Two days of hiking, fireworks, two farmers markets and whole bunch of
My original plan was brilliant - two day trips to natural hot springs
and three days of shopping in Seattle. The only problem was that
of the hot springs I wanted to visit were wiped out by a land slide a
year ago, and the other was on private land and not accessible because
of high river levels. Amenda, our local friend suggested we try
Rainier is a stratovolcano that dominates it's surrounding.
Rainier is visible from over much of Seattle in a more dramatic way
than Baker dominates over Vancouver. The amazing part of driving
to Rainier is that it keeps getting larger and larger - it's actually
much larger than you think having seen it from the city.
Our first hike was on the less busy side of the mountain but we still
needed to buy a park permit for $15 - 1 week minimum.
We really lucked out with our timing. The snow was still melting
and for some parts of the hike we were still walking over snow.
In sunnier parts of the hike, we found wildflowers everywhere. I
was particularly impressed with the bloom of Avalanche lilies - they
were found in the forests and in the meadows.
As we pushed our way up the mountain we passed
different micro climates. Some areas had been snow free for
weeks, other areas had lost their snow just days before. Every
corner we turned had new surprises.
Eventually we made our way to the top of
the mountain. The view of course is second to none.
actually surprised me the most was the species at the top of the
mountain. The mountain top was it's own zone and had plants that
occurred no where else on our hike up.
The hike back down was perhaps more lovely
hike up. Beside being a bit faster, the sun was further into the
day and the forest was hiding some lovely spots. We were in a bit
of a rush because we wanted to be back in town to see the fireworks
If you want to see stuff blown up, there is no
place to go than the United States. The fireworks start
with a Helicopter flying by with a massive American Flag, everyone
standing and singing the national anthem. A little bit of
jeering, but everyone sat down again and the fireworks began.
Seattle is a bit funny. Vancouver has at least 5 fireworks events
each summer - Seattle only has one. That said, like Vancouver,
on the nations birthday there are more than one set of fireworks going
off simultaneously in different parts of the city. We
were watching the Lake Union Fireworks, but rarely we would see
fireworks going off in Elliot Bay peak over the ridge.
The usual fireworks rules apply - get there
early, be ready for a
longish walk from your car and be patient. These fireworks were
probably the best I've ever seen and were definitely worth the effort to
We had so much fun
on our first day
hiking, and since we already paid for the parking, we decided to make
our second hiking day in Rainier as well. Paradise is the top
destination in the park and Amenda assured us we would have a good time.
Paradise is very similar to Banff/Jasper in
mind. This beautiful location is overrun by humans and their
cars. You can drive up to the alpine, get out and just walk
around. The paths in this area paved (with asphalt) and
while it's a bit depressing, it has avoided deep mud pit trails that
widen and meander over the mountain.
Being new to the area, we picked a rather long hike - the Lakes Trail -
for our day. We followed the direction, taking the Skyline
Trail. Not understanding that every trail in the area is labeled
"Skyline Trail" we promptly headed in the wrong direction up the
mountain. We quickly found snow and realized we were on the wrong
Up to our ankles in snow and no destination in sight, we decide to turn
back and get on the trail we were supposed to be on. Good
choice. Once we got onto the proper segment of the skyline trail
(the one that leads out to the lakes trail) we found open blooming
meadow. When we got to Myrtle falls, we found a park ranger who's
job seemed to be to scare people off from proceeding further. The
paved trail ended.
As we climbed up we made terrible time. Every few steps we
stopped to take more photos of flowers and views. Mountains that
would be destinations on their own were merely filler here. I was
dumbstruck by how beautiful it all was.
the time we got to the top of the ridge (back to the elevation we
were earlier it was starting to get late into the day. We had
hiked about 20% of what we wanted to and the trail went from very wet
to completely snow covered. We decided to bail - sorry take our
"back" trail. After a few bad hikes I've learned the value of a
good short day is better than a long bad day. And we had so far
had a very good day.
One of the notable differences for me was the nicely
labeled plants. That and the ice cream. The info center had
a small cafeteria and the most popular item by far was the soft serve
ice cream. We enjoyed our own on the walk back to the
car. From here we decided to see some of the other sights around
After our hike, we drove down to Reflection
Lake. We intended to hike to here but having driven here, we were
happy we didn't hike this far down to just to hike up again.
Reflection lake is very well placed but I could imagine it would be
spectacular if you caught the mountain lit by morning sunlight.
I love those roadside attractions that have an understated sign but an
over sized parking lot. This waterfall is pretty dramatic - it's a
drop into a cleft but the part that really surprised me is how much
spray is blown off these falls. Standing in the spray field, I
was wet in seconds and would be soaked in minutes.
This once base camp had a number of springs. The springs aren't
like they were 100 years ago (they are no longer warm) but it was still
a very nice short loop to walk around.
University District Farmers Market
Vancouver has at least four different farmers markets. Seattle
has more. We decided to check out the University District Farmers
Market because it was the closest one open on a Saturday morning.
way you know for sure you are at a farmers
is by the heirloom tomatoes.
Ballard Farmers Market
being something like my third trip to Seattle, I'm starting to get
a sense of neighborhoods. On a previous shopping day we stopped
into Ballard (it has a nice walk) and on this Sunday morning we were
back to see the market. The market closed off the street but many
of local businesses were open. (I suspect they do a pretty good
business). The older buildings in this historic neighborhood go
well with the farming theme.
One of the things that surprised me about the
farmers markets in
general were the number of live performers. Many farmers markets
I've been to (especially in Asian) are silent (no performers) or have
only one performer. At both University district and
Ballard, there were several simultaneous performances around the market
and from the looks of things, they weren't doing too badly.
Some of the vendors were the same as the
University district, some were
knew. We actually went for breakfast and picked up tamales and
quesedias at one of the stands. One of the differences between
Seattle and Vancouver is the boxes. Surprisingly, most of the
products are presented in wooden boxes, kind of what you would expect
the farm would use in harvest. In Vancouver, you mostly see
cardboard or plastic reusable containers. Presentation counts for
Tags: Seattle(20), flower(14), alpine(12), produce(10), fireworks(9), market(8)
People: Helen(4), Amenda(2), John(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Seattle Rainier
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 01:24:06 Edit
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