Friday is Field Trip Day! Two weeks ago, we did this spectacular hike. First, we stopped at the store to get an overabundance of snacks and use the bathroom. Then we stopped at the Ranger Station in Enumclaw to use the bathroom and get a map for the child who loves maps, so he can have his very own. Then we stopped at Federation Forest Interpretive Center to use the bathroom again and look at the stuffed creatures inside.
It was colder in there than outside, and the lights were all off though it was open, so we didn’t stay long. There was a group of UW students there on a field trip; it brought back memories of my days in the Forestry school and those wonderful trips away from the classroom.
The kids and I drove all the way up Hwy 410 in the sun, but when we arrived at the Tipsoo Lake parking lot, it was just beginning to rain. I was having some misgivings, but the kids were thrilled to be there, so we just put on the rain gear and I let them out to scamper around while I made sure the packs were all packed right. The rain blew through, then it stopped while we ate lunch at the parking lot picnic area, then it started again as we began our hike. The temps were mild, however, so it wasn’t too unpleasant.
The last time I did this hike, I was carrying Gabriel as a 2-year-old, and was with two other moms with toddlers. The trail seemed tough that time with all the extra weight of the little ones, and I wanted to see it again.
Some flowers are still in bloom, and some are in seed. The kids marveled at the Old Man’s Whiskers that were pretty flowers only a few weeks ago when we stopped here on the way back home from camping.
We poked around trying to find the trail up the slope; it’s well signed once you get to the little trail around the lake. The kids were complaining in the first few minutes, “My legs are so tired!” but they did just fine of course. I let them catch their breath when we reached the highway up above. The bridge is still under construction over the highway.
We continued on the trail around Naches Peak Loop, and soon enough the sun came out, casting cloud shadows on the opposite side. The kids thought that was pretty cool.
Suddenly we heard a single elk bugle nearby. The kids both were nervous after that, I could feel her fear as Annika moved closer to me and we all kept our eyes open for any large animals. We didn’t see any, however, and we didn’t hear any other bugling. Soon again the kids relaxed and we enjoyed the flowers, trickling late-season creeks, views to the north, and wonderful alpine smells.
It’s funny sometimes, the conversations they start while we’re hiking. Annika asked me if I would sign her up for hang gliding lessons when she is a teenager. This kid has been interested in flying since before she could talk.
We stopped for a snack at the little tarn to the north-northeast of Naches Peak. We sat on the rocks and chatted with a grandma and grandpa who were also on the hike. They were so cute! They encouraged us in what we were doing. I hope I’m still hiking when I’m their age. We watched the clouds blow through the sky. The kids giggled when I told them I have photos of Gabriel and his little friend toddling in the pond in their diapers the last time we were there. It was at this pond that we saw some fresh elk prints and some fur that could have been elk, too.
We also saw a ground squirrel posing on the rocks. The kids named the pond “Elk Lake.” They climbed around on the rocks and pretended to be hawks.
We did the last little push up to the ridge in the rain, but the sun was coming out again so we could get a nice view of Dewey Lakes.
Annika wanted to go down there, and I told the kids I thought they could do it, but Gabriel was having nothing to do with that. We had a short break there at the overlook, and then continued on around the loop. We hiked the rest of the way in the sunshine, and enjoyed the autumn rays and warmth.
By hiking the loop clockwise as we did, you can see Mount Rainier in your face for much of the second half. The top of The Mountain was shrouded in clouds the whole time, and I was glad I had chosen Chinook Pass rather than Sunrise, as it looked pretty gloomy over in that direction. The huckleberries on the southern slopes are showing some color, and we ate many handfuls of delicious little berries.
We continued slogging our way around the loop. Gabriel really hates doing hard things. This hike wasn’t too hard, but when he gets tired, he gets grumpy, and though he enjoys hiking, I often have to use tactics such as magic energy pills (m&m’s) to help him crack a smile. (He doesn’t believe in that kind of magic any more, but he does humor me and accept the bribe.) Once he caught a few grasshoppers, though, his mood improved.
The kids actually can outpace me now when they really get going (I am just about the slowest hiker I know of), and as we got close to the parking lot they picked up their pace and we made good time. We passed a friendly Park Ranger when we were almost to the road. It’s nice to see them out there on the trails. Otherwise there were maybe 10 or 15 other folks out that day that we saw hiking.
The kids still had plenty of energy to play around the picnic area while I got our stuff put away and prepared some more snacks to stand in for dinner.
It was about 4:30 pm when we made it back to the car. The afternoon light was golden, but you could definitely feel the autumn chill creeping in. Soon enough it was time for my little munchkins to get back in the car for the long ride down the road back to civilization. We saw hawks, ravens, other birds, squirrels, tadpoles, and lots of flowers. We got purple tongues and fresh air in our lungs. It was a good day. And we only made one bathroom stop on the way home.
Here are a few more photos from our day: