GeezerHiker

July 23, 2013

Mount Rainier

Filed under: Hiking, Travel — Tags: , , — geezerwriter @ 9:29 pm

Sunday started out pretty much like the day before – a long drive through forests and hills and clouds and mist. But the sky cleared well before we got to Mount Rainier National Park’s aptly named Paradise visitor area. One goal was to see the new Jackson Visitor Center named, as is almost every public building in this part of the state, for the long serving Senator Henry (Scoop) Jackson (D-Boeing). The last time we were here in 2007 or 2008 they were still using the bizarre old 1950s building that looked more like the spaceship from The Day the Earth Stood Still than anything in nature, and construction was just getting underway on the new one.

Entrance to Jackson Visitor Center - iPhone

Entrance to Jackson Visitor Center – iPhone

Great Room

Great Room

That's a carpet!

That’s a carpet!

They did a wonderful job of coordinating the new building with the 1916 Paradise Inn, modeling its vaulted ceiling and open timber framing with modern materials and maintaining some of its warmth and coziness.

Paradise Inn - iPhone

Paradise Inn – iPhone

Paradise Inn table lamp - iPhone

Paradise Inn table lamp – iPhone

The visitor center was almost empty when we arrived from Chehalis at 10am but after a bit of hiking we had to elbow our way back in at 2pm – at that point you could hardly see, much less appreciate, the architecture of the place.

Visitor center in the afternoon - iPhone

In the afternoon – iPhone

Jackson Visitor Center and Tatoosh Range

Jackson Visitor Center and Tatoosh Range

[Note: I am very pleased with the quality of the pictures taken with my new iPhone 4S and tagged them so that you can be appropriately impressed, or even amazed.]

We hiked up the Dead Horse Creek trail and back down the Alta Vista trail for a total of about 3 miles and 700′ of elevation gain. The trails in the Paradise area are mostly paved, very heavily used and quite steep in spots. We were a little early for the full wildflower display – there wasn’t a great variety but it is ahead of where we are here in the far north, with lots of Avalanche Lilies and heathers in bloom.

Avalanche Lily

Avalanche Lily

Western Anemone

Western Anemone or Pasqueflower

Heather in bloom

Heather in bloom

As usual, each picture can be enlarged by clicking on it; in particular, the Western Anemone is in full resolution, displaying the phenomenal level of detail to be had when I can manage to operate my new Sony RX100 camera properly. I now have no excuses for taking any mediocre pictures.

If you have never visited Paradise, you should know that the reason the views of Mount Rainier are so spectacular is that it resides at 5400′ ASL (above sea level), above the tree line, and Rainier rises another full 9000′ to 14,400′ ASL. To get a comparable view of Mount Baker you would have to be standing at about the elevation of the town of Glacier, but more than twice as close to Baker and with no pesky trees or hills in the way. In other words, as splendid as our Mount Baker is, there is simply no comparison to the way Rainier utterly dominates its landscape.

A hard day's work

A hard day’s work

The fellow in the picture above comes out from Olympia to be a volunteer, answering questions, giving directions and generally keeping an eye on things. When I said “So you are working today?”, he replied, “If you can call this working!” I may look into doing something like that in the Baker area – but I’m probably neither gregarious nor tactful enough for that “work”.

Part of his job was to point out to us the teentsie flecks on the ridge to the right of Rainier:

Climbers headed to Camp Muir

Those are people up there

With the help of field glasses we could see that they were climbers headed for Camp Muir, a base camp at 10,000′ ASL where they would rest up for a few hours before beginning their summit ascent in the wee hours of the morning. There were hundreds of them!

No, really

No, really!

I am saved by my advancing geezerhood and utter incapacity from having to decide between the allure of attaining that magnificent height and the horror of hobnobbing with all those people to get there.

A few more pictures:

Mount Adams peeking over Tatoosh Range

Mount Adams peeking over the Tatoosh Range

 

On Alta Vista trail - iPhone

On Alta Vista trail – iPhone

 

Vertical panorame of Narada Falls - iPhone

Vertical panorama of Narada Falls – iPhone

This last picture was a really impressive feat for the iPhone. The viewpoint was too close to the falls to capture from the top of the falls to the perpetual rainbow at the bottom. So I selected the “panorama” mode(which I had never used before), turned the phone on its side and panned from the bottom to the top. There are several reasons why this should have been a really crappy picture, not the least that the camera and the subject are both moving – and in opposite directions! It is washed out at the bottom and far from National Geographic quality (thanks to DJan for the link) but it’s not crappy.

