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In Yer Face

Mount Rainier is an epic place. There is so much history that is alive in that park. It lives in every step along the footpaths. I always marvel at how, decades ago, men and women broke trail through this landscape in the shadow of the mountain. Today, Natalie and I talked about the diversity of the trail and of how after every steep section (uphill or down) there is a leveling off. The trail moderates and it encourages you to pay attention as you cross the muddy mountain run-off and walk parallel to the rugged slabs of granite and then tiptoe through fragile meadows.

The wildowers were everywhere.

Her Majesty was just as brilliant as I’ve ever seen her. Bigger than life. One is humbled in her shadow. We got lucky.

As we walked, I realized how little I know about this place in the world. I don’t know the names of the peaks or of the many wildflowers we came across. I don’t know the name given to waterfalls or ridges that seem to slice open the sky. And so we did what any good Nygren would do. We made stuff up as we went along.

Meandering through the woods in the lower section of trail we came across a beautiful waterfall. I love the kind of falls that you hear before you see. The kind that echo through the granite canyons and have not one, but two, falls coming from the mountainside. I’m sure it must have a name. We decided that since we were close to Eunice Lake (or so we thought) that we’d call it ATTL Falls. ( Almost to the lake). We liked this name until we came upon “Psyche Lake” and realized it would have to be renamed: NATTL Falls (NOT almost to the lake). Psyche Lake was the tease as we came around a corner thinking there was a clearing that must be Eunice. Nope. Small pool of water instead. So, onward we went.

As we passed the real Eunice Lake, we started to climb in earnest toward the lookout we could see on the ridge. Flowers were everywhere ! “Deer Weed” as Natalie called it, dotted the hillside. They aren’t actually deer weed, it is Bear Grass.  ( We observed that they looked like boob flowers. And they are spectacular ! ) There were also Firework Flowers ( which may or may not actually be alpine lilies ).  At any rate, the flowers were epic !

After reaching the Tolmie Peak Lookout, we continued on the unknown ridge to some beautiful boulders along the lake canyon. We stopped and had our lunch here. As we dined in amazing splendor, Natalie gave me the honor of naming the path Bonnie Ridge. I gotta say I love it ♡

Rainier remained “in yer face” as we descended the trail and headed back down to the car. Pretty spectacular day in the mountains. Two of my favorite things: hiking and my niece. Life can be hard. It can throw you the occasional curveball (like Kelly’s illness). But by God, it can also give you these shining moments that you will always be able to conjur on the days that aren’t so good. Thanks for today, Natalie. This adventure has some lasting sparkle and I love you to the moon◇♡☆🌛

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