people where swimming in the lake as Kenmore Air float planes came flying overhead.

Peek of Lake Washington

After taking in the view of the lake I headed towards the Orchard Loop. The trail that connects to Orchard Loop trail ended up being the part of the hike that felt like it was going to kill me! South Canyon trail ended up being one of those challenging trails because I had to hike it all uphill!! Here I was huffing, puffing, and sweating all the way to the connection for the loop trail. I now know for future hikes to go down this trail instead of up it. Once on the Orchard Loop trail, it was all easy, and I regained my breath. Unfortunately the “orchard” was nowhere to be found, or I miss something along the trail.  I must have because there was not an orchard to be found as I made the whole loop again. Very disappointed after huffing and puffing my way to it.

After finding my way back to where the seminary buildings are, I decided to find the famous Grotto seen in wedding pictures. Ha! I ended up reading the map wrong! I thought the Grotto trail lead to the Grotto, but nope. Apparently it by passes it from the bottom of the hill instead (palm to face). I hiked all the way back down to the lake, and then had to take Seminary trail back up!

Stone Steps On Trail

Eventually I found a map with the “you are here” circle to finally be steered in the correct direction for the Grotto. Dear reader, I made it harder than it should have been. The Perimeter trail going towards the playground in a corner of the field is where the entrance to the trail leading to the Grotto starts.

Behind Look of The Grotto

Once there I really found it peaceful and secluded. A little slice of magic in the middle of the woods. I joked on Instagram I had found the place where I was getting married….when the time comes….when I find someone first…..ok then.

Selfie with The Grotto

The structure is a small stone altar with stone steps and a path leading up to it. Stone walls border around the area to make it look like small outdoor church/sanctuary. A very beautiful spot for a small intimate wedding.

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Leading Up To The Grotto

After hiking lost all around the area, I decided it was time to head back home and get out of the heat. While walking back to the car, I decided to check out around the Seminary building.

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Entrance To The Seminary Building

There is something about old church buildings and how they speak volumes without making a sound. Lots of stories being told in these hollow halls of this building, and judging by the land action notice sign, it seems the place will have a few more to share in the coming years.

Overall I hiked a total of 5.5 miles. Not bad for an urban hike.

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Deception Pass State Park

For the longest time I have been wanting to visit Deception Pass and the bridge that keeps showing up on my news feed over the past couple of months. Over one holiday weekend Dad and I loaded up the truck with our fishing gear and headed for Deception Pass Park’s Cranberry Lake for some fishing. Along the way we stopped to take in the sight that is Deception Pass Bridge.

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On a Friday morning we loaded up the truck with fishing gear and drove an hour and a half up to Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey  Island side to Cranberry Lake. Once there we were greeted by a serene looking lake, and quietness of an early morning fishing spot. The side we ended up on was the east side of Cranberry lake near the entrance to the park’s campground. A half an hour into fishing I had caught my first fish, a medium size striped bass. For some weird reason I was more tickled about catching it than any other fish caught the whole day. Around 8:30am the Navy decided it was time for some training with the F-18 Hornets (Navel Air Base Whidbey is nearby). At one point if you were not awake already, you would have been once one turned on its after burner and then a sonic boom would jolt you awake. After awhile you just became use to the sound roaring over head as they were doing maneuvers over the lake. Later in the morning we ended up with a medium-sized catfish and a very small striped bass which sadly had to be released back into the lake.

 

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Stripped Bass
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Catfish

After a while I started catching large clumps of water weeds instead of fish. A true disappointment when you think there is a fish on the end of the line giving a fight.

After four hours of fishing we decided it was time to go when more people started showing up and crowding the dock. On the way back home we stopped at the Deception Pass Bridge Park to view the bridge by the same name. This bridge when seen in the flesh is quite a marvel of engineering, and raw beauty nature surrounding the structure in breath-taking. Being on the side of the bridge is a little nerve-wracking when cars are speeding past you close to the narrow strip of concrete you are standing on. But the view was worth the nerve-wracking, and I would never change that feeling.

 

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View Below The Bridge
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Vew From the Bridge

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The water below was a light turquoise color close to the waters around Hawaiian Islands during a rain storm and could see the swirling currents in the channel below. At one point a motor boat was gunning the engine into full throttle to get through the channel to the other side. I have heard in the past people have become stick in these strong currents coming off the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Skagit Bay.

 

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Skagit Bay w/ Strawberry Island
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Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Pacific Ocean

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There were plenty of trails to hike down to the beaches along the channel, but I would like to save those for another time when I can devote a whole day to it. I believe another visit will be in store soon, and hopefully it will be on a sunny warm day. Driving back along highway 20, there were two lakes looking very tempting to fish. Pass Lake and Campbell Lake are the next lakes to tryout in the near future.

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North Beach Below

Now I can check this off the bucket list, and hopefully will have the chance to take out-of-state visitors to this wonderful gem close to the San Juan Islands. Maybe I will see them too. Who knows?

Riding The Ducks Through Seattle

I understand there is still morning of loss after a year three years ago a terrible crash involving a Ride the Ducks vehicle resulted in serious injuries and a few lost their lives when one crashed into the side of a tour bus on the Aurora Bridge. I respect those who remember this terrible tragedy, and in no way being insensitive by riding this vehicle. I was in the area when the crashed happened and remember those who put their lives in danger to help those injured. Below is an account of riding the ducks after major changes to how the tour operates and the route. All I asks dear reader is to not post any mean-spirited comments below. Thank you, and continue prayers for those who were affected by this tragedy.

I will admit it has been a while since I have been down town at the Seattle Center. I was a little nervous in not being able to find a parking spot, but alas there was a grange not even full! *cue happy dance music* I believe this made my day more than riding the ducks.

We started the tour on the Duck when the sun was out and ended with the sun starting to go behind the clouds. Thank goodness the rain was kept at bay for the whole ride. I had a wonderful time riding around down town Seattle and cruising Lake Union in a strange vehicle.

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About to ride the duck

The tour started from Seattle Center, down to the waterfront to drive under the US most dangerous elevated highway (Viaduct), past Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, shopping district, Westlake, Fremont, boat around in Lake Union, and then back to Seattle Center. All this while partying like a bachelorette party minus the inappropriate behavior and dancers.

In downtown Seattle we cruised through the old and new parts of town, with silly music blaring. Random people on the streets did play along with our crazy antics. One guy even started dancing to the music on the street corner to the embarrassment of his girlfriend. Another decided to engage us all in a sign that told us to smile more. In SLU it was hard to get the “Blue Badges” of Amazon people to look up from their phones at the stop light. Oh well! I guess we all cannot be fun all the time.

While aboard I saw a condense version of the sights in Seattle and listening to the tour guide tell funny jokes and stories about the history of the city. Being from the area I enjoyed seeing how the locals reacted to the crazy tourists on a boat with wheels. As I said above, the whole thing can be down right comical.

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Two ducks taking a selfie

Cruising Lake Union in the Duck was by far the best part. One minute you are driving on the pavement, and then next you are floating on the water without sinking. I have never been boating on Lake Union, so this was what I was looking forward to. Sights seen on the lake were the original Sleepless In Seattle house boat which when seen looks just like an ordinary house boat, Gas Works Park and the Seattle skyline from South Lake Union,  from the comfort of a steel military boa

Since taking a spin on the Ducks I will be more willing to go along with the crazy when a Duck pulls up at a light. After all it makes the day go a lot smoother when you can have some fun. After the ride Nana and I went to the Center House to have lunch and then up to Kerry Park for some Space Needle ogling.

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