Life, Poetry, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing Inspiration

Marvelous Mountains and Marmots

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Hello Readers, Writers, and Nature Lovers!
Summer is winding to a close, and taking with it chances to explore the outdoors before school begins again. The Clare family decided to seize the sunshine last week and explore one of my favorite places in Washington—Mt. Rainier National Park. 

This isn’t the first visit to Rainer that I’ve shared, but with travel still a challenge, a trip outdoors with all of you seemed like a good choice. Also, on this visit we hit the peak of the wildflower season and were treated to views of some of Rainier’s natural residents.

Once again, we entered Rainier through the Nisqually entrance to the south and headed for the wildflower fields of Paradise.  Is it any wonder that Martha Longmire—one of the early residents of the area—chose the word “paradise” to describe this place?

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Pictures can’t really capture the carpets of purple lupine, magenta paintbrush, yellow arnica…and all of the rest. Even the white American bistort flowers—nicknamed “stinky socks flowers” for their pungent smell—were gorgeous. (We enjoyed “daring” each other to smell the bistort. The facial expressions were fantastic.)

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Clusters of Avalanche Lilies decorated the edges of the trail.

We took a side trail off of the secondary parking area, hoping to avoid crowds and to find some wildlife. Within 5 minutes, our choice was rewarded!

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We named this Hoary Marmot “Chuck.” Apparently, it approved, spending a long time foraging and posing for us.

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Wildlife is always a good incentive to get kids to hike happily, even in high elevations. Onward and upward we went. While we didn’t see anything of the mountain’s larger mammals, there was still plenty to see.

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I believe this is a sooty grouse. Sitting right next to the trail, she held still, relying on her natural camoflage. It almost worked—if not for my kids’ sharp eyes, I would have passed by! Below, golden-mantled ground squirrels are always good for a cute picture.

A short walk off the main trail onto the Moraine Trail took us closer to views of the mountain’s ice and snow. It was lovely to hear nothing but the far off rush of water.

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AND the side trail also took us nearer to more marmots! Four (or more) scampred around the stony meadows. One was busy digging a winter burrow—marmots are year-round residents in the alpine regions, even bearing their young in their winter burrows. We wondered if the smaller marmots in this spot were the past spring’s babies.

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This fella was busy sunning himself back along the main trail. 

At 14,410 feet, Rainier is the tallest mountain in the Cascades, but the surrounding peaks are still quite impressive.

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Mount Adams (12,280 ft.) raises its snowy head to the south, the peak a bit like a lesser version of Ranier’s.

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Around the time we reached the view of Adams, the kids’ feet were ready for a rest. We headed downhill—the easier direction in theory, though I discovered that giving a 6-year-old a piggy back ride down hill is still a challenge if the slope is steep enough!

We headed home with one more stop: Reflection Lakes. The wind and fish jumping for insects ruffled the water, distorting the reflections but not diminishing the spot’s beauty.

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What about you—do you have any end-of-summer travels planned, or beautiful places you’ve found to enjoy if you’re not travelling just now?

Thanks to my husband and one of our young family photographers for sharing these images, and thank YOU for coming along—I hope you enjoyed the trip!

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14 thoughts on “Marvelous Mountains and Marmots”

  1. Those photos are spectacular. My oh my, what a wonderful place. The sunbathing marmots! Grouse! And of course, I love the wildflowers. I went on a hike there once with friends, 25 or more years ago; I remember it was lovely, but I hadn’t really gotten “into” wildflowers yet. Thank you so much for this.

    Liked by 1 person

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