Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bench and Snow Lakes Trail Mount Rainier National Park

On our second trip to Rainier, we had the afternoon for an easy hike in mind for the beautiful afternoon we had. So we chose Bench and Snow Lakes trail, a relatively easy 2 mile hike back to some amazing, crystal clear and freezing cold lakes!
 
The hike starts uphill (with stairs). Man, I hate stairs...As soon as you clear the first patch of forest you can turn around to the amazing view of Mount Rainier. Plus, the added bonus of Bear Grass in the meadow.





Bench lake was pretty, but Snow lake was gorgeous! It had the snowy mountains along side it and the water was so clear and blue. So wonderful!


You get to a point on this trail where the maintenance ends. It's not that bad afterwards, just a bit more climbing over rocks. 

See? Rocks.

Wandering a little more down the (unmaintained) trail means you're rewarded with a nice little waterfall and no people. At least not while we were there. As we left, of course, a sizeable group was heading to where we had been hanging out. 




 
Andrew filled up our filter bag with deliciously cold water and we sprawled out on a flat rock and chilled. Hermit thrushes were singing in the woods, you could hear the waterfall in the distance and nothing else except our breathing. It's those moments I love when we go hiking. It's not the trudging to the destination. It is those in-between moments where we stop and absorb the world around us.


 
And this was a wonderful place to have an in-between moment.


If you are in Rainier and are looking for a hike that relatively easy (lots of stairs like I said), this is a good idea. Go find the in-between!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Suspension Bridge on Tahoma Creek Trail Mount Rainier National Park

Just a few weeks ago I got to visit Mount Rainier National Park for the first time. Not to mention actually seeing the mountain for the first time. We had driven by the park once before several years ago but the mountain was shrouded in cloud. This time, however, was perfect. We only camped one night and had one day to do some hiking.
We picked Tahoma Creek Trail towards Mirror Lake because it has a suspension bridge. Andrew really wanted to walk across the suspension bridge...I didn't. But I went along anyway.
 

Right off the bat the trail is funny. The first mile or so is walking down a gravel road to the trailhead. You used to be able to drive all the way to the trailhead but frequent floods and, oh yeah, giant boulders kept getting in the way.



The trail(road) was easy until you get to this part, where the trail has been washed away. There was approximately 6 inches of flat ground/shale to walk along Tahoma Creek here. And below, Andrew reties his boot next to a raging river like a boss.




Like I said, gorgeous views.



I'm not sure when, but a few miles in the trail went from moderate to strenuous in a heartbeat. Climbing up steep trails with exposed roots and sheer cliffs. I guess, I forgot to mention that the trailhead does have a sign that says the trail is not maintained. However, Andrew read a lot of reviews online that said that pretty much meant it wasn't perfect, but was an ok trail.
 



There were actually a lot of bridges on the trail. Including the very broken one...

 


We finally reached the suspension bridge! Andrew went across first (one person at a time!). I had to do a lot of deep breathing for this one. Remember, I don't like heights? Well, I made it across...Man does that bridge wobble!


 
 


 

 
On our way back we just happened to see this sign... Remember how I said the trailhead said the trail was not maintained? Well, somehow those two signs send very different messages.
It was a fun trail, even if it was a tad bit challenging.  
 


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wallowa Lake Tram

Last weekend we were in need of adventure. Like we so often are. I wanted mountains and Andrew came up with Wallowa Lake in Oregon. There just happens to be a tram going up the mountain, which is what Andrew really wanted to do...
I don't like heights. At all. More accurately, I'm afraid of falling. But I knew how much Andrew wanted to get in the little box(death trap) and float up the mountain. So we did.
 
You might not be able to read the sign, but there were 25 towers the tallest being 74 ft. And more than a mile to the top.


 
On the way up I managed to take one brave picture before the car lurched and I spent the next several minutes trying to breathe with my head down on my knees.

FINALLY! We got to the top, my legs felt like jello. But, man! The scenery was beautiful. 8100 feet in the air with snowy mountains all around us. 



 
And adorable, overly friendly squirrels running around. 


The tram is kind of pricey, but honestly it was worth it. The way down, I sat facing away from the mountain and I did a lot better. Maybe because I knew I was done with the tram. There are a lot of hikes in the area, and a few miles of trails up top. We will definitely be going back to this area again to do more hiking.