Another one of my favorite sunrise/sunset destinations. I hiked up in the evening to the summit of the peak and wondered at views of not only Rainier, but also Adams and St Helens. The wildfires to the west made the sunset a red dot one, but still awesome. I woke up the next morning to a huge lenticular cloud hovering over Rainier and quickly got busy taking photos. Also spotted a mom bear and two cubs on the switchback trail to Pinnacle Saddle. They disappeared as the more hikers arrived, but I warned everyone anyway. Back at my car, time to load up and get out of the area as literally hundreds of cars streamed into the park.
Ended up back at Fremont Lookout last night figuring that the Hawks game would keep traffic down a bit. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that judging from the Seahawks decorations on all the lifted trucks and so on, it would probably be a good time to be out hiking.
The sunset did look promising, with some wispy clouds in the skies. Parking lot was pretty much empty when we arrived at 7pm. Trail is very dry and dusty, and wildflowers are starting to line the path, but not enough to lure the selfie stick crowd off trail.
Beautiful night for hiking and photography…These are mostly Zeiss 50mm and 100-300mm 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.
With a busy weekend coming up and a forecast for mostly rain and some snow, I decided to slip down to Stevens Canyon Road and scout around a bit for shots. The road was supposed to open on Friday so I was really eager to get on it and see how things looked. I really prefer the 410 approach as I find Puyallup and Meridian to be depressing in a sociological sense. I like the drive through Enumclaw, stopping for some coffee, getting supplies and gas at Safeway and then slowly approaching my favorite parts of MRNP via 410 and breathing easier with every mile.
I sidetracked up to Tipsoo to see how the lake was melting out. Rainier itself was in the clouds and the lake showed a lot of promise. Then down 123 to the Entrance at Grove of the Patriarchs. To make a longer story shorter, I drove around Stevens Canyon Road until about 7pm, watching clouds fly by, occasional snow flurries, some rain, but never a really clear shot of the mountain.
Brief glimpse of Rainier amongst fast-moving clouds. Zeiss 85mm Otus
The Castle, along the Tatoosh Range. Zeiss 100-300mm
Stevens Canyon Ridge Details. Zeiss 100-300mm
Driving back to Seattle, a lot of traffic was heading out of town. After about an hour on I-5, any sense of backcountry relaxation was gone. I meandered along in the slow lane, watching others soar by. Passing through the city, my mellow self was giving way to the irritated, curmudgeonly Seattle native in me.