Monday, March 31, 2014


We had a few hours to spend so I suggested we drive over to West Seattle to check out Schmitz Preserve. We learned about the park from the Naturalist aboard the Argosy Cruise to Blake Island

I asked her if she was gonna take the High Road or the Low road? She took the low road and we came back on the High Road!

Very quiet, meditative. The city sounds are not present, just the forest sounds.

We were here

We have learned about Nurse Logs from the exhibit at the Seattle Sculpture Gardens

Thick moss on the trunks

Some thicker than others

You can here this at 

We heard about the park when we did our trip to Blake Island from the naturalist aboard the Argosy Goodtimes II. She said it was the only Old Growth forest in Seattle meaning the only area that had not been logged over the last 200 years.

"Schmitz Preserve Park is a 53 acre park on Alki Point in West Seattle... the park has remained essentially unchanged since 1908, and contains the largest old growth forest in Seattle." from 

It is amazing how just a few steps into this forest the city sounds disappear and only forest sounds remain. It is really a step back in time to the early days of Seattle when Logging was the primary industry and the pioneers formed bonds with the native indians to learn how to survive in this environment through the winters. Definitely worth the visit if you have the time.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mt. Rainier

Our tour bus picked us up on time at the EMP Seattle Center, just before the start of a 1/2 marathon..
We picked up the last of the 11 fearless Tourers at the Museum of Flight near Boeing Field, that plane in the center is a Harrier, much smaller than I had imagined.

In about 2 hours we were at the entrance to the park. and see

Just after we entered the park the driver spotted these deer, the only wildlife spotted on this trip.

The Twin Firs are now twin logs on the ground.

The last of the Twin Firs

This Old Growth tree had spiritual qualities and it was told that those who embrace the tree leave with a higher spiritual awareness.

A forest on a mountain definitely has a  Higher spiritual feeling.

The first snow plows were at Longmire, about half way up to Paradise

One of the few times in my life to be in a Mountain Forest with snow

This is a good first stop to get you into this awesome environment

Well Mt Rainier is a active volcano, part of the Ring of Fire, That water to my left is part of a huge natural springs pumping water to the surface

The springs keep the snow melted where they flow.

Here you can see the the rust color from the springs minerals that are bubbling to the surface, the water is cold, not hot.

We have a different idea of Spa

Some of the first caretakers built this special pool for visitors to soak in the natural springs and heal all sorts of ailments

This was cut in the late 60's and a piece was put on display. The tags note certain years and important years in the history in this trees life.

Our tour guide explained that you can read the rings and get all types of historical data like the weather, fire, or other related events in the trees life.

Born in 1293, almost 700 years old. Now you can understand the need for tree huggers!

We would not be able to see the "Mountain" due to the weather, in fact only 20% of the visitors actually see the crest of Mount Rainier on their visit. But all the incredible views on the way up were awesome.

Several waterfalls along the way up, we did not stop at them all but perhaps we will return on our own.

All of this eventually becomes Nisqually River

Our guide suggested we taste this water and now I know why the beer up here is so good!

As we continued along the winding road and the snow and sleet, rain, increased I was glad to have a experienced driver.

At Paradise. About the 5,000' level Half way up to the summit. Snow plows were doing heavy work clearing buildings out.

Each building had a tunnel extension to the entryway.

This was the only building open today. But there is food in there so we are good. There is a sign by the entryway that says "Avalanche Danger Do Not Stand Here" 

That 40' snow bank was created from the snow blowers clearing the parking lot.  

We saw some youg girls digging to expose the "Blue Ice"

Today's Notice to visitors

Paradise is located at the light at the top of the road. To go any higher you have to do it by hiking up.

These lights show all the roads closed at this time of year.

While the tour Guide helped the Admiral with her Snow Shoes I listened to the directions and managed to get mine on.

Ready to go Higher!

The beaten path was packed like you see here so I went off-roading to see what it would be like in the softer stuff. 

Remember the story about the Tortoise and the Rabbit?

