Sunrise at Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park

Sunrise at Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park

We continued our exploration of national parks with a road trip to Mount Rainier.  We had to hit the road at 4:30 a.m. in order to arrive at Sunrise for the sunrise at 6:50 a.m.  Our timing was perfect, and we pulled into the Sunrise viewpoint with two minutes to spare!

Sunrise at Sunrise

Sunrise at Sunrise

View of Mount Adams in the distance

View of Mount Adams in the distance

We breakfasted with a picnic in the brisk, clear air — hard-boiled eggs, small tomatoes, pre-cooked bacon, cheese slices, rice crackers, mango juice.  Snow-capped Mount Rainier loomed over our picnic table.  Then we drove to the Naches Peak Loop Trailhead where we stepped out for an early morning hike.

“I could walk forever with beauty.  Our steps are not measured in miles but in the amount of time we are pulled forward by awe.”
— Terry Tempest Williams, The Hour of Land

Here are some photos from the trail:

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Reflection of Mount Rainier in Tipsoo Lake

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Dewey Lake in the distance

Dewey Lake in the distance

And finally, we ended our visit to Mount Rainier with a gondola ride up Crystal Mountain where we had lunch at the Summit Restaurant.  We sat on the outside patio in the blazing sun so that we could enjoy the view.

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Summit of Crystal Mountain

Summit of Crystal Mountain

Gray jays

Gray jays

Mount Rainier from the Summit Restaurant at Crystal Mountain

Mount Rainier from the Summit Restaurant at Crystal Mountain

Our visit to Mount Rainier National Park was about as perfect as we could have wished.

 

 

A Cathedral of Anticipation

September 15, 2014

Watching the sunrise at Sunrise Point, Mount Rainier

Watching the sunrise at Sunrise Point, Mount Rainier

“But a summer morning when the sky first glows is a cathedral of anticipation.”
— Verlyn Klinkenborg, The Rural Life

Cascade Mountains from Sunrise

Cascade Mountains from Sunrise

Cascading Cascade Mountains at dawn near Sunrise, Mount Rainier

Cascading Cascade Mountains at dawn near Sunrise, Mount Rainier

Early morning departure.  Driving in the dark.  Arriving at Sunrise Point on Mount Rainier just in time to watch the sun rise over the Cascade Mountains.  Clear skies at dawn.  It’s worth sacrificing sleep to experience this glory even without the drama of illuminated clouds.

Tree Walk at Seward Park

September 8, 2014

Seward Park, Seattle

Seward Park, Seattle

“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.”
— Karle Wilson Baker, from 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts by R. J. Palacio

Earlier this summer when I walked the perimeter of Seattle, I passed by Seward Park without taking the time to explore it.  So I returned on Friday to see what this popular city park was all about and to walk the 2+ mile road edging the “peninsula” that juts into Lake Washington.  The city of Seattle has published a “Tree Walk at Seward Park,” and with this printout I set out to identify some of the magnificent trees in the park.  Let me take you along on my jaunt through Seward Park.

View of Mount Rainier across lake Washington from Seward Park

View of Mount Rainier across lake Washington from Seward Park

Row of Bolleana Poplars along the parking lot

Row of Bolleana Poplars along the parking lot

Leaves of the Bolleana Poplar

Leaves of the Bolleana Poplar

Garry Oak

Garry Oak

Leaves of Garry Oak

Leaves of Garry Oak

Spider web

Spider web

Madrona bark.  According to the city brochure, "Seward Park is home to Seattle's largest collection of Madrona trees.

Madrona bark. According to the city brochure, “Seward Park is home to Seattle’s largest collection of Madrona trees.

Another Madrona with peeling bark.  Madronas are native to the Pacific Northwest.

Another Madrona with peeling bark. Madronas are native to the Pacific Northwest.

Most of the trees in Seward Park are native Douglas Fir trees.

Most of the trees in Seward Park are native Douglas Fir trees.

The cones of the Douglas Fir have dragon-tongue-like protrusions jutting out from the cone bracts.

The cones of the Douglas Fir have dragon-tongue-like protrusions jutting out from the cone bracts.

