I love this trail. Its short and sweet, does a nice loop back to the parking lot and has tons of wildflowers and mountain scenery. The lupine is strong now, especially up by the tarn on the south side of the loop. Lupine is also filling in around the Tipsoo lakes as well. Lots of hikers today of all sorts, everyone enjoying the weather and the flowers. Car-camped and then headed over to Paradise for morning flower shots.
I hadn’t been back to Spray Park in a few years and my hiking friend had never been so we decided to head up there for some flower photography. The road up is what it is…dusty and potholes. Parking at the trailhead was busy and lots of hikers going off in every direction. The trail itself is in great shape and once you reach the meadows, carpets of lupine and paintbrush are everywhere. We heard of bears and cubs but didnt see any. Bugs were a lot less of an bother than in recent years. My hat, pack and pants were marinated in Sawyers 20% picaridin.
Anyway, the scenery was just gorgeous in every way. Well worth the hike up. If you want sunset light, you are hiking out by headlamp. Got back to the trailhead in about an hour and savored blackberry pie (pie goddess in enumclaw) and heated seats 🙂
On a side note, we ran into a group of tourists back in the parking lot at 1130 pm who were wondering where they could drive up to and see the mountain. I explained this is one of the more remote access points to the park and they needed to get back on 410 and find Sunrise and or Paradise. I highly recommend more research before you set off in your rental car down miles of dusty logging road in the middle of the night with the entire extended family in the car…..
Following up on this, I got a nice comment on WTA.org about their situation:
“We pulled into the Mowich parking lot right about the time you were talking to that group…They had stopped us on the road to the lake about halfway up and asked if there was a “city” at the end of it with a hotel to stay at. We’d tried to deter them from continuing further but to no avail. I hope they found somewhere safe to stay…and had enough gas to get there. Pretty baffling, especially that late at night! We thought you were being really kind and patient with them, and appreciated the good info you gave them regarding other areas of the park they might want to try…in daylight.
A bit of timelapse video from a recent visit to Lake Tipsoo. Nicely thawing out as you can see. Sony a7r II and Zeiss 16-35mm
So I got back from going down to Rainier Friday night to see how the lakes were thawing. Turns out they are amazing so I will be going back down next week early for some sunrise. Highlights of the Friday the 13th trip:
– Leaving at 1pm wasn’t early enough – still bad traffic down 167
– Lots of people in the park
– I get to Reflection Lakes and they appear mostly frozen but a few thawed spots. I hike out to one and get some nice shots. I see this guy watching me and sure enough once I get back to the road he pounces with all these questions ie Is it safe? (maybe) Did you get a reflection? (yes). You can tell he’s been studying this situation for about an hour or more.
– I drive down to the Snow Lake trailhead and two guys are parked there happily smoking. Turns out they are from the South. Of course, who else smokes in the park? 🙂
– I hike out to the lake in my Sorels. There is no trail but some faint bootprints. I eventually find my way and the lake is gorgeous. I stay til sunset and get some great shots. I wander over through the brush to this 1000 foot sheer drop and get some nice shots but kinda regret the risk. I also manage to butt dial my sister which is surprising that I got cell reception and hearing her voice from my pocket was funny.
– I decide to hike back before its pitch black even though I have my headlamp. My route goes straight up this steep hill but I find my way. I punch through some snow and land in a creek but am still dry. I find this steep trail down to the road and it works.
– Driving back down out of the park I run into these two kids hiking back in darkness. The girl has made a crutch out of a stick since she sprained her ankle. I gave them a ride to their car at Longmire.
– Driving past Alder at 60-ish mph, a deer wanders onto the road. I manage to swerve and miss it.
– Driving through Spanaway and Parkland – what a twilight zone of crushed dreams 🙂
whew…home at 1130
I drove down to Rainier, leaving at 3am to see how the sunrise reflections were coming together. The Reflection Lakes are nice, but Bench Lake is a bit of a rarer treat because of the short hike required to get there. The question is how are the water levels? Usually by late July, a sliver of a shoreline has revealed itself.
Yesterday however, no such luck. But having driven so far, I took off my shoes and socks and waded to the spot I wanted for this shot. Surprisingly, it was refreshing, not breathtakingly cold 🙂