Given the short hiking season at Sunrise and an opportunity to return today, I headed back to the mountain. Today was clear as a bell so no dramatic sunrise, but the alpenglow on Her Majesty is always worth the early drive.
I decided to investigate a couple trails that have much less elevation and check out conditions on Sourdough Ridge. The parking lot was reasonably quiet for Monday morning. Bathrooms are still stocked and maintained. The snow is already beginning to melt on the way up to Sourdough Ridge so the route is now flagged and there is less damage in the meadows. The Pasque flowers are just beginning on the way up to “the bench”.
The ridge is still buried in snow. The “bench” is half buried and the prospect of a hike along the ridge is looking pretty sketchy. As the temperature rises the huge mounds of snow are softening up making it a bit treacherous for those less confident on the slippery stuff. It’s certainly doable, just dicey.
I wandered down through the picnic area and along the maintenance road before heading to the Silver Forest Trail, accessed in the back of the parking lot opposite Sourdough Ridge. Picnic tables were half buried too. Maybe by the weekend it will be cleared out.
Silver Forest Trail is my favorite walk in the Park. At just a little over a mile to the end of the maintained trail it is the perfect leg stretch. The flowers will be at least a couple more weeks but it looks like a fabulous season ahead. There is some snow to cross but after about a quarter mile it is snow free. Views are stunning.
I wandered a little beyond the maintained trail but I was eager to have my back to the sun so I decided to head to Shadow Lake. This is where it got interesting.
Continuing on this trail to Sunrise Camp, it is snow-free. Until it isn’t. There are more snowfields to cross here and with the snow melting quickly, it is a slippery trip to Shadow Lake. Again, certainly doable for most, just dicey in spots.
Shadow Lake is mostly frozen over, but beautiful. The birds seem to like it here as well and I lingered by the lake in their company. Trail is hard to keep track of so please step lightly here until it melts enough to show a clear way to the bank.
About 150 yards past Shadow Lake on my return trip, I had my second bear encounter in as many trips this week. This one rattled me, as I had left my GPS in the car and had encountered only one person on the trail since arriving. It was about 20 feet from me and BIG. I did try to snap a photo, but it was way too close for comfort. I backed away slowly in the opposite direction of the bear. Very surprised. I’ve never encountered a bear so close while hiking alone. I open-carried my bear spray the rest of the way back 😊
Mostly they are uninterested, but keep an eye out! This was the second sighting for me in just three days. You can see a photo of Mama here. All in all, it’s slowly melting out and the flowers should be popping up this week.
I also met two women from across the country in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. I hope you have enjoyed your day at Mount Rainier Park !