Sketch of Douglas Fir cone

Sketch of Douglas Fir cone

Leaves and acrons from Northern Red Oak

Leaves and acorns from Northern Red Oak

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Threadleaf Falsecypress

Threadleaf Falsecypress

Traffic circle at Seward Park

Traffic circle at Seward Park

Blue Atlas Cedar

Blue Atlas Cedar

The clusters of the Blue Atlas Cedar look like spiky beads on a bracelet

The clusters of the Blue Atlas Cedar look like spiky beads on a bracelet

Coastal Redwoods

Coastal Redwoods

Leaf litter beneath the Coastal Redwoods

Leaf litter beneath the Coastal Redwoods

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Port Orford Cedar

Port Orford Cedar

Trail through the trees, Seward Park

Trail through the trees, Seward Park

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Off Trail

April 28, 2014

National Poetry Month. 28

Hiker dwarfed by Mount Rainier

Hiker dwarfed by Mount Rainier

Off the Trail
by Gary Snyder

We are free to find our own way
Over rocks — through the trees —
Where there are no trails.  The ridge and the forest
Present themselves to our eyes and feet
Which decide for themselves
In their old learned wisdom of doing
Where the wild will take us.  We have
Been here before.  It’s more intimate somehow
Than walking the paths that lay out some route
That you stick to.
All paths are possible, many will work,
Being blocked is its own kind of pleasure,
Getting through is a joy, the side-trips
And detours show down logs and flowers.
The deer paths straight up, the squirrel tracks
Across, the outcroppings lead us on over.
Resting on treetrunks,
Stepping out on the bedrock, angling and eyeing
Both making choices — now parting our ways —
And later rejoin: I’m right, you’re right,
We come out together.  Mattake, “Pine Mushroom,”
Heaves at the base of a stump.  The dense matted floor
Of Red Fir needles and twigs.  This is wild!
We laugh, wild for sure,
Because no place is more than another,
All places total,
And our ankles, knees, shoulders &
Haunches know right where they are.
Recall how the Dao De
Jing puts it:  the trail’s not the way.
No path will get you there, we’re off the trail,
You and I, and we chose it!  Our trips out of doors
Through the years have been practice
For this ramble together,
Deep in the mountains
Side by side,
Over the rocks, through the trees.

 

Wildflowers in the alpine meadows at Sunrise, Mount Rainier

Wildflowers in the alpine meadows at Sunrise, Mount Rainier

It was early in the season for hiking at Mount Rainier — the trails were still covered with snow patches — but the wildflowers were in bloom.  That spectacle alone made the day trip worth while.  Enjoy!

Magenta Indian Paintbrush dotted the ditches along the road to Sunrise

Magenta Indian Paintbrush dotted the ditches along the road to Sunrise

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Western anemones

Western anemones

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Lupines

Lupines

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Bear grass

Bear grass

I think these are yellow avalanche lilies

I think these are yellow avalanche lilies

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Avalance lilies.  They simply carpeted the forest floor along a trail near Tipsoo Lake.

Avalanche lilies. They simply carpeted the forest floor along a trail near Tipsoo Lake.

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Avalanche lilies (sometimes I can salvage a blurry photo by editing it using a posterized effect)

Avalanche lilies (sometimes I can salvage a blurry photo by editing it using a posterized effect)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of Mount Rainier from the terrace of the Summit House Restaurant at Crystal Mountain Resort

View of Mount Rainier from the terrace of the Summit House Restaurant at Crystal Mountain Resort

This post calls to mind Katsushika Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, his series of woodblock prints.  Mount Rainier has a similar pull on artists.  For example, Tacoma woodblock artist, Chandler O’Leary, created her own limited edition fine art book with views of Mount Rainier — it’s called Local Conditions.

On a recent clear summer day, I took my niece on a drive to Mount Rainier.  The air was calm and clear, so our views of Mount Rainier were spectacular.  We enjoyed the golden glow of the peak at sunrise at Sunrise, distant views from the road, reflected views in Tipsoo Lake, and a high view from the Summit House Restaurant at Crystal Mountain Resort (accessible by gondola ride).  I had also just seen a high altitude view from my airplane window when I was returning from Minnesota.  Let me share these views of Mount Rainier here:

Floating in the clouds, Mount Rainier from an airplane window

Floating in the clouds, Mount Rainier from an airplane window

Gold-tinted mountain at sunrise from Sunrise Point, Mount Rainier National Park

Gold-tinted mountain at sunrise from Sunrise Point, Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier with alpine flowers, Sunrise

Mount Rainier with alpine flowers, Sunrise

View of Mount Rainier with White River from Crystal Mountain Resort

View of Mount Rainier with White River from Crystal Mountain Resort

Mount Rainier reflected in Tipsoo Lake

Mount Rainier reflected in Tipsoo Lake

“The mountains are playing at standing on their heads, and their reflections are even lovelier than the reality.  The water’s depth and mystery impart vibrancy to the images, and the trembling of the surface conjures visions at the edge of a dream.”
— Sylvain Tesson, The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gray Jay along the Naches Peak Loop Trail

The gray jays along the Naches Peak Loop Trail were seemingly undaunted by hikers on the trail.  A couple settled within a yard of me, perched in nearby trees.  Lucky I had my camera already in my hand — chance favors the prepared mind!  Gray jays have been getting too friendly, and Mount Rainier National Park has a “Keep Wildlife Wild” program to address the issue.

