I put out a late notice for this ride, and I'm not surprised to find no one could make it. But for all of you who didn't...especially bob wells
, it was great.
And this will give the rest of you an idea of what to see if you're here...in late summer...not when Arnie Solof (from BurgmanUSA) came from New Jersey and found only rain and fog. Speaking of which, I think we have finally had enough hours of over 80F to qualify for at least one day of summer. BTW, I apologize for the length of this in advance. But I did want to share a wonderful trip.
I had thought about going to Tipsoo Lake and the hike around Naches Peak, but also of including Sunrise. However, I got a later start than planned. It was worth more to me to go to the Men's Group at church in the morning at 8am and leave hopefully soon after 9am, than to hit the road at 8am. As it turned out, I didn't actually get off till 10...and as it turned out, that was perfect.
The problem with going to places like this south of Seattle is you have to spend an hour on the freeway to get to where Dave_J lives in Auburn. There's nothing fun about the freeway. The 07+ 400 does fine on the freeway, but that's boring compared to what you know you'll see. So after an hour, I was in Auburn and on Hwy 18.
There are two interesting things about Mt. Rainier to me. One, it dominates the skyline. I can see it clearly (well, when the sky is clear!) when I get off the freeway near Boeing Field on the final stretch to work each morning. I'm probably 65 miles from it as the crow flies, yet it stands out dominating everything around it. By the way, if you ever hear of Mt. Rainier erupting as Mt. St. Helens did a few years back...you can say good bye in your thoughts to any of us in Seattle, Tacoma, or Olympia and anywhere in between. What Mt. St. Helens did, would be small change in comparison. All our major peaks are still active volcanoes.
The other thing about Mt. Rainier is that it seems the closer you get to it, the harder it is to see. To a point anyway. From Auburn, I pulled off the road and took this picture. (It also gave me a chance to quit following this large truck with a partial load of dumpsters.) It's typical of living anywhere in this area. The view of Mt. Rainier...not the truck with dumpsters!
While places like Colorado also have 14,000 foot mountains, those cities start out at 5000 feet above sea level. You can drive to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain. (I did that in my 66 VW Beetle as it turned over 100,000 miles!) The rest of the Cascades are relatively as high compared to the cities where the population lives at around 7000 feet...and then there are the major peaks like Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood that stick up 5000 to 7000 feet above even those. You can not drive to the top of any of those mountains. So to me, the mountains here are very special.
After about an hour more of riding in forests, I got this chance to see Mt. Rainier up close. I have no idea what the thing in front of it is. My daughter thought it looked like a caldera. It's not, but it is unusual.
Being a scooter ride, I had to get in a couple photos of Deborah, my 2008 Burgman 400, in all its glory. There's a couple motorcycle riders heading off in the distance towards a turn marked with one of those signs that says you need to slow down to 20 mph...because you're going to turn all the way around. The second picture is taken from across the road. I'm not sure which is more beautiful...Mt. Rainier in the distance hidden by the foothills...or my Burgman 400.
I finally got to Tipsoo Lake and parked near the trail head. The lake is right next to the road, and beautiful to look at, even when driving by.
The Naches Peak Loop trail heads around the lake on the left, crosses the road, then goes around the hill in the back of that picture above. Total distance is about 3.5 miles.
I picked absolutely the right time to go. Mountain meadows have very short growing seasons, and our snows lingered much longer than usual. But what this meant is the wild flowers that would've normally been in bloom a month or more earlier...were now in bloom. You'll see some pictures with the wild flowers below. It is hard to describe how beautiful they are, but hopefully you'll get an idea. In a week or two, the flowers will all be gone.
Wild flowers in the foreground of Naches Peak and Tipsoo Lake
Another view of Tipsoo Lake from above.
A closeup of some of the wildflowers. My wife wanted this for a Windows Desktop background.
On this next picture, I've walked along the back side of Naches Peak. You can see the road cutting across the hillside well over a mile away. I couldn't hear any cars...but I could hear the Harleys and other cruisers with loud pipes. It didn't sound like music to my ears.
On the back side (east side) of Naches Peak, there was quite a bit of snow still left. In places, if you slipped, you'd go sliding quite a ways before coming to an abrupt stop.
Much of the trail looked like this.
I stopped to eat lunch here...till the mosquitoes drove me away. It seems like they also wanted lunch. I was sitting in the middle of a small stream that was cutting beneath the snow pack below.
So I picked up my rucksack and headed over the ridge below.
I was looking only for something like a large rock to sit on to eat lunch. The meadows are so fragile that if you walk on them, you will likely kill the plant you stepped on and make a permanent trail. So you can imagine my surprise when I stepped over a small hill on the trail and came upon this small pond.
Some older ladies were coming down from the rocks I'd spied, and gave me some insect repellent. Between that and the nice breeze coming up from the valley, I had an enjoyable lunch where I could look out and just soak it all in. These next three pictures are looking from the left of where I sat around to the right.
There is beauty in some of the most unlikely places. Here on this large 20-30 foot rock I ate lunch on, are some wildflowers that have found enough dirt to grown in.
Here are some red flowers. I think they are Indian Paintbrush. None of the red flowers in any of the pictures I took, were in focus. It is like the camera just wouldn't recognize them like it did everything else.
Some shots of the trail...
The Pacific Crest Trail connects through this portion of the trail.
The trail guides all recommend making the loop trail in a clockwise direction so you finish looking at Mt. Rainier, instead of having it to your back. This is one of those scenes like you see on postcards.
Some more wild flowers. A line from The Sound of Music
went through my head. "The hills are a blaze..."
Almost back and about to descend...
Mt. Adams in the background.
I stopped here for a while to just soak it all in and give thanks for being able to do this. The beauty in creation is just awe inspiring. It was incredibly quite. I heard a hawk or an eagle cry out, and saw a butterfly below. And all I could hear was just the sound of the wind passing through the trees. No traffic. No nothing. Just stillness. Just Peace.
Everything does come to an end though, and I still had a three hour ride back home. So I took a couple more photos at a place where I could pull over before putting The Mountain behind me and home before me.
BTW, in those pictures, there's a really nice looking stout wall there at the edge before it drops off. Well, in most of the places, there was no wall...just the dropoff.
All in all, it was one of those days that makes you feel glad to be alive. There's something wonderful about riding a motorcycle that makes you feel a part of every nuance in the road and the area you're passing through. For some, the ride is the destination. I like to do things like this where the ride is the destination...but at the end of the ride is a special destination as well.
It was rather long, but I hope you enjoyed it. And if you're ever out here...in the summer...late summer, actually...perhaps I can ride along with you to some of these places.