Three skiers zoomed by the Admiral, there are no ski lifts here so they had to pack it up for the ride down.

This was our way to and from the parking lot.

The Nisqually River

The landscape constantly changes

You have to be prepared for these roads, like special traction tires and chains. 

Here the snowplows turn into snow blowers as the clear the snow off the road and blow it up and over the wall.

One of the many falls, no way to take a complete pic of this as it falls to a hundred or so feet below. to the Paradise river/

Paradise River is somewhere down there.

The weather did not prevent seeing breathtaking vistas. hard to see the mountain goats though!

The tip of one of  the Glaciers that cap Mt Rainier, Nisqually Glacier

Mt. Rainier

Washington State is blessed with Three National Parks: Mt Rainaier , North Cascades, and Olympic National Parks, all Mountains and part of the Ring of Fire:

There are five active volcanoes in Washington State, all located in the Cascade Range. They are: Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, Glacier Peak, and Mount Baker.

From Wikipedia:
"Mount Rainier, an active volcano, is the most prominent peak in the Cascades, and it is covered by 26 named glaciers including Carbon Glacier and Emmons Glacier, the largest in the continental United States. The mountain is popular for climbing, and more than half of the park is covered by subalpine and alpine forests. Paradise on the south slope is one of the snowiest places in the world, and the Longmire visitor center is the start of the Wonderland Trail, which encircles the mountain. 

Mount Rainier National Park, the fifth national park established, preserves more than 200,000 beautiful acres, including all of Mount Rainier. This 14,411-foot stratovolcano is the tallest mountain in Washington state. The park is home to a variety of ecosystems, like glaciers, meadows and forests. There are also many hiking trails with waterfalls, cliffs and natural bridges.   Most of the mountain roads into the the park are closed during the winter but you can get to Paradise which is at the 5,500' level. The Admiral considered a Snow vacation during Spring Break a couple of times as our son had been to Colorado with friends and loved snow boarding but when we compared Snow to Beach, the Sand won out every time. The Admiral and I never visited a Snowy Mountain resort as adults, we had both been a time or two with our parents as kids in Colorado so we were excited to see something outside of our environmental and cultural experience. The Admiral found yet another deal through which sells tickets to events and tours at reduced prices in the Seattle surrounding area. The 10 hour tour includes the 2 hours each way to get to Paradise on the south slop. So we were picked up around 7:30 am and our driver and tour guide John pointed out interesting details all along the way in the event we actually try to do this by our own car which does not have traction tires or chains!. Once inside the park we made several stops along the way to take pics and take short walks down a few trails. Longmier was the first long stop to see the Natural Springs. Even though Mt. Rainier is an active volcano, the spring water bubbling up through the ground was cold, but it is known to have Healing Qualities if you feel like bathing in it.

Several Waterfalls, rivers, and the tip of a glacier we entered Snow Land and soon were at Paradise. On this trip they have free snowshoes to try out so we definitely took that one on. This is a great activity since you will not be cold hiking around with big paddle like shoes strapped on, we hiked around for about 40 minutes including getting the snow shoes on and off and we were not cold at all even with the occasional snow, rain and/or sleet coming down on us. 
Every direction you look there is beauty and of course the Mountain. We could not see the peak due to the weather but we have seen it several times on clear Seattle days. It is very spiritual actually being on the mountain and standing along side trees several hundreds of years old, or a waterfall that dominates the sounds, or on a slope over thirty feet or more deep in snow pack. The power of this mountain and the way it dominates the regional environment, even by determining the weather systems, is awesome enough. Considering it is an active volcano and could one day erupt again adds a whole other dimension.
We learned about Lahars which are huge Landslides on volcanoes and how they can completely change the landscape and redirect rivers for miles around, see
As we were leaving the mountain and returning to a town at the base of Mt Rainer the driver explained that all the homes around us were in a Lahar Zone and could one day be wiped to oblivion. Check out the map on the link above and you can see that if you live anywhere near this area you better do your research before you buy. You do not have to live next to a mountain to appreciate it, we are living over 100 miles from it and can see the mountain great from here!