Thursday, September 1, 2011

These Flip Flops Were Made For Walkin

Posted by Amy Baranski
Mr. Rainier.

Mt. Rainier was spectacular, although it was hard to tell, at times, if our younger traveling companions enjoyed it as much.

We somehow got out the door by 8:30 a.m. and made our way towards Enumclaw--the gateway to the Northern entrances of Mt. Rainier National Park. The car ride was not without protest and a pit-stop for snacks and coffee, when it was discovered that Lily had not packed any shoes, she had just walked out of the building in her slippers. Oh, the look on Melissa's face was priceless. We later found that Lily's feet fit my flip-flops, which became her footwear.

Fears of Death

On the way up, Levi riddled us with questions about volcanoes and earthquakes. I threw in tsunamis to add to his list of worries. At one point he asked (after a series questions about the macabre):
"How would you feel if you knew the world was going to end in ten minutes?" this point....happy.

Of course, Mt. Rainier features signs that say camp at your own risk due to geologic activity. Too bad Levi can read.

And then there were the bears. Most of our passengers expressed their fears about bears. Signs indicated that aggressive bears had been reported in the area. Fortunately, sitings were closer to Glacier Basin camp, a few miles up from our spot at White River. But in the car ride, anxiety was high.

White River Campground

Lodge at Sunrise Point.

Once to the campground we found the best spot: D29. It sits above the frigid White River with a view of Rainier. Stone steps lead from the parking area into the camp's "master suite". It's only drawback is the wind.

Levi pouted feeling that the site was not "campy" enough. He later changed his mind. "This is way more campy. What happened.

"The  previous night's occupants were about to leave in 30 minutes. So we stuck our reservation tab on the sign and headed ten miles up the mountain to Sunrise Point.

The kids we all: What are we doing? Where are we going? Why? Why?

Sunrise has a snack bar with ice cream. We thought we'd reward them with a treat.

They totally didn't believe us.

Sunrise Point

On our drive, Lupine and Indian Paintbrush dressed the subapline meadows in hues of purple and magenta. The clouds began to lift as the car wound higher and higher.

Sunrise Point has a lodge and visitor's center with geologic and wildlife information. They offer guided tours and there are several trail heads to explore. We waited and waited for the final cloud to clear the peak so we could get that one perfect, unobstructed view.

At the lodge we ordered ice cream. See, we weren't lying.

We adults had Rainier.

Back at Camp

It was time to set up the tents and get organized. I set up Lily and her friend Lily's tent. Then, on to my own. In fact, I've never set the tent up by myself before, so I felt very accomplished. Melissa set up her tent and we worked on Joyce's--Melissa's mom--together.

During which this time, the very people, so frightened about bears mauling and eating them, sauntered around camp shoving handfuls of chips in their mouths, leaving a Hansel and Gretel-style trail of crumbs in their wake.

White River.
On to Hiking

Once everything was set up it was time to take on a hike. Levi would have much rather started a fire, Tallulah just plain didn't want to do it (though later found herself having favorite parts) and the Lilys...well they were both wearing flip-flops and wanted to go swimming in a lake we had previously seen.

Finally everyone got on the trail. The ranger had suggested the Emmon's Morraine trail as a good hike for families. And, it is. It was only .9 miles to the fork where you grab another trail, .5 miles to the viewpoint. The trail head was 20 yards from our campsite. But Lord, did that feel like the longest trail ever. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. I mean, the kids just were not into it. Or were they? I just don't know.

Every ten yards Lily was like: We're HERE! This is a  GREAT viewpoint now let's turn around. The other Lily was convinced we had gone at LEAST two miles and had missed the second trail. Tallulah was tired and hungry and just couldn't go on, but OK she's little. And I can't remember what Levi was saying. I think I've blocked that out.

The trail is well maintained and wide. It offers beautiful vistas, crosses waterfalls, and is full of visual interest throughout.

A turquoise lake.
At one point through the trees we spotted a turquoise lake. How splendid.

Once we finally found the fork and the trail to the viewpoint we got out of the woodsy part and crossed the White River. We ambled our way up what felt like a donkey trail and gain a teeny tiny bit of elevation with more views of the turquoise lake and Emmons glacier.

Joyce and I went on a bit further beyond the maintained trail...but turned around after we heard Levi yelling at the top of his lungs. When we got back there was more chatter, this time about it being Cougar time. And yes, we were all a bit hungry.

On the way back we ran into Ranger Sara Yates. She was hiking solo and on her way to Glacier Basin camp because she was on BEAR patrol. Lucky gal. We asked here what were three things we should know about bears and hiking/camping in bear country. She said:

1. Never let them in your food.
2. If you encounter a bear, be calm and make yourself seem big.
3. Always make a lot of noise on the trail.

We had that last part definitely covered.

Back to Camp
We finally made it back to camp...and it was time to light the fire. Again, this is something I haven't really done on my own and I did it!

We roasted potatoes, corn, hot dogs, and marshmallows! The kids seemed to be having a great time. We were all a bit cold though.

It was finally time to turn in. The Lilys were NOT going to sleep in their tent (which I had set up) because they were afraid of being alone. So, Melissa ended up having four kids crammed in her tent.

I slept poorly and woke up in the morning to the crackle of campfire and the mountains shrouded in clouds.

Levi builds a cairn.
Building Cairns

After breakfast and breaking camp we met the kids down by the river. They were rock hopping and building cairns. It was very peaceful with the sound of the river and the sun intermittently breaking through the clouds.

We had originally intended to do another hike but we felt tired and worn and decided not to. It was time for lunch. Levi really did not want to go, and boy did he let his Mom know that. After much protestation we piled in the car and headed back.

I could tell you about the car ride back but I've already gone on for WAY too long here. It was great to get outside and see some of the beautiful parts of Washington. I'm glad Melissa picked backpacking/hiking month.

1 comment:

Bob Redmond said...

NIce photos Amy! That trip sounds epic, very Calvin-and-Hobbes. And the scenery makes the north cascades seem almost wimpy!