Rich, Linda and I ran and hiked the Mowich Loop section of the Wonderland Trail on Saturday, in Mount Rainier National Park. As per Rich's wrist technology, the loop was 21 miles with over 7500 feet of climbing. I didn't really run well, in part because of the back but as much because of the time off. It didn't matter--it was good to get out and do something spectacular, after a long week. This qualified.
Up high, the heather, lupine and paintbrush literally lined the trail, red, blue and red, as if cheering you on. It was about as beautiful a display of wildflowers as I've ever seen. A Bonkers for Botany special.
The weather was not particularly good, with rain through the afternoon, and there were no views of Mt. Rainier, but I didn't really notice, in the moment. Every turn on the trail provided something new and world class, and the company--Rich and Linda--was the best. Many many laughs. And then some.
We started the loop at the Mowich campground. This was Rich's program from the start--I was grateful to be along for the ride. In the first hour or so, we climbed Tolmie Peak and checked out a lookout, where Forest Service workers were painting and making improvements. I sweated way more than I'd have liked going up, but just went with it.
Back to the Wonderland Trail loop--we descended Ipsut Pass, I think, by monster cliffs and through big tree country. Eventually we ended up down in the Carbon River area, which is a huge washout area--everything is big in the Rainier area, sort of like Texas. Big rocks, big trees, big glaciers, big creeks. We checked out the Carbon glacier, which I failed to immediately recognize-duh-and then crossed a really long suspension bridge. Lots of friendly backpackers on trail, a few of whom asked, "Didn't we see you at Mowich this morning?"
A long slog up another pass, climbing through a few different ecological zones, including the river valley, up to the mountain streams and fields of flowers, and then to rock, lava, and ice. We ran into some goats in the mist, and they ran away too quick for any good photos. I took lots of photos, but the persistent rain and the camera operator inhibited me from really capturing things. But here's a link to an album I posted.
A long day was completed with nice descent from a pass, through wildflowers, and then a two mile jaunt by Eagle's Roost to Mowich. A really cool loop with the best of people. Just what the doctor ordered for me.