” . . . the public land endowment of the United States is one of the greatest perks of this democracy.  Rich or poor, every citizen of the United States of America has title to an area almost the size of Italy.”
— Timothy Egan, “The Geography of Nope,” The New York Times online Opinionator blog, September 27, 2012

Cascade peaks blanketed in clouds as the sun rises on Saturday morning

Every year in late September the country celebrates National Public Lands Day by offering free entrance to the national parks.  When possible, I try to take advantage of the free admission because I am frugal, and the regular cost of entry makes visiting a rare treat for me.  You may recall that two years ago, my husband and I took a road trip to Glacier National Park in Montana on National Public Lands Day.  (You can revisit those blog posts here and here and here.)

Timothy Egan, a writer whose blog I follow regularly, reminds us that our national lands are under threat by politicians, generally Republicans, who want to mine this shared inheritance for its resources and material riches.  The full article can be found at this link.  I support keeping our national parks and national lands for the general public to enjoy.  They are a rare and awesome treasure and shouldn’t be plundered.  I think a worthy goal would be to visit every national park before I die.

This past Saturday I got up very early and drove in the dark so that I could be at Sunrise on Mount Rainier in time to watch the actual sunrise at 7:07 a.m.  I had to use my windshield wipers to clear a misting rain on my way there, and I was worried that the clouds might hide the rising sun.  I arrived at Sunrise shortly after 6:00 a.m. and waited.  As dawn approached, I could see Cascade peaks blanketed in clouds all around me.  Mount Rainier itself played peek-a-boo with the clouds, revealing its snow-capped peaks and glaciers in fits and starts.  It was quite a show.  Here are some photos:

Driving to Sunrise on Mount Rainier in the dark. I saw the moon set and then waited for the sunrise.

The lightening horizon illuminates the cloudy Cascade range.

The clouds were generally thick and gray, but there were a few moments of glowing color.

Mount Rainier peeks through clouds, viewed from the parking lot at Sunrise Point.

A handful of spectators watching the sun rise at Sunrise Point.

Tree line on a distant peak, with clouds

Snowfields on Mount Rainier

View from the final approach to Sunrise on Mount Rainier

Paintbrush along the road

Mount Rainier in the early morning light as I was about to depart

Elk at the edge of the road down from Sunrise on Mount Rainier














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



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