Adventure Log: Owyhigh Lakes

July 10, 2020

Lil darlin’ it’s been a long, wet, lonely summer…but I can see clearly now the rain is gone! It’s going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day!

The altered song mash-up played through my head as I drove through early morning fog with the promise of sun ahead, then hiked into the sparkling meadow. It has been one of those years, wet. (The good news is, I haven’t had to be concerned about my broken sprinkler system.) I’ve been watching the forecast for weeks for sunny days, and grabbing them when they come. More often than not, the day that hinted at sun in the 10-day, changes to wet at the last minute. But not this week! It went from just okay to glorious!

Owyhigh Lakes in Mt. Rainier National Park has been on my list for a long time. I was on the road before daybreak and didn’t realize it really was not clearly going to be a sunshiny day until I was out on the Jackson Prairie, 30 minutes from home, getting my latte. It was too late to crush my spirit though; it would be what it would be and I would soak it in. But as I headed down the beautiful Hwy 12 toward the hills, the sun was working hard. Hope soared.


(I need to point out that not once did I make a wrong turn or at any point not know exactly where I was and where I was going. Nor did I leave my poles in the car. But not to disappoint, I did forget to take my trail snack out of the insulated bag.)

The first Rainier views were absent the mountain, and then it opened up!


Briefly. The clouds dropped back down and  the tunnel was engulfed. It was a little moist, and cool enough at the parking area to leave my jacket on.



But it was only 7:15. The rain was gone and all was well. The clouds were going to lift. And they did.



And here comes the meadow, oh the alpine meadow.




And shazaam! If the meadow wasn’t enough, there be lakes.


The first person I had seen since I left the car rose from his flat rock sit spot as I approached, pulled up his buff in respectful protocol, and wished me a lovely day. The meadow was mine.

Snow-dotted Governor’s Ridge

I’ve never seen so many pasqueflower phases all at once. All that is missing is the prime one. Perhaps I could have found it had I not made a quick exit of the meadow. Keep reading.

A youngish couple arrived and found another sit spot down the trail, and that was it. For thirty minutes I sat and reveled and breathed. (And missed my trail bar.) I had a little day dream that a bear or a goat wandered into view down by the lakes, beyond where the couple sat, and in my mind I pointed it out to them. But it was just us. Until I glanced over at them, and he pointed to something beyond me. Okay, this day is perfect now.

I had planned to hike on through the meadow and a little beyond, though I knew from trip reports I would soon encounter snow. But when the couple quickly got up and sped past me back the way we had come, I decided without deciding I didn’t want to be alone with a protective mama bear. I grabbed my poles and hustled after them to stay in shouting distance. I never saw them again though. And others were coming up the trail; I would not have been alone.



I’ll be back. Maybe a couple weeks later in the season next time, when the flowers are lush and the snow is gone. I live at the front door of paradise, my good fortune never far from mind.

I was back at the car at 11:15, meeting some 30 people (nearly all masked) and well spread out on the 3-1/2 mile fir and hemlock trail. The day was young, so I drove on up to Sunrise for a look at Herself (many people there) and sat in the car to eat my lunch with a view.


One more side jaunt toward Chinook Pass to see what Lake Tipsoo looks like shortly after the road opens. Still largely covered with snow on ice, and my trail from last year under deep snow. I may be  back for the Naches Loop again this summer.


There was heap lot a snow this year— the lowlands rain equivalent—and the snow pack is slow to melt. It’s been a wild year.



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