Well, we're back at it. Mike's new hiking shoes appear to be working magic, and we are once again enjoying long hiking days. And just in time to enjoy what surely must be one of the most gorgeous days Mount Rainier has seen this summer. The photo above was taken yesterday toward the end of the Lakes Trail out of Paradise Visitors Center in the SW section of the park, hiking counter clockwise. Just like the ranger we spoke with promised, everyone else appeared to make a beeline for the uber-popular Skyline Trail, while we had the equally fabulous Lake Trail practically to ourselves.
It's been our experience that even in the most crowded parks, if we stay away from the most popular trails, or get onto them early in the morning, we can usually hike away from the crowds within just a couple of miles.
But back to the Lake Trail hike. What a gorgeous, gorgeous trail, and how fortunate we felt to be hiking it. Every time we thought we'd reached the max of what nature had to offer up, we'd turn a corner, and a new vista would appear that would knock our socks off all over again. Here is my best attempt at documenting what we saw as we went along, though they all fall far, far short of the real thing.
Because our first day of hiking had been so unbelievable, we actually had low expectations for our second hiking day. So that fact that this hike delighted us to our cores was particularly sweet. Our route, again counter clockwise from the Sunrise Visitors Center, took us to Frozen Lake, surrounded on one side by a glacier, to the base of a tremendous glacier, then through a section of barren scree, before dropping us into a flower filled meadow that wandered past a lake before returning to the Visitors Center.
I love the feeling of being spent after a vigorous hike. It's akin to the way I used to feel when getting home from work,, other than the complete and total absence of stress. It's the best feeling in the world, and always sets me up for a completely satisfying remainder of the day.
Sidebar comment: Actually, it's very different from when I used to get home from work those last few years. Instead of feeling brain dead and exhausted, I feel relaxed and invigorated. Big, big difference.
Our stay here at Packwood RV Park has been very pleasant. I wasn't sure about this park at first, the only one I booked on this trip that had less than steller online reviews, and rolling into it on Sunday was initially of some concern. The sites were basically spread helter skelter across a dirt and grass open area, and the bathrooms looked really rundown. However, the owners had added WiFi since we booked, the other RV'ers appear to be super friendly, the showers are good and hot, and we got to see elk wandering through the RV park almost every day. Plus, we can see Mt. Rainier from our site. Turned out not to be such a bad place after all!
|This is from the RV park's website - I couldn't get to my own camera quick enough to snap a photo.|
Rain is projected to roll in tonight, so we've packed away all of our outdoor items to make tomorrow's breakdown as easy as possible. We're off to Portland, Oregon in the morning, where the Columbia River Gorge, the city of Portland, and Bob Lowry of Satisfying Retirement await.