About Susanne Swanson

After years of working in accounting and technology where rules are clear and numbers add up I bring this blog to you from the other side where roads are meant to be traveled, memories like flowers unfurl slowly and cats have been known to talk.

A Northwest Hike to Twin Falls

I follow the trail to Twin Falls along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River, leaving Bob behind to fish. There are enough hikers on the trail for me to feel safe hiking alone and few enough to provide me with the solitude I need. I revel in having time in the woods, enjoying the nuanced shades of green, the ferns, the Doug-firs, and moss covered maples.

The river flows nearby the trailhead and I find hidden pools where some are brave enough to swim (not me.)

Half way to the falls I stop to rest and take in the view,

then continue on, following the switchbacks upward.

Up, up, up I go and as I near the falls, I’m greeted by a group of happy campers, who assure me I’m almost there and high five my efforts.  I’m cheered by the friendly youngsters.

Around the corner I arrive at the bridge and have it all to myself.  It’s high above the falls and makes me woozy looking down so I don’t linger long.  It’s the journey anyway, not the destination.

Going down is easier and I encourage the tired ones coming up.  Yes, it’s worth it, I say.  You are almost there.

At the bottom again I find out Bob has caught two trout.

We both leave content.

~ Susanne

A Fruitful Summer Day in the Garden

Endless sunny days and so far I have worked very little in the garden.  Things grow and produce despite my neglect, but still it’s time for some maintenance.  Even an hour or two will accomplish a lot.

First, the Strawberries

Although I’ve been harvesting them for a month I still see a few stragglers remaining.  I always imagine they are anxiously waiting for me to come pick them, afraid of being left behind.

“I’m here, ” they call out.  “Don’t forget me.  I’m juicy and red.  Look just under the leaves and you will see me.”

I did and found many more than I expected.

Next up, the weeds

Once in the garden I see more work to be done and tackle the most glaring and obvious: the tallest of the weeds to be pulled, the volunteers to be moved or disposed of, the empty spots to be filled in.  The dahlias I planted last year didn’t come up again so I pulled the weeds that had taken their place.  This opened up a spot for a zealous rose and traveling lavender, both of which had sprung up unbidden nearby.  They earned it!

The Pollinators

Some of the work is best left to others, the pollinators for instance.  The bees busily worked the lavender like those on a mission but still left something behind for the moth.

The blooming and the ripening

I wander about the garden, stopping here and there to admire the flowers

and anticipate the promise to come; the ripening of these tomatoes for instance,

and biting down on one of these apples in the fall, the first I have ever grown.

And don’t forget to pet the cat

And what’s time spent in the garden without a furry friend?  Invariably I am joined by one or the other of my two cats who follows along and begs my attention.  I always oblige. Today it was the handsome Tiger.

A cool drink and it’s time to go.

A day well spent in the garden.

~ Susanne

The Many Faces of Mt Rainier, or 4th of July Part 2

In the last post I told you of our 4th of July adventure at Mt Rainier National Park, which included a ridge hike at Sunrise and a forest hike through the Grove of the Patriarchs on the Ohanapecosh River.   I will complete the story with the second half of our day and a much shorter but lovely walk at Box Canyon and a stop by one of the most famous views of the Mountain at Reflection Lakes.

After our hike at the Grove, we continued south and west on the Stevens Canyon Road.  Neither of us can remember taking this way before so we enjoyed fresh and new vistas of Mt Rainier.  Oh yes we did!

Box Canyon

Here we stopped to walk the short trail to view the deep canyon carved by the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River. The area also reveals what is left behind when a glacier retreats:  polished slabs of rock where lichens and mosses slowly take root, eventually decomposing into soil to support new forest.    Brilliant blue delphiniums also blanketed the area.

It’s hard to realize the depth here, but the rushing water is 180 feet below.

Continuing on the Stevens Canyon road, we were led to the beautiful sub alpine Reflection Lake, which proved true to its name.

After a full day, we exited through Longmire on the southwest side of the mountain, passed through small towns on our way home watching the firework displays around us, and eventually settled for our final picture of Mt. Rainier under sunset hues.

Home again, home again.

~ Susanne

Sunrise at Mt Rainier

Sunrise at Mt. Rainier but no need to get up early for I speak of the Sunrise side of the Mountain and not the time of day!  I hope you are not tired of Mt Rainier but the 4th of July proved a perfect time to visit again while others swarmed more local parks below for firework displays. This may have been one of our best trips ever, as we covered more of the Park in a single day, enjoying 3 short but amazing hikes and incredible views of the mountain from all sides.

Normally we take the southwest entrance at Longmire into the National Park as it’s open year round. But this time we entered on the northeast side at the White River entrance headed for Sunrise, and it turns out, many new vistas!

We got our first surprise at an overlook where we had great views of the lesser known, but equally beautiful Mt. Adams.  The poor thing came up short as the second highest mountain in the state at 12,281 feet and so lives in the shadow of its more famous neighbor. It’s not easy being number 2.  Still isn’t it a beauty?

Sunrise

We arrived at the Sunrise Visitor Center at 6,400 feet, the highest point in the Park reachable by car. Here we found close up views of Emmons Glacier, the largest American glacier outside of Alaska, and source of the White River.

Of the many hikes available in the area we chose the 2 mile Silver Forest Trail, with continuous views of the mountain and meadows full of wildflowers, all under brilliant sunshine.  It didn’t seem fair to get so much for so little effort!

After lunch we headed down towards Stevens Canyon and the Grove of the Patriarchs for an easy hike through old growth forest.   The trail took us along the Ohanapecosh River and across a suspension bridge (one at a time, according to the sign.)

After a short walk on the other side, we were in an island of ancient Western red-cedar, Douglas-fir, and Western hemlock, some of them, a thousand years old.  We walked quietly among these giants, marveling at their size and beauty.

After leaving the trail, we continued on Stevens Canyon Road, stopping by Box Canyon and beautiful Reflection Lakes.  But this is running long so I will save that for Part 2 of my 4th of July Rainier adventures.

See you soon.

~  Susanne

The Handsome Benji

Benji, I said.  You look so reflective today.  What’s on your mind? 

Well, he replied.  Today I was thinking that I have probably stopped growing.  I will never be big like Tiger. And more than that.  I thought my ear would grow back but it hasn’t.  I will always be different.

Oh Benji, I replied. You are wrong about the ear.  It’s part of your story and makes you, YOU!  Honestly, I have never seen a more handsome cat!  (But don’t tell Tiger I said so.)

Thank you, Sue, he said.  I will try to believe it.

I will believe for you, I said.

~ Susanne