Narada Falls to Reflection Lake

We took our fifth hike of the season on Mt. Rainier two days before we left for Colorado to visit Tyson’s family before Logan left for Montana State and the girls started back to school.  I’d hoped to post it before we left but was too busy packing to finish until we returned. This hike was nearly the same as our hike from Narada Falls to Paradise, but in the reverse direction so we didn’t have to finish with the steep climb at the end of the trip.  I hoped that a strenuous hike at this altitude would help prepare me for Colorado’s altitude.

I’ll spare you pictures of the first half of the hike since they’re not as good as those in previous posts and they’re not as striking as this shot of Reflection Lake.

Though the Avalanche Lilies were mostly gone, there was still lots of Paintbrushes 

Fireweed,

and various white flowers, adorned by various butterflies.

Leslie wanted to repeat this trip so that Kylan could see the remarkable views, and he had lots of time to enjoy them while waiting for us to catch up with him.

The trail wasn’t a lot easier from the other direction, but the pain was eased by occasional glimpses of Tiger Lilies on the trail

and views of Mt. Rainier through breaks in the trees as we descended back to Narada Falls.

In retrospect, perhaps we should have been hiking a little higher up the mountain to really get ready for Colorado, but if we had done so I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much as I did.  Hiking Mt. Rainier is definitely my favorite way of getting in better shape.

Sunrise Rim Trail

After four weeks of hiking around Mt. Rainier, I thought we were ready to tackle the Sunrise Rim Trail,  probably my favorite hike on Mt. Rainier because of its views, like this one taken halfway up the steep climb from the visitors’ center to the trail.  

Once to the top of the ridge you get some impressive views looking north —  and down. On a clearer day you can see Mt. Baker from here.

We didn’t see Mt. Baker, but we did spot something even more exciting, a Mountain Goat resting halfway down the cliff, the first we have ever seen here.

It was quite dry and dusty on the trail, but the slopes were covered with flowers galore!

There were also quite a few butterflies, but this was the only one that stopped long enough for me to get a shot of it.

We followed the Wonderland Trail back to the parking lot and managed to get a very different view of the mountain.

It’s a challenging hike for me, but it’s worth the effort because hiking here feels like Cloud Heaven!

Narada Falls to Paradise

For our third hike on Mt. Rainier, we returned to the south side of the mountain and walked from Narada Falls to Paradise.  I knew it was going to be a great day when we were greeted by these brilliant paintbrush framed by lush, green foliage.

The first third of the hike follows Paradise River as it tumbles down the mountain.

Although much of the trail goes through heavy forest, the occasional meadows were covered in Avalanche Lilies.

This was the first time we actually saw Mt. Rainier in our three weeks of hiking on the mountain, and, luckily, the trail led directly to the mountain.

Since the Narada Falls to Paradise trail is relatively short, we decided to make a loop of it and cut over to Reflection Lake and go back down the Wonderland Trail to Narada Falls.  What I didn’t account for was a fairly high ridge between the two trails. We ended up walking five and a half miles with more elevation gain, and loss, than we’ve had so far this year.

The view from the bottom of Narada Falls almost made up for the extra mileage, 

but my knees said otherwise as we climbed up the steep trail leading to the parking area.  Worst of all, I made the mistake of stopping too long to take pictures of the falls, and my heart didn’t want to pick up the pace as I started back up the trail (time to ask my cardiologist if I really need the metoprolol).  

Sheep Lake Trail

Kylan joined us on our second Mt. Rainier jaunt, but he was so far ahead most of the time that I only got this shot of him, Paul, and Leslie when we discovered we were heading in the wrong direction, which wasn’t all bad because it led to a pretty viewpoint and added a mile to our hike.

We try to explore new trails while also pushing ourselves a little harder on each hike.  The Sheep Lake trail is an easy to moderate hike that wasn’t supposed to be as crowded as other hikes we’ve been on recently, but the parking lot was nearly full and there was a large group of youngsters the day we visited.  

Despite the grey skies, it was warmer on the east side of the mountains, which the flowers seemed to appreciate more than I did.  There were lots of flowers like these deep red paintbrush

and this exquisite yellow flower.

We had lunch on the far side of the Sheep Lake but still couldn’t avoid the noise from the kids squealing while swimming in what must have been an extremely cold lake.

Apparently, the Gray Jays preferred our company to the rambunctious kids since they dropped by just as we were finishing lunch.

We talked about climbing to the top of a ridge further on the trail,

but it was a cloudy day and a long way to the top, so we thought it would be wiser to save that hike when we were in a little better shape and we could get a better view of Mt. Rainier when we reached the pass.  

Instead, we settled for a walk back down the flower-covered ridge,

immersed in a different kind of beauty.