Monday, September 29, 2014

Mt Ranier National Park

Mt Ranier is a mountain wonderland famous for dense forests, dazzling wildflower meadows,  waterfalls, tremendous snowfields, and rugged glaciers.  The mountain makes its own weather -- it is a behemoth sentinel over Seattle and all of western/central Washington.

So dense forests, snowpack, water falls, all sounds like it takes a bit of water to maintain THAT environment.  Let's go see!

We arrived under gray skies with a forecast for a couple of inches of rain.  Umm.  Would we see the mountain??  The ranger smiled.  No.  Oh well.

We hiked in a drizzle and discovered our raincoats are no longer water proof (or water resistant.)  And we sat inside Bessie warm and dry while it rained.

We eventually ventured out and did a long hike under gray, maybe clearing skies.  Then suddenly -- BLUE SKY and WHITE MOUNTAIN!!  We raced up the road to Paradise at about 5,500 feet to stare at the 14,410 foot peak.   We were in awe.  And about 90 minutes later the clouds encompassed the peak.  By the time we were back to the campground....rain.  Rain for another day.  But we were moving on thrilled to have had a peak at Tahoma, the dormant but ever present volcano!

Treated to a special peak at Tahoma!  We were thrilled!

Green, lush, and dripping vegetation

Sort of the "bob for apples" version in a mushroom.  DEADLY -- don't even touch!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mount St Helens

Vancouver! Vancouver!

The call went out in May 1980 from a USGS volcano watcher as Mt St Helens erupted -- after a few months of ominous signs.  The once symmetrical, snow topped mountain became a living picture of VOLCAN -- the god of volcanoes!

The largest landslide in history, a huge lateral blast, and hours of flow, cloud, ash, and tremors.  Mountain lost, trees blown down for miles, a river smothered, new lakes made, lives lost.  Then quiet and a new landscape to contemplate.  Monochromatic; lifeless; arid.  But in the ensuing years bits of life have sprung up and brush and small trees appear.  Salamanders are thriving.  Small water pockets beckon ducks.  And every now and then the mountain rumbles and magma oozes up in the caldera.  The glacier grows.

A bit of steam can be seen -- mostly it is drab, dusty, and sobering.
The glacier is almost BLACK because it is so full of rocks and dust.

Coldwater Lake formed by a debris pile.  Some shrub beginning to grow back.

One area in the "hummocks" has become a wetlands as small pools of water collect and creeks meander.
The area is full of salamanders & birds.  

Looking back from the Toutle River -- the north facing side was completely blown away.
The missing mountain now is the hummocks and piles of debris.  

The Toutle River today -- about 150 feet HIGHER than the old river bed.  That is a lot of debris!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hot Springs Heaven

We scooted out of Cody with new tags for Bessie -- street legal again!

Then on to Bozeman for a taste of a college town; fun place.  Through Missoula with lunch stops at Big Dip Ice Cream and Bernice's Bakery.

But we were searching for hot springs and that took us up to Lolo Pass and down into Idaho.  We tryed out the Jerry Johnson Hot Springs:  ok; busy; a mile from the road.  A wee bit cold at night so on down the Lochsa River Valley we drove to Wilderness Gateway campground.  Gateway to the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness.  And the Stanley Hot Springs.

Darn cold night.  Left on the 5 mile hike in long underwear; fleece; hats and gloves.  Slowly up the hill we hiked -- shedding layers and getting warm, even before the hot springs.  We crossed boulder creek (on the boulders) and then up along Huckleberry Creek.  WOW!

Along the hillside in a series of pools was a lovely wilderness hot springs.  Surrounded by tall conifers, blue skies, and pools of varying coolness.  A great afternoon.

Until the 5 mile hike back.  And darn cold temps at night.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cody, Wyoming

We scooted from the Grand Tetons to Cody -- looking at the "wintery mix" and "snow patches".  Um, could it be winter already?

But our goal was Cody--and a long overdue visit with my sister Alisa & her husband Joe.  A week of adventure and hanging out and talking and hiking and exploring.

Fun every day.

Alan has the best trees.  Alisa has the best fire.  Joe has the best moon.  I have the best tent.
We all the best time together!

Sip n Paint -- what fun!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Grand Tetons National Park

Time to drive west.  Look towards the setting sun.  Try and sneak in a last bit of summer (though the morning temps in the high 30s are chilling our resolve!!) to one of our favorite spots -- Grand Tetons National Park.  The Park has a bit of everything we enjoy:  alpine lakes, hikes, birds, wildflowers, bike paths, scenery.  All in a compact geographic area.  This year we are camping at Signal Mountain -- happy to splurge on the electric connection to run that space heater in the morning.

PLUS...the weather seems to have cleared up for a few days.  It has been a cool and wet August here so we are glad for the sunshine.

I will let the pictures tell our story.

Our first moose this season...along the Gros Ventre River as we rode our bikes!
Calf was in field behind the River