Inking up!

Inking up!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chasing Spring

Elephant's Head growing in a swamp on the hike up.

Bill and I took a 3 day hiking trip up in the Goat Rocks Wilderness this last weekend. One of the great thing about summer hiking in the mountains is that you can chase spring up the mountain, seeing flowers as they emerge from winter hibernation.

I was still bruised, scraped, and muscle sore from the weekend before, but somehow I forgot till we got miles into the hike. On the 4.27 mile hike to camp, every stop to rest was also an opportunity to lighten our load by drinking water, eating trail mix and peeing. Even the mosquitos tried to help us out by relieving us of our blood! Bill lightened his load by losing his water bottle in a stream 1/2 way to camp.

Bear Grass was blooming everywhere, from near the bottom to the very top, but around camp it opened in full over the 3 days we were there.

We camped off the Bypass Trail, near the waterfall. This is Bill's favorite spot. He says this is his 8th or 9th trip up here!

Valerian was blooming everywhere, different stages at differing elevations.

We set up camp then headed up to Goat Lake. That bowl shape up on the right holds Goat Lake. Base camp to Goat Lake was a climb from 4,200 to 5,800 ft. It took us nearly 3 hours to hike these 2.5 miles.

We were a bit early for the spring flush of flowers that carpet the meadows. So instead we got a lot of snow melting run off that created beautiful falls, and many springs. We had to cross this one, but it was easy peasy.

And though the big blooming fields weren't painted red and purple, there were a lot of anemones blooming everywhere. Bill said he has never been here early enough to see the anemones in bloom, so this was one of his special treats.

We had to cross many snow fields on steep slopes. It was all very dismaying to me, liking neither heights or fast slippery experiences (including ice-skating, roller-skating and skiing). You can see the trail at the left side of the picture. The path is really only one foot width wide. I am looking southeast towards the Goat Rocks Ridge, the lake is behind me. Most of these snowfields were fairly short crossings, but one in particular was too long and too steep. I almost couldn't do it, but I had come so far, I wanted to see the lake!

The lake was still frozen and mostly snow covered.

We probably took fifty pictures just of Mt. Adams, this one is from the lake.

The way back to camp was slow. We took so many pictures of flowers. Every squat down to take a picture required Bill to pull me back up to sitting, my muscles were still so sore from the previous weekend's hike. Bill was pretty sore, too.

That first night was strange. In the tent Bill had just closed his eyes. It takes him about 60 seconds to fall asleep, so I woke him when a few minutes later there was a bright flash, like a headlamp being turned on to, and then away from, our tent. Soon it became apparent there was a thunder and lightning storm. The echoing of thunder off the ridges was like nothing I had ever heard before; never to be forgotten. The strange part was the non-lightning light which seemed to glow for a long time now and then. Bill suggested it was others campers setting up nearby, and I accepted that.

The next day we headed up to the Pacific Crest Trail toward Packwood Glacier. We saw more wildflowers and great rocks.

The paintbrush were just starting. In the background on the right you can see the mountains that hold Goat Lake. I think that snowy top might be Mt. Rainier, but we didn't know that when we took the picture. We are now on the trail below Goat Rock Ridge, as seen from Goat Lake the previous day.

Again, Goat Rock Ridge. Where does this color sky come from?

Somewhere up here we talked to some hikers who asked how the storm was for us. They said they could see three fires the lightning started, one quite near where they thought we were camping. Oh my! The mystery light was solved. This information was a little eerie.

And of course, there were more snow fields to cross, but not so steep as yesterday.

We were quite committed to get all the way to the glacier at 7,100 ft and only 2.5 miles from camp. It was a bit disappointing when we got there, as the glacier was covered by snow and looked like any other snowfield. Here was our view of Goat Lake, however, from our destination point.

The icing on the hike was this surprise view of Mt. Rainier from the glacier. Right away I started talking about when we could come back and get a longer, better viewing. The fog was lifting, but it also appeared a storm might be coming in. Time to eat chocolate and turn around.

The next day we hiked down to the car. So many flowers had opened down below while we were up there. I won't post all the pictures, we took hundreds!

Thimbleberry flower.


  1. didn't i comment? my oh my, maybe because this was all so overwhelming and wonderful. be gentle with yourself!

  2. Catherine, you and Bill should publish a book of your gorgeous photographs. They are so very fine!