Hike along Silver Forest Trail at Mt Rainier National Park

The flowers were beginning to bloom in the alpine meadows on Mt Rainier.  Snow had just recently disappeared from many of the meadows. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

On 3 July, I walked in the evening the Silver Forest Trail from Sunrise east through scattered subalpine firs and an occasional white-bark pine and then back toward Shadow Lake.  Several bleached white skeletons of trees stood or lay prone on the ground.  The design in the wood was remarkable, with twists and turns as the grain of the wood shifted one-way and then another.  Glacier lilies, spreading phlox, and pasqueflower bloomed across the meadows.  The white and yellow flowers with the patchwork of green grasses created a mosaic across the landscape.  I found a subalpine fir with new cones just beginning to form.  They stick straight up as if reaching for the sky.  Dark-eyed Juncos sang from many subalpine firs as I walked down the trail.  These are the Oregon race of the juncos with their browner sides and back and dark head as if dunked in paint.  I heard several Canada Jays squawk in the distance.  A Mountain Bluebird called a few times as the light began to fade.

The spreading phlox added some color to the alpine meadows. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

The spreading phlox added some color to the alpine meadows. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

The Emmons Glacier flows down the east side of Mt Rainier and forms the headwaters of the White River. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

The Emmons Glacier flows down the east side of Mt Rainier and forms the headwaters of the White River. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

Mt Rainier glowed softly in the evening light as the sun began to set to the west.  The Sunrise area is on the east side of the mountain, in mountain’s rain shadow.  Little Tahoma peak sat off to the left, all snow had disappeared from it.  The massive Emmons Glacier slid down from Rainier’s peak to the right of Little Tahoma and to the left of Willis Wall.  The Winthrop Glacier flowed down right under Willis Wall.  As the evening progressed, a few clouds appeared above the side vent to the north of the peak.  I hoped some clouds would drift across the face of Rainier but they never did while I hiked.  I extended my hike back toward Shadow Lake but as light began to fade I retraced my steps before I reached the lake.

New cones were beginning to grow on the subalpine firs along the Silver Forest Trail. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

New cones were beginning to grow on the subalpine firs along the Silver Forest Trail. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

Just before 9PM, a grouse began to drum in a forest clump just down hill from the trail.  I would hear the thump thump thump of its drumming and then a pause for 5 or 10 seconds before it repeated the drum role.  It seemed like it was really close to the trail but I was never able to find it.  It may well be that the drum carries a long way and it was a ways off the trail.  This was one of the last sounds of the evening as I worked my way back toward the car except for the sound of water rushing over the rocks in the White River carried easily up the hill to my location.  Otherwise as twilight set in, it was just my breathing and the drum of the grouse.

On the way back down the hill from Sunrise to White River Campground, I first saw a Mule Deer doe on the side of the road grazing quietly.  It raised its head as I coasted by but did not seem too concerned.  Around one of the large turns on the road, an elk doe was in the road and bounded across the road, up a very steep embankment as if it was level to disappear into the woods.  She paused slightly in the road, looking my way, as if saying what is this strange bright beast coming down toward me.  She then bounded forward and up the bank.  I slowed to a craw to drift by and spotted a second, an elk buck with four velvet-covered points on its antlers.  It quickly disappeared into the darkness of the woods.  I felt extremely lucky to have spotted them and had this chance to enjoy wilderness.

 

PS:  I will have a booth at the 6th Street Art Fair in Bellevue on July 26, 27, and 28.  I will be in booth B14, which will be along the pedestrian corridor between Mars Hill Church and Bellevue Galleria. The pedestrian corridor is off of 106th Ave, right across from 6th street.  Come on by to see my art.  I would love to chat with you.

 

The tree trunk formed a distinctive component to the meadow landscape.  I would love to had seen this tree when it was alive.  It must have been a magnificient monarch. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

The tree trunk formed a distinctive component to the meadow landscape. I would love to had seen this tree when it was alive. It must have been a magnificient monarch. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

Probably a magnificient White-bark Pine that was killed in a fire long ago.  The pattern in the wood was intriquing. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

Probably a magnificient White-bark Pine that was killed in a fire long ago. The pattern in the wood was intriquing. (G. Thomas Bancroft)

 

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