Burroughs 1, 2 and a herd of goats!!

We’d planned on doing this hike a couple weeks earlier but I somehow managed to miss the entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park. Still don’t understand how that happened! Just meant we needed to come back.

It turned out to be a pretty windy day with gusts about 25 mph. That’s not all that fun when you are on a dry mountain with blowing dirt. Luckily there is quite a bit of blockage areas along this hike. Burroughs is back on the Sunrise side of Mt. Rainier, which is definitely more desert like. Although the trail starts in the missile of a meadow, you quickly leave that and head out to the dirt and rock! This hike takes you along the side to Frozen lake as well, but instead of turning right to the lookout you go left up the Ridgeline. As we were walking along we would see a large herd of goats hanging out along with Wonderland Trail. We kept an eye on the herd and thought we could divert down there after our hike to get a look at the goats. My GF hasn’t seen goats up close so we were hoping they would still hang around.

Burroughs heading up to 1 and 2 is not the prettiest hike. You have long views out across the valley but the terrain is really dry and pretty boring. I would imagine it’s what the surface of Mars looks like! The highlight of the hike up was my GF attempting a headstand on top of Burroughs 1. It was a bit breezy up there. She tried several time and we ended up with a pretty funny video!

The trek from Burroughs 1 to Burroughs 2 was equally uninspiring. You can tell you are gaining some elevation as the air is a bit thin up there. We pondered on top of Burroughs 2 if we should head to the elusive Burroughs 3. Still not sure where it is or if it really exists. The park map doesn’t even show it! We decided to head back down and keep an eye out for the goats. Fortunately on the way back down we could see the goats the entire time and it was clear they were not moving anywhere. We made it down to frozen lake and made the turn onto the Wonderland Trail. We found a herd of goats bedded down in the trees. I would guess there were about 40 goats including several babies. We watched them for while then decided to head back down as it was getting pretty warm on the trail.

Another hike to check off the bucket list!

Chain Lakes Loop is one of my favorite hikes!

I’ve hiked Chain Lakes Loop in the summer and in the winter. The hike looks completely different in different seasons. You wouldn’t recognize it in the winter.

My birthday is in late August so my GF and I headed up to Bellingham for a little getaway! She had never hiked at Mt. Baker so we left early to spend the day at Mt. Baker. We originally planned on Heliotrope but there were some recent trip reports talking about the river crossings being pretty challenging due to ice melt. We decided we better not push it and went for Chain Lakes Loop instead.

I was surprised there weren’t many cars in the lot when we arrived. After a 5 minute discussion of which trail actually took us to chain lakes loop, we headed out. The trail is nice as it runs along Bagley Lakes. There are a couple nice stone bridges at the beginning. The water level is really low this late in the summer so it seemed closer to a creek or pond. The trail meanders along the water for the first mile or so before it turns into the hillside and you begin a long and steady climb up to the saddle. In the summer this section is lined with wild blueberries. They are a nice pick me up along the way as this section is pretty dry with no sun cover.

We did have some distant clouds so Mt. Shuksan was covered pretty much the entire time we were hiking. We did get some nice peek a boo views of Mt. Baker along the way. At the saddle you get to see Mt. Baker and overlook two large lakes down in the valley. Both of them are great spots for overnight camping. We did see quite a few tents around the lakes. We stopped for lunch at one of the lakes and soaked in the view for some time.

The second half of the trail heads out of the meadows and into a much drier section of the mountain. The backside has meadows in the distance, but the trail is dry, surrounded by rock fields as you head up to Ptarmigan Trail. The views on this side though are pretty phenomenal. Mt. Baker had some cloud cover rolling through so we had some good on and off views as we traversed the side of the hill. At the top you have the choice to head out the Ptarmigan Trail for an up close view of Mt. Shuksan or head towards Artist Point. We already knew the could were covering Mt. Shuksan so we headed towards Artist Point. At this point the trail was getting pretty crowded. A lot of people start from Artist Point so it can be a bit of a train line. The view heading to Artist Point is pretty nice. You get nice sweeping views with the small views of Lake Diablo. It stands out because of the color. You immediately know what lake you are looking at, at soon as you see it!

Pretty sure I’ve sold my GF on more hikes at Mt. Baker! We will definitely be back for some snowshoe hikes in the winter/spring!

Skyline and High Skyline at Mt. Rainier

On August 22, the group headed back down to Mt. Rainier to hike Burroughs. I thought it would be a great opportunity to stretch out the legs and see some different terrain at Mt. Rainier. We were so busy chatting on the way down that I actually missed the turn into Sunrise at Mt. Rainier. Not exactly sure how that happened and I passed at least 3 signs telling me to turn! So……anyways we ended up at Paradise at Mt. Rainier. I haven’t hiked there in a really long time so it was a nice change. The Paradise side has a lot more meadows and waterfalls. You get a much closer look at the glaciers on Rainier and can see the trek to Camp Muir! Camp Muir is still on my bucket list!

Luckily Cathi has hiked Skyline before and knew it was a really nice trail. Portions of the trail are actually paved which is interesting. This trail starts at the well known stairs, etched with a John Muir quote. Right from the get go we saw the most marmots I’ve ever seen! They were everywhere!!! We even saw a couple bucks eating some vegetation. The marmots are clearly use to seeing people regularly. They stand right next to the trail or cross the trail right in front of you. At times they look like they are engaging you in a stare down!

What’s nice about this trail, beyond the view, is the ongoing view of Mt. Rainier. It feels like you are virtually standing on Mt. Rainier at times. It’s so close you can almost reach out and touch it! The glaciers on this side are amazing. You can see the blue ice, cut deeply with crevases and fissures. You just don’t understand the magnitude of these. To be able to see them with such detail at that distance, you know just how massive they truly are.

