A Wow Hike on the Flanks of Mt. Rainier

Of all the hikes I’ve done on Mt. Rainier – and there have been many I’m a local after all – this was the best – the Golden Gate and Skyline Trails on the flanks of the mountain!

It was a perfect day for a hike. We started at the Paradise Visitor Center at an elevation of 5,400 feet, then took the trail to Myrtle Falls.

From there we hiked the Golden Gate Trail through gorgeous alpine country with Mt. Rainier’s rocky face exposed more than ever before, after July’s record-breaking heat and snowmelt!

Gallery of Wildflowers

John Muir said of Paradise, ” the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain top wanderings.” Yes, indeed!

I’d heard that wildflower season was impacted by the brutal summer weather so we likely missed the peak bloom. Still, I have no complaints! Scroll through to enlarge the pictures.

Upward we Go!

As always my trusty companion led the way and I began to sing, ‘We’re on the upward trail! We’re on the upward trail! Singing, singing, everybody singing, as we go!” Unfortunately he didn’t know the song so in fact everybody didn’t sing. I’ll teach it to him later. 🙂

Past the 6,400 elevation mark we were in the land of polished rock, reminding me of the Canadian Rockies.

Here we saw our first – but definitely not our last – marmot.

As fabulous as it was the best was yet to come as we headed down to a riverbed where wildflowers grew colorful and abundant in and around the water.

When we came up out of the valley we heard the whistling of marmots and one happy fellow came out to greet us.

Gallery of Marmots

Afterwards we stopped by a waterfall to rest our weary legs and eat the rest of our snack

then into the woods where we passed another marmot.

Soon we were back at Myrtle Falls where the mountain remained shrouded in clouds.

After a few hours on the trail, 4.5 miles RT, an elevation gain over 1,000 ft., with sore feet and wobbly legs we were perfectly happy and ready to do it again next year!

Hope you enjoyed the hike! 🙂

~ Susanne

Introducing little Ben – the Tiger Cub

Wow! Five years ago we brought Benji home from Seattle Humane to be a companion for Tiger. It was a perfect choice! Benji is still a livewire – scrappy, energetic and loads of fun – while the mellow Tiger has managed to hold his own. Here’s the story from 5 years ago in case you missed it back then. 🙂

Cats and Trails and Garden Tales

Day 1  Sue here.  As I sit in my office on the third floor of our home, Tiger is relaxing  nearby.  After a final deep cleaning behind the ears (who can sleep with dirty ears?)  he’s ready to call it a day and drifts off into kittyland.

Little does he know that two levels below, there’s a little Tiger cub hiding under grandma’s bed. We visited Seattle Humane today and brought home a new kitty as a companion for Tiger. His name is Ben. Or Benji.  We’ll see what sticks.  He’s a 10 month old mini Tiger with golden almond eyes and a scruffy ear.  Brown and gray like his new big brother. He came from the home of a hoarder, where he lived with 40 other cats.  We picked him out when we saw him snuggle in the bosom of another sleeping cat.  Ah, that’s the one, we said.

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Hoping you Find the Best Place for a Catnap

Just like Benji.

~ Susanne

What’s In My Garden?


Tiger and Benji believe the backyard is their kingdom and who am I to tell them otherwise?


I dream of a world where cats and birds live together in peace. Until then I keep an eye on both.

Bees and Herbs

I’m sometimes disappointed with elements of my garden, but the bees are never disappointed with the herbs. Neither am I.


Here are a few of this year’s faithful.


Seed Heads

These seed heads belong to clematis. Aren’t they adorable?


Or should I say apple? Last year my Beni Shogun tree produced tiny apples that mostly fell to the ground. It had also grown taller and bent over so I hacked off the top and pruned it back. I love the new shape of the tree but I only got one apple this year.

Still, isn’t it a beauty? 😉

And that’s it from the garden. Sharing for Sunday Stills Photo Challenge, hosted this week by Natalie the Explorer.

~ Susanne

Sun Setting on Summer

The long and busy days of summer are waning and fall is in the air.

Smoky skies have cleared and last week’s orange sun has returned to normal.

Still no rain but that will come.

~ Susanne

Looking for Burlywood

Did you know there’s a color named burlywood?

Neither did I! So I figured I’d be hard pressed to find something for this week’s Sunday Stills Photo Challenge. But I was wrong! It was literally outside my front door.

That’s because burlywood is a medium light brown or brown sandy color. Which pretty much describes the color of my house though I’ve always thought of it as caramel and cream.

Now let’s move inside for a look at Benji who is patiently waiting.

Notice he’s back to his playful self after last week’s scare. Also notice that his beautiful belly has a hint of burlywood!

So there you have it!

By the way, in my quest to learn more about burlywood for Sunday Stills, I found out its ‘hex code’ value is deb887. And while I barely know what that means – it’s related to the red, blue and green components – I was able to use the information to create the custom color heading above in burlywood. Cool, huh?

