Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rampart Ridge

 The morning after the longest day of the year--and I mean that literally,  not figuratively--we woke to a yummy camp breakfast of hot cocoa, eggs and potatoes on the Coleman stove and scones.  Then we packed up a lunch and loaded into the car to drive up, up, up to Rampart Ridge.  We caught our first glimpse of Rainier on our drive up.  We were blessed with gorgeous blue skies and temps in the upper sixties/low seventies--perfect for hiking!  We were also blessed by good friends who drove out to meet us for the hike.  Ezra was overjoyed to have one of his besties along.  Skittles and Gatorade, baby, the fuel of champions!  It must work,  because these guys were so far ahead of me I rarely saw them. 
 See those beautiful grasses behind Nora?  They cost quite a bit to buy at a nursery and plant amongst landscaping.  Miss P and I were contemplating the consequences of digging up nature from a National Park and taking it home to our gardens....not worth it : )
 This picture demonstrates the hand-me-down line : )  In fact--the shirt Caroline has on in this photo followed that hand-me-down line.  We love being the beneficiaries of P and M hand-me-downs!

 The view of the mountain after the 1300 feet of elevation gain.  "Punishing switch backs" might be an accurate description of that first part of the hike. 

 These little birds were quite bold as they hung around waiting for the crumbs from our mountain top lunch.
 And this brave creature found a new flavor of gourmet donut--powdered sugar cake donut with queso dip.  Voo Doo?  Top Pot?  Anyone?  It's a revolutionary new flavor!

When I took the picture of this little Chipmunk, I thought I was photographing a Pika.  But upon googling, I believe that a Pika looks a bit more like a mouse.  We were told by a very friendly Park Ranger that we would probably see and hear Pika on the trail.  We did hear them, but I don't think I actually saw any. 

 Downhill is always a favorite for the young--and dreaded for those of us with older knees--and giant bulging bellies that wish to propel us forward at a much more rapid rate than we wish to go!
 You can see the Longmire Lodge down below--that's where we started. 
 Oops--some out of order photos back from the top.  Mr. L has his binos out (I know cool military/spy speak since I'm such a cool Mom, dontcha know) so that he can look at the climbers working from Camp Muir to the Summit of Rainier.  You could just barely see them with the naked eye once you knew where to look.  Summiting Rainier was once a goal of mine....well before I became a Mom.  It's not for the faint of heart, I hear. Now I'm  happy just to summit Mt. Laundry once or twice a week here at home.  That's not for the faint of heart either.  I would like to hike to Camp Muir someday when none of our kids needs to ride in a back pack.  That might be close enough for me to reaching my youthful goals.  And maybe it will inspire one of my kiddos to go allllll the way to the top someday. 
 A cloud cap on Mt. Rainier is supposed to signal rain for the following day.  In this case, it was correct.  Praise the Lord the bulk of the rain waited until just minutes after we finished breaking down camp and closed the doors of the van to drive away the next morning!  It's been raining hard off and on ever since then. 

 That group of hikers behind me is hiking the Rampart Loop the opposite direction as us.  They were high fiving everyone as we went down the path--I'm sure you know who would have NOTHING to do with high fiving a stranger. 
 Poor Tadd.  We used to trade off with Nora in the back pack, but for obvious reasons I can't take a turn these days.  His back suffers the consequences quite royally.  So do his ears.  Nora is still Mama's girl and when we hit nap time she is NOT happy to be with anyone but me.  The rest of us get to hear her screaming as well, but none so loudly as Daddy.
 See the demoralized looks on faces here?  We reached a road that we needed to cross and it wasn't totally obvious where we should go.  At this moment we were thinking that we might have taken a wrong turn and come 1.7 miles downhill....and that we might have to go BACK UP to get to where we needed to go.  NO Thank You!  We were quite wrong.  We just needed to cross the street and continue on to the Longmire Lodge where we started.

Nora finally fell asleep for the last twenty minutes of the hike.

 When we made it back to the Longmire Lodge we got ourselves some well earned ice cream and sat down to eat it and gaze up at that jagged cliff that we had previously been on top of.  Hiking feels so good when you're done.  Then L & P headed home and we headed back to camp for a supper of hot soup and corn bread and s'mores over the fire one last time.  We had much fun on this camping/hiking trip and I'm so glad that we were able to go.  I do believe that we (or at least I) am done with more intense hikes and any sort of camping for this summer.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Grove of the Patriarchs

 After we got our tents set up and camp set in an orderly manner, we headed off for the Grove of the Patriarchs.  It's more of a nature walk than a hike.  Right off we found a path to wander down to the banks of the Ohanapecosh River.  This river is goooorgeous!  It's direct snow melt/glacier run off--so it's freezing.  But unlike most glacial melt rivers which are cloudy (according to the signs) the Ohanapecosh is pure, clear and turquoise.  The color is just breath taking.
 The kids climbed the fallen timber and threw rocks to their hearts' delight. 

 Daddy vs. Ezra aim contest--throwing rocks, that is.

 There was some pretty cool looking moss, lichen and the like.  This looked like sea weed to me.

 Picture posed at Tadd's request.

 We noticed --after the kids all started running across the suspension bridge-- a sign that said "one person at a time on the bridge"--oops!
 Too bad for the man who got caught in the middle of our group.  He had one kid standing at one end and one at the other and both were jumping as hard as they could to see how much they could shake the bridge. 

 The view when I looked up. 
 Close up of a tree.
 I must say that we didn't fit in on this particular walk very well.  We had too many kids, for one thing.  And they all insisted on touching nature--the audacity!

 Tadd tried his best to fit in with the rest of the walkers.
 And here ya go Megan--proof that I am indeed, pregnant.  Running out of room and still two months to go--yikes!

 Kids just don't need any toys when they have trees, dirt and cousins to play with. 
You just have to make sure no one is looking when you touch the trees : )