Finding joy · Mount Rainier · Summer

My Happy Place: Summerland

Some mornings I’m just not feeling it.

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Maybe I had a terrible night of sleep. Maybe some body part is screaming for rest. Or maybe I’ve let the fear creep in. It usually does. And always before a long-ish solo hike. (And a lost hiker in the news makes it all the more daunting)

But all that be damned. It’s a beautiful day and I have a plan !

 

 


Summerland was my absolute favorite last year. It is a beautiful walk through the forest to stretch my legs before it gets serious.

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Twenty minutes in it begins a gradual climb through the woods.

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I love being in the woods early. There’s something about the light. It feels warm despite the tiniest chill in the air. It’s like a dancer beckoning the perfect partner. It shifts as I walk. It seems to be leading and so I follow. Whatever fear or hesitation I may have brought with me, falls gently away as I go along Fryingpan Creek.

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I had heard about a bridge out at the Panhandle. The run-off is swift and without a sturdy bridge I was concerned I might not cross. I had also heard about (and have experienced several times this summer) a worse than normal season for bugs. The biting black flies are persistent. This all came in my bag of worries. As it turned out, I had really nothing to worry about. (The bugs weren’t nearly as aggressive as my previous hikes.)

The trail gets serious after the last spur off of the trail overlooking Fryingpan Creek. Cascading water tumbles into blue-green pools and then is carried swiftly downstream. It’s a beautiful sight. The trail begins to climb from there with some flat sections right when you need them.

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Coming across the first bridge on the trail was a piece of cake. A railing gives you added security. From forest, to water to meadow … and all of it up.

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Flowers were blooming but are very close to peaking. Some are gone altogether.  Still, it is just a beautiful trail.

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There is a point you come to as the trail narrows that you are staring down Little Tahoma. That beautiful peak is on my bucket list for sure ! It’s a dream, but hopefully one that I will see through. I’ve loved that beautiful rock for a long time.

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Summerland Camp is on my bucket list too. There are a few beautiful sites (though I think the group camp is pretty awesome) I have been slowly acquiring some things I will need to backpack but I have never done it.

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Yet.

Past Summerland Meadow and Camp is the trail to Panhandle Gap. The trail is talus and loose rock and is another 800 or so feet of gain (in what I guessed) was another mile and a half or so.

 

 

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Marmots love it up here. I can see why.

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The washed-out bridge was visible from the trail.

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But up around the bend, the new bridge was perfectly in place.

 

Scary, but necessary. It was much easier when I came back.

I went until my turn-around time. It was already 9:45 and I needed to get home for Yoda’s walk. I went up a ways from the Meltwater Pond. There were a few Wonderland Trail backpackers taking a dip in the cool green water. Really awesome.

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I will be back to tackle the next ridge and see Mt Adams from a different perspective. I’m wondering if she was even visible at all today with the haze from fire smoke ?

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Workers were busy despite the rising temps. Hats off to these fine humans !

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Summerland is my happy place. Forest, flowers, meadows, water and rock.

It was a very good day to be alive. ( My t-shirt seemed to be a hit as I headed back to the car. BE DAREFUL OUT THERE. Many people heading up between 11:30 and 1:30. My white hair got compliments too. Maybe getting older isn’t so bad after all … )

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4 thoughts on “My Happy Place: Summerland

  1. I love your shirt too! Gorgeous photos. I will probably skip the rock part, not my favorite part. I love the meadows. 🙂 Last time I did Skyline, I skipped the top and went up Golden Gate. I think it wasn’t a prime flowers year. So dry. I’ve heard that from several people. Time between snow melt and peak was about 30 seconds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With the exception of that Comet Falls and Van Trump Park hike, I would totally agree. Flowers were light at both Paradise and Sunrise from what I could tell. No matter. Still exceptionally beautiful everywhere you look ♡

      Liked by 1 person

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