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:


Reflection of Mount Rainier in Tipsoo Lake




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.



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.



Pedestrian walk signal

Pedestrian walk signal

“A walk is not a parade or a race.  It’s a succession of instants, any one of which can illuminate a lifetime.”
—  John Baxter, The Most Beautiful Walk in the World:  A Pedestrian in Paris

City walks and nature hikes.  Each a succession of instants.  Each can be a source of illumination.

Hiking the naches Peak Loop Trail near Mount Rainier

Hiking the Naches Peak Loop Trail near Mount Rainier

View of Cascade Mountains and Dewey lake from Naches Peak Loop Trail

View of Cascade Mountains and Dewey Lake from Naches Peak Loop Trail


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:



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


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















Hiking Amidst Wildflowers

September 1, 2010

The Naches Peak Loop trail edged by wildflowers

My husband and I revisited another of my favorite hikes, the Naches Peak Loop trail by Chinook Pass in the Cascade Mountains.  The last time I hiked here, a few years ago, it was a sunny day and we were treated to awesome views of neighboring Mount Rainier.  This year, it was clear when we left Seattle, but the clouds were rolling in by the time we got to the trailhead.  We hiked in the clouds and couldn’t see Mount Rainier from the trail.  But the wildflowers were in bloom, and they made this hike worthwhile.

View of Mount Rainier from Hwy 410, as we drive to the trailhead.

The clouds were already rolling in on the slopes of Mount Rainier.

Signpost on the Naches Peak Loop trail near Chinook Pass

One of the tiny lakes just off the trail

Another small mountain lake along the Naches Peak Loop trail

Small stream cuts through a valley along the trail

Silhouette of my husband on the trail

The clouds roll in as we loop around Naches Peak.

The trees trap the moisture from the air.

Wildflowers along the trail

Crimson columbine


Western anemone



Wildflowers by Tipsoo Lake