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July 20, 2013

Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument

Filed under: Hiking — geezerwriter @ 11:25 pm

Once again, this will be mostly pictures. Friday Wanda and I drove down to Chehalis, WA by a route which was certainly the slowest possible way to get there without actually driving backwards (very much) but that’s a much longer story. This morning we left town and drove through some patented Washington fog/cloud/mist toward Mount Saint Helens to see if had changed much in the twenty years or so since we last visited. It looked like we were going to have a gloomy day studying the rocks on the ground when we suddenly punched through the top of the fog bank into a bright sunny day and were soon treated to our first of Helen herself.

First look above the fog

First look above the fog

If you look closely you can see Mount Adams just peeking over the ridge to the left of center. Adams was pretty much a twin brother of Helen before she blew her top in 1980 – both were about 12,000 feet high and symmetrically beautiful, much like the most popular views of Rainier and Baker. After blowing off the better part of a cubic mile of solid rock, Saint Helens is in the 8-9000 foot range and anything but symmetrical.

The Hummocks

The Hummocks

Our first stop was at the Hummocks, a gentle trail that winds for 2 or 3 miles through a bizarre landscape of lumpy hills that were thrown up by the violent mudflows that followed the big eruption / explosion. It is truly bizarre to walk through hills that not as old as your own daughter. I wear shirts older than this land! Near the end of the trail I began to think that the trail looked like if was following an old road and I had to mentally dope-slap myself – NOTHING is old here, Stupid!

And after this hot mud was dumped here, the Toutle River instantly began slicing through it, forming a gorge whose walls remind me of the Kulshan Caldera visible from the Ptarmigan Ridge trail in the Mount Baker area.

Toutle River carving through the Hummocks

Toutle River carving through the Hummocks

The views of Saint Helens just get better and better as you progress up the Toutle valley.

from the Toutle valley

from the Toutle valley

Another six miles up the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway is the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is a pretty popular place on a summer Saturday afternoon,

Johnston Ridge Observatory is a popular place

Johnston Ridge Observatory is a popular place

since here even auto-bound travelers can look right up into the crater and get a powerful feeling for the enormity of what happened here on that day in May 33 years ago. The numbers and measurements are so huge that, like the distances to the stars, they ultimately mean nothing. But looking at this view:

from Johnston Ridge

from Johnston Ridge

your mind’s eye can follow along the slopes of the flanks, filling in the missing part of the mountain and you can feel the scope of it in your bones. Don’t take my word for it – I like my picture but it is a pathetic substitute for the real thing.

From here you can clearly see the dome that was built in the crater during the more recent and less violent eruptions of 2004 through 2008 (and is still growing).

The dome

The dome

A couple more pictures to close the day. If you click to expand the next one (which I recommend) it might take a moment to load, since I uploaded it in its full resolution.

Panorama - Mount Adams doing a Kilroy on the left

Panorama – Mount Adams doing a Kilroy on the left

Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush

July 16, 2013

Heavenly Skyline

Filed under: Hiking — geezerwriter @ 7:43 pm

Four hikers made the long drive up Dead Horse Creek Road to attempt an early season hike to Skyline Divide. The Forest Service website said that the trail was snow-free for 1.5 miles, which would be about 1/4 mile from the ridgeline – they were off by about 1/2 mile as we hit snow that occasionally obscured the trail after a bit more that a mile. I might not have suggested the hike if they’d reported the conditions accurately but we decided that we could find it in our hearts to forgive them, since the snow was pretty manageable and the day was perfect.

Glacier lilies and Shuksan

Glacier lilies and Shuksan

I usually run off at the keyboard too much but today I think I’ll just let the pictures tell the story.

Solving the world's problems

Solving the world’s problems

After a very leisurely early lunch / discussion in a copse with a view of Church Mountain, we set off toward Mount Baker for a mile or so.

A young couple basks in the warm sunshine

A young couple basks in the warm sunshine

 

Is something moving up there?

Is something moving up there?

 

The end of a perfect day on the Divide

The end of a perfect day on the Divide

July 11, 2013

On the Keep Cool trail

Filed under: Hiking, North Cascades — geezerwriter @ 12:34 pm

I had to try a post from the wilderness. Here we are near the Tarns below Yellow Aster Butte.

20130711-123416.jpg

 

Update – later that evening

This was my first, and very possibly last, post from the wilderness on my new iPhone. I just did it because I can.  It is possible to post from here because this spot has a clear, direct view of the Mt. Baker Ski Area, which is equipped with a cell tower.

As I discussed in a previous post, I did not purchase a fancy coverage contract from AT&T but rather am buying coverage on a month-by-month or actually minute-by-minute basis from H2O Wireless. Watching my pennies, for the picture above I chose to upload the smallest version without thinking how small 300×200 pixels is. So here is a larger version so that you can see the lovely, smiling(?!) faces.

On the Keep Cool trail

On the Keep Cool trail

As usual, you can click the image to make it even LARGER!

P.S. That is Yellow Aster Butte in the background.

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