Gray Jay

Gray Jay perched on fir

Watercolor sketch of gray jay

 

 

Wildflowers Near Mount Rainier

September 14, 2012

Beargrass in the meadow by Tipsoo Lake near Chinook Pass

The wildflowers are definitely one of the highlights of hiking the Naches Peak Loop Trail near Chinook Pass on Hwy 410.  They peak in late summer, so this is still a great time to go and see them.  Here are some photos of the wildflowers I saw along the trail:

Beargrass

Paintbrush

I believe this is rosy spirea.

And I believe this shrub is mountain ash.

Mountain ash with Mount Rainier

The colorful red berries of mountain ash

Meadows with Queen Anne’s Lace and lupine, among other wildflowers

Lupine

Foliage of lupine

I am not sure what this is — perhaps yellow dot saxifrage or slender mountain sandwort? Does anyone know?

It looks like this shrub is growing matchsticks!

Possibly Cascade penstemon?

Pen and ink sketches of wildflowers from my Moleskin journal

Watercolor sketch of magenta paintbrush

Another watercolor sketch of paintbrush

 

 

Mount Rainier reflected in Tipsoo Lake near Chinook Pass on Hwy 410

I just had to take advantage of these last sunny days of summer to head to the mountains for a day hike.  I love the Naches Peak Loop Trail for its stupendous views of Mount Rainier and its wildflowers as the trail meanders past several tiny sub-alpine lakes.  This is an easy hike.  Heading out on the trail just ahead of me was a family with a toddler in a backpack and a two-week old baby in a sling.  I parked in the lot by Tipsoo Lake and headed clockwise up the trail so that I would have Mount Rainier in full view for the last part of the hike.

Here are some photos:

 

The sub-alpine meadows are studded with beargrass.

Tall trees with long shadows cast by the morning sun.

Lush green along melting rivulets

Beargrass and Queen Anne’s Lace with the Cascades in the background

The trail passes along several small lakes

Shards of ice and ground frost in the shady stretches of the trail

Busy bees, butterflies and birds along the trail

Tree silhouettes

Looking down on Dewey Lake from the Naches Peak Loop Trail

The Cascade Mountains with cascading blues

If you walk the trail clockwise, you’ll have this view of Mount Rainier on the latter part of the loop hike.

The trail passes yet another lake.

A weathered snag

The final stretch, heading back to Tipsoo Lake

Trail sign with Mount Rainier on the horizon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Cities have always offered anonymity, variety, and conjunction, qualities best basked in by walking:  one does not have to go into the bakery or the fortune-teller’s, only to know that one might.  A city always contains more than any inhabitant can know, and a great city always makes the unknown and the possible spurs to the imagination.”
— Rebecca Solnit, A History of Walking

Today I attended a workshop at the Seattle Public Library downtown, and I decided I would walk from my house.  It’s only 5-1/2 miles, but I had never before walked downtown to work.  I chose a direct route down Eastlake Avenue, which parallels the east shore of Lake Union.  The street does not run right along the water, but I got brief views at each intersection, where I could see down to the lake.  It was a clear, sunny day, but I walked on the shady side of the street and did not get too hot.

Here are some of the things I saw along the way:

Crossing I-5 on 45th Street NE. Heavy traffic going into downtown.

On clear days, Mount Rainier dominates the horizon.

Statue of Sadako and the thousand origami cranes near the University Bridge

After crossing the University Bridge, I could smell fresh bread from this bakery.

Rolled croissants, ready to rise

Fresh baguettes, Le Fournil Bakery

I kept passing these sidewalk plaques on Eastlake Ave E. They showed various microorganisms native to Lake Union. I learned later that they are the creation of artist Stacy Levy.

"The Vessel" by Ed Carpenter, a sculpture at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, South Lake Union

Reflections on the sidewalk from The Vessel sculpture

One of the figures from Akio Takamon's "Three Women" sculpture outside Whole Foods Market, South Lake Union

I arrived downtown after walking two hours.  I had an hour before my workshop started, so I decided to check out the Chihuly glass installations in public locations in downtown Seattle.

Persian glass installation by Dale Chihuly, on the mezzanine of the City Centre building on 5th Avenue

Detail from glass installation at City Centre

An installation of Flower Forms in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel

Detail of Chihuly's Flower Forms, Sheraton Hotel

One of two glass chandeliers by Dale Chihuly in Benaroya Hall

"Crystal Cascade" chandelier by Dale Chihuly

Detail of glass chandelier at Benaroya Hall

All too soon, it was time to report to work at the library.

Seattle Public Library, Central Branch downtown Seattle, designed by Rem Koolhaas

Interior, Seattle Public Library

Escalator, Seattle Public Library

Another escalator, Seattle Public Library