Sunday, July 29, 2007
Grand Park, Mt. Rainier
Yesterday was the perfect day for a hike:
not too hot, small tufts of clouds drifing
across the sky. Nelson, Paul and I met my
brother Jim and his wife Mary just outside
of Enumclaw, wedged ourselves into the back
seat of his truck, and continued on up
towards Mt. Rainier, turning off a few
miles up the road. After about 20 minutes
of deep potholes, gravel and gradually
increasing cliffs out the windows, we parked
and started up the back way to Grand Park
via Lake Eleanor. Snows having just melted,
we encountered many swampy pathways,
sludgy mud sucking at our boots. Flies
and mosquitos were omnipresent; luckily
J. and M. brought along various incarnations
of bug juice, and we just about dipped
ourselves in it. Believe me, if there had
been vats of Deet we wouldn't have hesitated
to dunk.... Three miles, mostly up,
through conifer forest and meadow where
Indian paintbrush bloomed. I wish I'd had
an alpine flower guide! The colors were
glorious in the sun -- a kind of purple daisy
was abundant. We trudged and trudged up
and up, each step becoming more grueling
as the mosquitos flew up nostrils, into mouths
and eyes, and flies circled and circled our heads
with their relentless bzzzzz.....finally,
after nearly throwing in the shoe, we reached
the big meadow which is Grand Park, and which
seems to stretch forever into the distance.
Mt. Rainier sits at its south end as if
plunked down there in all its glacial glory.
Remants of a 1966 forest fire are evident
in the silver snags scattered about.
We lunched on a fallen log which turned out
to be a flourishing ant colony -- this discovered
when our meal was nearly finished. Nelson
was sitting smack in the middle of the insect activity!
We were so hungry, thirsty and just plain
worn out that we took no notice.
After sufficient rest, we began the trek
down, saying goodbye to wildflowers
and one helluva view of "the mountain,"
which was definitely out.