Mt. Rainier Again

This weekend we went back to Mt. Rainier, but this time we went to the other side of the mountain to explore. Six of us (Me, Nick, Carolyn, and the interns Susie, Teandra, and Ben), left early Saturday morning and drove first to the White River Campground to claim a spot, and then to Sunrise, where there was a large parking lot, ranger station, and the head of many trails. We hiked up Sunrise by Frozen Lake, and then up through the Burroughs, then back down through Shadow Lake. In all, it was about 6 miles of hiking. The country was beautiful, we got some fantastic pictures, and we had a lot of fun sliding down the snow. The hike was training for our trip to Mt. St. Helens in early September, which will be almost twice as long. I carried along my loaded backpack to make it tougher, but by the end I was doing ok. I think St. Helens won’t be so bad, and I’m excited about it.

Once we finished the hike, we had a quick snack and some water, then went back to the campground. Carolyn made a great dinner of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. After that we started a fire and made some smores. It was still light out, so Nick and Carolyn stayed behind to watch the fire and sleep, and the rest of us went down to White River to explore. The river was amazing. There had been some record flooding, and the river bed was in ruins. There were trees felled everywhere, the river had changed course many times in only a few days and was changing even as we were there. We could hear the rocks moving in the river, which was a silky chocolaty color from the dirt. The water levels around a boulder would rise and fall within minutes as rocks moved and changed the course of the river. A rock that I had been standing on was soon under a couple inches of water. The banks were very fragile and a few times we found ourselves scampering underneath crumbling earth to avoid being swallowed in the powerful river. It was very cool. We returned as it started to get dark and got ready for bed. A few hands of a card game later, we all went to bed.

On Friday night I had danced from 8pm to 1am. I had woken at 6am on Saturday, hiked at least 7 miles that day, and was going to bed at 11pm. I should have been exhausted. I should have been able to sleep. Unfortunately, neither happened.

I was up bright and early on Sunday, helped Nick and Carolyn make breakfast before the others were up. We had blueberry pancakes and sausage, then cleaned up. We went back to the river to explore some more and had some fun playing in the rocks and watching the river eat them. Then we returned to the cars and drove to Boulder Cave. The cave was formed when water eroded softer rock underneath some basalt and the basalt collapsed under its own weight, making a wedge shaped cave. It wasn’t a long tunnel; perhaps a couple hundred yards at the longest, but it was still pretty neat. We got back to the cars and continued the journey, stopping in Naches for some fresh fruit, and again at the Darigold factory to see the huge vats and taste the cheese and get shakes. I finally got home at about 5 on Sunday. Oddly enough, I still wasn’t tired, and didn’t get to bed until 1:30am. Odd.

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