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

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

Green over Blue in the Pacific Northwest

A Saturday and I woke up feeling kind of blue.  Needed some green for the cure and so we hit the road heading east looking for it.  After thirty minutes or so, traffic slowed and cars lined the road on the approach to Rattlesnake Lake.  Oh!  It’s a Saturday in summer and everyone is out.  Further up the road we find the Cedar River Watershed Education Center nestled on the shores of the lake.  No crowds here and we enjoy great views of Rattlesnake Ledge above, in relative quiet and safely on the ground,

rather than with the hoards of brave hikers perched precariously at the top.

A nice stop but on we go to the nearby and lesser traveled Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie where Bob knows the best places to hike and cast his fly rod into the river.

We arrive at our destination and enjoy a short walk through the woods to the footbridge.

On the other side, Bob finds a perfect spot to cast his line and has the river all to himself.

I walk the trail nearby, enjoying the beauty of the river and mountains and every green thing. Happy.

The great thing about carrying a camera is you look more closely at the world around you and see things you never noticed before; like this tiny starry plant (or is it lichen or moss?) growing everywhere on the side of the trail, so delicate yet hardy at the same time, and in various shades of green.

I must have passed it by many times over the years, but today I saw it. Touched it. Marveled at it.  A good day.

~  Susanne

Sunrise and Sunset on the Oregon Coast

I simply can’t let it go.  The Oregon Coast I mean.  Now that I’m home and unloading my pictures I see all that beauty again and so please bear with me, while I post a few more photos, this time focused on sunrise and sunset.

Sunrise first at Florence over the Siuslaw River, the only one I caught as I am not an early riser.  Maybe I should be.

Sunsets come more easily as they don’t require I get up at 5:30.  I’m actually looking forward to winter just so I can see the sun rise at a decent hour. An earlier sunset wouldn’t be bad either.

This rather mellow sunset was at Bandon.

And this one at Lincoln City.

Sigh.

And to all a good night.

~  Susanne

Postcards from the Oregon Coast

Highway 101 on the Oregon Coast: wild and rugged beaches, capes and bluffs, sea stacks where nesting birds make their homes, ancient volcanic rock with fanciful shapes and names, strewn along offshore, all preserved and available to the public thanks to Oregon’s early conservationists. Sprinkled along the way are charming towns, fishing villages, and lighthouses shining as beacons; what’s not to like?

We were happy to be able to explore the Oregon Coast this week for the umpteenth time, for we are neighbors to the north in Washington, and this is the one place Oregon has us beat.  (True. Seattle beats Portland.  Rainier beats Hood.  We share the Columbia.  Oregon wins for best coast.)

Here’s a sampling of what we enjoyed.

We headed south from Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River, which dates back to the 1805 Lewis and Clark expedition.

Further down we had lunch at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City.

We always stop and shop in the tiny town of Wheeler…

and in Old Town Florence.

We had to stop by the largest coastal sand dunes in North America, the Oregon Dunes which run from Florence to Coos Bay. (That’s not us on the bikes but we wish it was.)

We went as far south as Bandon on this trip and marveled at the rock formations offshore.  Face Rock gazes heavenward.

The wind was blowing with gale force in Bandon and we loved watching the powerful waves crash into the rocks and jetties where a lighthouse stood nearby.

Now I will leave you with the sun setting on the Pacific Ocean from the balcony at our hotel in Lincoln City, where it just so happens we stayed on our honeymoon almost 35 years ago.

Postcards from the Oregon Coast. We will be back.

Susanne

Scenes from the Oregon Coast

I woke up this morning in Florence on the Oregon Coast, arguably one of the most beautiful and accessible coastlines in America, if not the world. The past few days were overcast but the amazing sunrise over the Siuslaw River heralded a change in weather for the remaining days of our trip.

Next up were the Oregon Dunes which run from Florence to Coos Bay along the central coast.  We stopped to admire the mountains of ancient golden sand and breathe in the fresh ocean air scented with forest.

And now onward to Bandon under sunny skies.  I will share more pictures of the beautiful Pacific coast beaches in the next post.  Until then here is a picture of Cannon Beach from a few days ago just before it was swallowed up in clouds.

The dog (not ours) didn’t seem to mind.

Susanne