Grand Park

Janet wanted to visit Grand Park at Mt. Rainier, going in via the shortcut to Lake Eleanor. Rain was in the forecast but the overcast would hopefully bring out the color of the wildflowers. After not being able to get out the previous weekend I was ready to go regardless of the weather. The drive up Highway 410 was cloudy but dry. Road 73 is in pretty good shape though there are some potholed sections and one deep dip. We arrived at the trailhead at about 8:40 to find one group just heading out and three other vehicles. I expected a lot of bugs though they were only mildly annoying at the start. It was cool enough to allow long pants and sleeves to thwart the bloodsuckers.

The trail to lake Eleanor in not an any map I have. I brought my GPS to find out how far it is. The gentle trail goes fast. It has only been 17 weeks since Janet's double knee replacement and this would be the longest hike she has done since the surgery. The GPS showed 1.25 miles to the lake, farther than I would have thought. There was just a little mud on the trail. All downed logs have been cut out. Our stay at the lake was brief as it was buggier.

From there we hiked in forest then dropped down to the first meadow. Not many flowers left here. After crossing the meadow we again entered forest. The trail climbs steadily and a few flowers began to show. The avalanche lilies were done along here. The trail steepens and the forest thins as we climbed to Grand Park. The wet shaded area just below the park had some of the best flowers of the day. Asters, a patch of blooming avalanche lilies, magenta paintbrush, lupine, and a host of others. Just a taste of what all of Grand Park looked like a few weeks ago but very nice in it's own right.

Janet did fine on the steep steps though they would be harder on the way out. We neared the cloud level as we entered the park. Wispy clouds blew by. The mountain was lost in white but Mt. Fremont and Skyscraper Mountain came in and out of the clouds. We spent a lot of time photographing the peaking flowers just below the park and less time in the park itself. There were still some nice stands of flowers but most were past their prime.

I've been in Grand Park on painfully hot summer days when the mosquitoes form a black fog around hikers. I've been there on sunny clear fall days when the grass is bright brown and Rainier is out in all its glory. This day was different but equally enjoyable. The breeze kept the bugs at bay and the clouds provided a more intimate environment. We began to see a few small groups of hikers both heading in and out. At 11:30 we stopped for a lunch break and it was getting pretty cool. Not like most August days in the park.

We continued on to the Northern Loop junction and took another short break. From there we went to the far end of Grand Park. When the trail began to descend to Berkeley Park we turned around. There were more flowers here including patches of shaggy headed western anemone. The GPS said we had traveled 5 1/2 miles. It didn't seem that far though the easy walking is deceptive. Two backpackers who had just been down at Berkeley Park raved about the amazing flower display. We were not tempted to descend as 11 miles on Janet's new knees was plenty.

On our walk across the park Mt. Fremont had come out of the clouds and even parts of Mt. Rainier appeared. On the way back they were lost in white once again. Still, we had felt only a few stray drops of rain the whole way. My new umbrella stayed in my pack the whole day. Crossing back through the park was easy. More time was spent on the last and best flower display at the far end. The steepest descent is at the beginning and it slowed Janet down. As the grade eased our speed picked up.

The trip back was pleasant enough though there seemed to be more bugs in the forest than up in the park. Maybe it was just the lack of wind. While we had a few folks pass us by heading down we did not see any other groups coming in. I guess the wet forecast kept the crowds at home. I don't expect it to be almost lonesome in Grand Park in August. We were back at the car by around 3:15 pm. A nice 6 1/2 hour jaunt in Mt. Rainier National Park.

We drove back down the dirt road to Highway 410 and just after entering the highway rain began to fall. It continued to rain all the way home. It looked like most of the area had rain much of the day. We lucked out and had a very nice day for a hike. The overcast kept our photos from being blown out and the rain held off until we were done. A very nice way to spend a "dark wet summer day". This was Janet's first double digit hike since surgery and she is getting stronger each week.

Tiny White Flower
Lake Eleanor
Little Flowers
White & Pink Flowers
Avalanche Lily
Magenta Paintbrush
Janet At Work
Two Paintbrush
Excellent Floral Display
Red, White, & Blue
Color Everywhere
More Color
Bright Magenta
Paintbrush Clump
Clouds Roll In
Beautiful Aster
Land O' Lousewort
Shaggy Western Anemone
Endless Trail
Yellow Paintbrush
The Mountain Appears
Mt. Fremont
Rainier In Clouds
Penta Anemone
Paintbrush Bouquet
Big Raven
Aster Eyes
Misty Grand Park
More Flower Show
Paintbrush Close Up
Best Spot
A Nice Mix
Avalanche Lily Patch
Strawberry Flower
A Touch Of Yellow
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2010