Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Miracle in the Sky

The weather the next morning was just as bad.  Snow had fallen overnight. But we had slept well and the breakfast buffet was sumptuous.  We were glad that we knew how to layer our clothes.  We filled our backpacks with sweaters, jackets and fleece and headed for the Grove of the Patriarchs.  The rain had stopped, but the air was cold and a thick layer of clouds stretched across the sky.  We stopped at one spot that proclaimed itself to be the best view of the mountain.  The view was a solid bank of gray.

We found the trailhead leading to the Grove of the Patriarchs.  They are 1000 year old trees, Douglas Firs that reach up for 200ft.  As we entered the forest, it was the profusion of green that amazed me. There was lichen and moss, ferns and grass, fir and balsam with tiny pink or white or yellow flowers like dots on the green.
 The Ohanapecosh River flowed along our path and murmured gently as we walked. It is a river flowing from an inactive glacier so its water is clear and turquoise blue.  
We reveled in the small leaves, the enormous trees, the smell,of pine and the smiling water.  
When we got back to the car our mood had lifted, and we were feeling less discouraged by the weather.
We drove to the Ohanapecosh campground where we found a picnic table and made a meal from the groceries we had picked up the day before.  Then we followed the trail through the hot springs there.  We knelt down to feel the warm water flow over our fingers.  It was an easy, quiet stroll.
Our next stop was a trail that lead to a place called Silver Springs. The trail followed the Ohanapecosh River as it descended.
The forest was similar but the trees were smaller.  
The trail was higher, but we could still hear the river on our left.  As we continued the trail began to drop, and we could see white water down below.  Finally we came to a bridge which crossed the river at a rocky shelf. A mass of splintered logs lay beneath the flow as the river crashed down on the rocks.
The sun dappled the forest as we hiked back to our car. We didn't realize it until we drove along and looked up to see a wall of snow covering the sky. Is it possible?  Are we looking at Mount Rainier?
Yes, without a doubt that is the grand lady herself.  We drove to the spot where we had seen only a mass of gray earlier in the morning. We sat on the wall for a long time watching the shy lady peeking out from her veil of clouds. 
Finally we looked down to see a magnificent falls pouring down below, and we decided to explore further.  This was Narada Falls, a drop of 160 feet.  We looked at it from above for a while until we noticed a spot at the base with what seemed like the end of a trail.  It started out easy, but the trail soon turned to a slope of slushy snow.  Not to be deterred we dug our heels in and climbed down. 
We ended the day at Paradise Lodge where the mountain peeked out once more after dinner.  We depart tomorrow.

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