Never let it be said you never learn anything on this blog. 😉

~ Susanne

The Dahlia and the Hummer

I’ve been watching a new dahlia in my garden open up this week.

It’s still not fully open –

but this little hummer didn’t seem to mind.

Sharing with Cee’s Flower of the Day.

~ Susanne

The Dreaded Trip to the Vet!

Dreaded by me not Benji as cats don’t dread, they just live in the moment.

I had to take him to the vet today after a worrisome week. On Monday night I caught him wheezing. The next day he came in late, completely lethargic. I feared the worst (an unfortunate habit of mine) having lost a dear kitty to heart failure some years ago, where the end was respiratory distress.

Thankfully the wheezing was short lived but the lethargy was not. He was not at all himself for the next couple of days. And then I noticed a small matted spot on his belly that he didn’t want me to touch – a puncture wound of some sort I thought.

Today was the earliest I could get him in so that would have to do. But this morning rolled around and wouldn’t you know it? – the spring was back in his step! Regardless, I planned to keep the appointment at noon – already confirmed – and I still worried about the wheezing.

So why the dread? Getting him there of course – I’d rather go to the dentist! Okay, not really, nothing compares to that!

But it’s not easy. It normally takes two of us to wrestle a cat into the carrier and Bob wasn’t available to help – I would have to do it alone.

How was I going to get Benji into that box?

I tiptoed around all morning with the planning and Benji obliged by sleeping quietly on the bed, blissfully unaware.

First I sprayed Feliway – a natural cat pheromone product – into the box. This would help calm him. Then as the time approached I moved the carrier closer to him but still out of sight – if he saw it, game over. I turned out the light and went to where he lay, sweet talking to him as he awoke. Then I gently picked him up and walked backwards toward the box and before he knew what happened he was in it. Hooray! The hard part was over!

After a short ride in the car with only a few pitiful cries from the back we arrived at the vet’s for his exam. Oh what a good kitty he was though scared out of his wits!

He was a gentleman in the office, no fighting or crying, just eyes wide open as he frantically looked for someplace to hide. I petted him as they poked and prodded, wishing I could explain! It wasn’t long before he was released for the drive back home – no need to coax him into the box for that, it was his new favorite place.

The good news is that the blood test ruled out heart trouble and anything else more serious. The vet agreed the lethargy was likely due to the small wound and after it ruptured Benji felt much better. I’ll continue to monitor any wheezing, sneezing or coughing, which is probably due to allergies or asthma. With heart trouble ruled out, we could safely try steroids if necessary.

So all’s well that ends well. Benji is happily resting in his garden bed and has forgiven me – knowing I was trying to help him feel better.

And now I’ll go rest too. 🙂

~ Susanne and Benji

I’m Singing and Hiking in the Rain!

After 51 days straight without any measurable precipitation we finally had rain in Seattle, and I said bring it on!

To celebrate this first rainy day of summer we went for a hike in the woods at Kanaskat-Palmer State Park, with a smile on our face and a happy refrain!

So for this week’s Sunday Stills challenge I’m sharing our hike with a sound track of ‘Singin’ in the Rain.’ The lyrics, written by Arthur Freed, were immortalized in the movie classic of the same name. The iconic scene with Gene Kelly joyously singing and dancing in the rain remains a favorite of mine since childhood.

“I’m singin’ in the rain

just singin’ in the rain,

what a glorious feeling

I’m happy again!”

Arthur Freed

Our walk ‘down the lane’ was fresh and green, the full fragrance of the forest released by the rain, after being pent up by weeks of drought.

“Let the stormy clouds chase everyone from the place

Come on with the rain I’ve a smile on my face.”

Arthur Freed

And so it was that at the end of that magnificent walk in the woods we had the Green River all to ourselves.

And while we enjoyed a few days of rain it has no intention of staying around – temperatures will climb into the nineties by the end of the week. Still we have the memories, as well as the certainty that by November the rain will return bringing many opportunities for more singing and hiking in the rain. 🙂

~ Susanne

Happy International Cat Day 2020!

In case you missed it – August 8th is International Cat Day! And it’s already August 8th somewhere so let the celebration begin in 2021!

Cats and Trails and Garden Tales

“Well it’s been quite a year so far, huh boys? But today we’re going to put that all aside – it’s time to celebrate you! So put on your best face for International Cat Day!”

“Didn’t we celebrate that already?” asked Tiger.

“No no,” I replied. “You must be thinking of National Pet Day.”

“Okay. Whatever you say. How’s this?”

“Hmm, caught you with your eyes closed. Let’s try again. With a little more enthusiasm.”

“Sorry Sue. Here you go.”

“Beautiful Tiger! Thank you.”


“How’s this for enthusiasm?” he said.

“You got it Benji!”

“You boys are the best!

Happy International Cat Day!”

~ Susanne, Tiger and Benji

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