Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Mowich and Eunice Lakes, Tolmie Lookout, MRNP

Summertime brings hordes of people and mosquitoes to several areas of Mt. Rainier. Fran and I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather last weekend, and the fact that the gate to Mowich Lake is still closed and that mosquitoes aren’t out yet. We backpacked from Paul Peak parking lot up to Mowich Lake on Friday night and camped there, with only 2 other groups. In the summertime this place is a madhouse and I would never, ever stay there.

Early Saturday morning we woke up to gorgeous sunny skies, had coffee/tea and oatmeal, and headed out to Eunice Lake and the Tolmie lookout tower. There should be several feet of snow still covering everything up there, but it was 99.9% snow-free the entire way. Beautiful, but kind of scary also to see the lack of snow cover, makes me wonder what this summer is going to be like. We had the Tolmie lookout tower entirely to ourselves, and had a wonderful picnic lunch up there while enjoying one of the best views to be had of Mt. Rainier.  After wandering around Eunice Lake and enjoying the wonderful geography and cliffs, we headed back to our campsite.

We were lucky to be packing up camp just as a ranger was heading back down the hill, and were able to hitch a ride with him back to our car parked 5 miles down the road. Being up there without the summer crowds and with no mosquitoes was a treat!!!

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Owyhigh Lakes, MRNP

I can’t believe I’ve never hiked to this little gem of a basin before.  The Owyhigh Lakes trail starts from the road to White River campground and winds its way up through forest for a few miles before breaking out into a beautiful basin with 2 little lakes. Snow is melted off at least a month earlier than normal this year, and a few wildflowers were starting to show, though in a couple of weeks it will be a riot of wildflower colors up here.  This is definitely going to be worth checking out again in a couple of weeks!

Veratrum (false hellebore)

Veratrum (false hellebore)

Lupine almost ready to bloom

Lupine almost ready to bloom

Paintbrush

Paintbrush

Viola

Viola

Lupine just starting to bloom

Lupine just starting to bloom

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Skookum Flats, Mt. Rainier

Let’s talk surgery first, then we’ll get into the Skookum Flats hike.  Apparently my name should have been Humpty Dumpty, because I keep falling apart.  I found out less than a month ago that I had grade 4 (a.k.a. bone-on-bone) arthritis of my right shoulder AC joint, so last Tuesday my most-wonderful orthopedic surgeon put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  I had an open distal clavicle excision and acromioplasty. Apparently other body parts were jealous that my knees were getting all the attention, and they decided to very vocally express themselves.  Surgery is done, healing is going freakishly quick, sutures are out, and I feel wonderful now…

So, on to Skookum Flats trail.  I needed a not-so-steep trail since I can’t yet use hiking poles with my right shoulder. Skookum Flats was a perfect post-op hike, mostly flat, beautiful deep forest, and of course I hit my favorite wildflowers at their peak.  Everywhere I looked there were trillium, calypso orchids, mahonia, skunk cabbage in full bloom. I hiked a wonderful, flat 6 miles on a gorgeous sunny day, and only saw 3 other people the whole time.  Skookum Falls still had a decent amount of water, which was nice considering how unseasonably warm it is and our lack of snow pack this winter.

Nature therapy is the best rehab out there, I got to check another trail off my list, and I got to see some of my favorite native wildflowers.

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