Always Take the Long Way Home

Boy, am I glad that we decided to make a loop out of our trip from Narada Falls to Reflection Lake and back to the car even though it was a further.  Paradise Creek lived up to its name with falls

after falls,

after falls,

with peek-a-boo closeups of Mt Rainier.

Hard to imagine a better way to end a day that managed to get even better with a meal at the Wildberry Cafe.

Add A Little of This and That

We finally spotted a few wildflowers after we began our return to Narada Falls.  As we approached tree-line, we saw a few of these purple flowers still blooming.

I spotted an Osprey flying over Reflection Lake, and Paul spotted this Red-Breasted Nuthatch.

The only other birds we sighted were “Robber Jays,” now known officially as Canada Jays, which greeted us several times looking for handouts.  They made their official visits, however,  when we stopped for lunch.

The two gray blurs in this shot are Canada Jays diving after the trail mix Leslie held in her hand.

They were far too close, and too fast, to catch in flight, so I settled for this shot of one taking a cracker from Les.

It’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of Mt Rainier towering in the distance, but experiencing nature up close adds a whole other dimension to Wilderness.

Narada Falls to Reflection Lake

On Thursday we headed out to walk another stretch of the Wonderland Trail, from Narada Falls to Reflection Lake. It was overcast and a little cool when we started, but it still offered some beautiful scenery from the overlook.

and it’s hard to imagine a more inspiring place to start a hike than at Narada Falls.

Most of the hike up to Reflection Lake was in deep forest, so it didn’t really matter if it was overcast or clear.  

Very few flowers grow in the Northwest’s old-growth forests, but mushrooms seem to thrive on the litter and decaying trees that are part of a mature forest. If I had stopped to take photos of every mushroom I saw I would have never kept up with Leslie and Paul so I focused on the biggest

and most

 interesting mushrooms.  

At first glance, these looked like bright red flowers, but they turned out to be some kind of small red berry.

It was a bit of an uphill slog, but the climb seemed more than worth it when we reached Reflection Lake, 

our turn-around point.  

Carter Falls, Mt. Rainier

Last Thursday we went for another hike in Mt Rainier National Park.  Although we only caught a brief glimpse of the mountain peak this time,

the Carter Fall section of the Wonderland Trail is still quite beautiful.

Crossing the Nisqually River on a log bridge is always exciting. Even though it is probably as wide as a normal hallway, it never seems that wide when there’s a river rushing below you.

Although the trail was never as steep as the surrounding peaks would suggest,

it was a steady uphill climb as we followed a small creek up the mountain.

The highlight of this section of the Wonderland Trail is Carter Falls, 

but there is a whole series of smaller falls that are also quite delightful and provide natural air-conditioning.

I was too winded to get a shot on the climb up the trail, but since it was an up-and-back trail, not a loop, this shot of Leslie and Paul walking down the trail suggests the steady, uphill incline .

Even though I prefer loop trails where you constantly see new things, I saw things going downhill that I’d missed on the way up the trail, like this huge boulder that diverted the creek.