Aunts Kari and Vicki gave us a National Parks pass for Christmas, prompting us to do extra nature exploration this year!
After our super-fun birthday trip to Rainier, I decided my parents and sister, who'd never been to a national park, must visit. They humored me as I planned all the details of the Sunday-Wednesday trip to Cougar Rock Campground. After sitting in an hour+ line just to get in to the park Sunday evening, they understood why I insisted on a mid-week visit.
We settled in to our campsite - the only one available when I made the late reservations - and watched the parade of fellow campers tromp through our site on the bathroom bath. Good thing privacy wasn't important to us :)
Monday morning, we left early for Paradise to hopefully beat the crowds. It wasn't too bad when we arrived, and the weather was phenomenal!
We donned hiking gear and just planned to explore around the immediate Paradise area. We started uphill to Myrtle Falls.Nice view, huh!?!
We weren't sure where to go from there but decided to follow our map and head up Skyline Trail to Golden Gate Trail. The loop distance looked doable for our group. I'd promised Mom, whose recovering from an ankle injury, that we wouldn't do anything too ambitious. Oops. The distance wasn't bad, but there was a lot of elevation gain what we couldn't see on the map. (I should have brought a topo map!)
We just plugged away at the hills, taking in the views and the early wildflowers as we went. Avalanche lilies were out in full force:
Eryn found a couch!
We took a lunch break in this lovely spot:
The Tatoosh Range sits just south of the mountain. We could see Mount St. Helens beyond (in the middle):
Dad and I planned to hike the next day in the Tatoosh.
Snow patches covered the trail as we gained elevation:
The sideways sliding hurt Mom's ankle, so she decided to head back down while we completed the loop. That little dot on the snowfield is her:
Eryn, Dad and I reached the Golden Gate Trail intersection after not too much more climbing. I think the sign said it was 6,400 feet.
Summit pics before we head down. Tatoosh in the background:
Turn around... Rainier summit in the background:
We lost elevation quickly as the Golden Gate trail traversed down the steep hillside. Soon we were back at the visitors center and reunited with Mom after her solo alpine adventure.
Dad humored me :)
We bought souvenirs in the shop and watched the video in the theater. Then it was time to take our tired, sun-burned bodies back to camp.
Our day of light exploring turned into quite an adventure! It was so great to share that experience with my family :)