Although we had pretty clear skies, we also encountered some cloud layers as we gained elevation. One of my favorite parts of being on a mountain is the ability to get above the cloud layer. When you are above the clouds, the tops look like cotton balls. It looks like you could walk right out on them! Maybe that’s what the heavens look like. It just give an entirely different perspective to the environment. We were so lucky and were able to see Mt. St Helen’s, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood from the trail. That is pretty amazing! I’ve summited Mt. St Helens. I’m going back to Mt. Adams in 2021 to finish that hike! If all goes well maybe even add Mt. Baker to the 2021 list!

This hike for the crew was a bit more difficult. It didn’t have more elevation gain or mileage, but the starting elevation point and increase created some issues with the thinner air. Right from the start a couple were having a hard time breathing but I think the views were a nice distraction.

Sometimes getting lost leads you to the best hikes! This hike lived up to that!

2nd try at Fremont Lookout for sunset

On August 10 I headed back down to Mt. Rainier for a second try for sunset. Cathi and I were fogged in the first time. The weather forecast was amazing! Clear skies with no chance of rain! That sounds like perfect conditions for sunset! I arrived at the park and Mt. Rainier was out in all her glory!! I’ve lived here pretty much my entire life and I just can’t express how lucky we are to view that mountain every day! She is spectacular!! Even better is the fact that we have this huge national park that has miles of trails in it. Some venture through meadows and other are more desert like. You can walk so close to Mt. Rainier and see all the glaciers.

I pulled in the parking lot and there she was! No cloud cover. Robin egg blue skies. I was carrying a few extra pounds in my pack with my DSLR camera, tripod and my fun lens ball! I didn’t care as the pictures were going to be so good!

Having just been there a week earlier, I was surprised as how much frozen lake had changed. Nearly all the snow and ice was gone. The snow bridge had collapsed. Even though there are roughly 500 signs and barbed wire surrounding the lake telling everyone to stay out as it is a public water supply, there is always that one person who can’t follow directions! Not only did she have to pass several signs telling her to stay out, she ducked between the barbed wire to get down to the lake to refill her water bottle. I mean seriously!

I got up to the lookout early and found a good spot. I set up my camera and tried some photos with my lens ball. Note to self on a really sunny day be super careful with the lens ball as glass and sun don’t really go together:). In a mater of a millisecond I burned a hole in my shirt and burned my hand! The point where your hand starts burning and your brain knows it hurts but it takes a couple more seconds to put the pain and the lens ball together to realize your hand is burning!

After about 20 minutes I started to notice a familiar fog/cloud layer coming up the valley. I hoped it would be temporary and blow through, but boy was I wrong! Not only did it continue to blow through, it continued to get thicker and thicker to the point of Mt. Rainier not even being visible. I ended up leaving before sunset as it was obvious that it would not clear up for hours.

Another failed sunset attempt for Fremont Lookout! It’s all good though! It was still a really nice hike.

Did you know Melakwa means “mosquito” in Chinook??

Living in Washington State we have a deep relationship with several Native American Tribes. Many of our cities carry Native American names that out of towners badly attempt to pronounce. Lake Melakwa is located outside Snoqualmie (Snoqualmie Tribe) and is located within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. It is a relatively popular trail located off Denny Creek. The trail is roughly 8.5 miles roundtrip and has an elevation gain of about 2,700 feet. The trail offers a wide variety of landscape as you gain elevation.

I chose this hike as part of our training hikes in preparation for Mailbox as it gains 2,700 feet, which would be our most elevation gain in a hike. It’s a fairly consistent grade so it would help acclimatize the group to ongoing elevation but nothing dramatic. We had a couple new hikers join us on this trip so that added some entertainment as this was a bit, actually a lot, out of their comfort zone.

The trail starts out in the forest and about a mile in, you come across the Denny Creek crossing. In the summer the creek is easily passable as a log is across it that you walk across. This area has a lot of slippery big rocks that families come to so their kids can play safely. They also make for super fun slip and slides! It’s a nice area to go do something different. If you walk up the creek there is a nice waterfall that has a small pool at the bottom.

We kept heading up the trail and came to the talus field. As we climbed Donna kept asking me if we were heading up that and I kept reassuring her no. We weren’t going up that as we were crossing over to the other side but what I didn’t tell her was that we would be going to about the same elevation point! Pretty sure she called me a liar several times as we gained elevation!! I always laughed! At this point I was beginning to question if her friends were going to make it to the lake as we still had quite a ways to go.

After a couple hours we made it to the lake. Every alpine lake here looks different. Each has their own unique valley they sit in and their own unique color. I’ll never get tired of looking at alpine lakes, but apparently some in my group do! Ha! Although we didn’t have the best weather, it was still a beautiful day. The lake was a bit chilly so it was nice to take my boots off and soak my feet in the chilly water. Too cold to swim for sure! We did celebrate with some whiskey shots at the lake though!

Hiking during a pandemic has been an interesting process. It has been great to get outside and breathe in some fresh air for sure! With a goal in mind of Mailbox Peak on September 10 we have to make sure we get out every week to build endurance to make sure they all make it to the peak. The downside has been the massive increase in the number of people on the trails. A lot of people who don’t normally hike and don’t know hiking etiquette. With trails being so busy it is really important that we practice safe passing, not stepping onto delicate terrain off the trail and practice leave no trace principles! I really can not tell you how much toilet paper or Kleenex I’ve seen off the side of the trail. Not to mention dog poop bags. This has become a huge issue that will require massive cleanups. It’s really disappointing to see people just have a complete lack of respect for our forests. You can’t have nice things if we don’t bother to take care of them!

Next week I think we will do some exploring at Mt. Rainer!

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