Some days just don’t play nicely with a plan. This was definitely one of those days. I left later than I had hoped and hit some unusual traffic getting out of Auburn. I’ve been hoping for some miraculous early-opening at Sunrise Road, but it was not to be.
Driving back down to Summerland and Owyhigh Lakes trailheads, I am met with this unfortunate message: No Parking. 7am-6pm on 6/30-7/01. Both lots are completely blocked. There are a couple pull-outs up the road, but I decide to go with Plan B. Comet Falls.
I drive to Paradise via Stevens Canyon Rd. It’s a beautiful drive. There is construction and a couple delays, but few cars, so it is to be savored. The lot at Paradise is already half full. It looks hit and miss with snow, so I grab my pack, camera, poles and spikes and head toward Myrtle Falls and beyond.
Aside from a few snowy spots it is pavement until just before the falls. This bridge was inaccessible my last two trips, so it’s nice to see the snow caving above and the rush of water below.
Marmots are out ! Nothing says summer in the mountains like marmots. They seem pretty chunky for this early in the season and look healthy. A bird I just could not seem to capture in my lens evaded me … but here it is. Bad picture and all.
There are white avalanch lilies and bear grass on the drive up and thousands of glacier lilies here in the melting meadow. The yellow stands out against the snowy mountain and serves as a wonderful pop of color as everything begins to sprout and bloom beneath the melting snow.
I met Maureen and Brenda on the trail. They’ve escaped the flooding in Michigan only to find themselves smack in the middle of a legendary heat wave. Safe travels home to Grand Rapids. Sounds like you enjoyed the bounty that is the PNW. Next trip: Sunrise ! You’ll love it !
I stopped at Comet Falls after an hour at Paradise. I had heard there was still snow on the trail near the top, so I tossed my spikes back in my bag. At the trailhead is another unfortunate bit of signage: Nisqually River bridge out. I know better than to cross any water alone, so I walk up a ways through the woods to cool off.
Shadows and light. My favorite.
I consider Rampart Ridge from Longmire but there are lots of people everywhere now. I take a hard pass and head to lunch at Basecamp Grill. Cold water and a hot cheeseburger. Perfect. I’ve been trying to buy a gift card here. This was my third time and I figured it would be a charm. Nope. Foiled again. After lunch I head to Whitakers to get a gift for someone. You guessed it: Sold out.
I live in the luxury of being able to pivot. I get that. Gifts of change. It was a beautiful day despite the roadblocks. Sunrise opens up on Friday. It’s like a holiday to me, that plunge into the snow on Sourdough Ridge for the first time.
Bear grass and pasque flowers, lupine and paintbrush. Marmots and mountain goats.