August 2, 2022 /
5.5 miles (74.5 / 101)
My first official rove at Mt. Rainier’s Paradise was so friggin’ fun!
“What-if” anxiety had kept me from falling asleep the night before, followed by dreams of things gone badly when I did, but I let it all go as I put on my official shirt and hit the road with my latte at 6am.
The two-hour drive was overcast/misty rain/fog. And then, six miles from the park entrance, ka-bluey! The sun filtered from cerulean blue through the last wisps of fog and lit up the tall fir trees.
Though I had been caught behind a log truck and then a garbage truck earlier, I rolled through the entrance gate before it was staffed, and beat the road construction crew at the Christine Falls curve. I arrived with less time to spare than I had expected, but with still time to park in the closest lot and to get the lay of the land—and decide and change my mind multiple times about whether or not carry poles and to wear a down vest. It was chilly at 8:15, and, thankfully, not going to be as hot as it was last week, but in the end, I left it (and one pole) behind.
After answering a couple questions in front of the Jackson Visitor’s Center, at 8:20 I slipped through the barricade to the closed (not enough staff) second floor and headed to the meadow rover room to check myself in and chat with the substitute coordinator, who helped me choose a route based on last Friday’s trail condition report. Which, after a very hot weekend, was surely very different. After checking out a radio and clicker, I was off.
I chose my favorite trail to Glacier Vista to begin my day, one that isn’t as steep nor, oddly, as populated as the other two routes. Perhaps Deadhorse Creek is not as appealing a name as Skyline or Alta Vista. Right off the top there were a doe and two fawns grazing in the burgeoning wildflowers, and people photographing them, one with a phone and one with a huge lens on a tripod. The latter was off the pavement, the first of many reminders I would make to stay on the trail.
After six hours, 225 contacts showed on my clicker. That’s people I engaged with, not just greeted. I knew the answers to so many questions! I haven’t felt so knowledgeable in a long time. And there were some I will be looking up, if I can remember them. I had a pad and pen in my pocket, but there wasn’t much time for notes. I did tell two separate people the cloud they saw hanging over the mountain the day before was a lenticular cloud (not only did I know, but I was able to retrieve it from my brain), but I didn’t know what caused them. Now I do! Sort of.
I gave away all my wildflower brochures to grateful visitors—after knowing the answers to their queries—and all my “don’t step on the plants” buttons to children. I had no problem encounters, though I heard a harrowing one of another day from Paula, with whom I walked and talked for a while up the Golden Gate trail. A man had reported her for “yelling at” (his word) his daughter for continuing to walk off the trail and swing on the ropes. Geezus.
Gratifying and Crazy-people Highlights of the Day
Favorite question: Where can we go to see wildflowers? Granted, they aren’t yet at peak after the slow-to-melt snow, but . . .
Talking with other rovers, including Ann Marie who must be in her 80s, and has lived just outside the Park entrance for over 30 years.
The guests from Michigan who live not far from from my ancestral farm home.
Marmots. Always. No photos because I’m not carrying my real camera on this gig. I may update my phone today.
Talking to children.
This cute couple.
Identifying Mt. Adams and pointing out St. Helens, that no one notices.
The family picnicking in the meadow waaay off the trail, having gone around a barrier to get there.
Major excitement: Listening to the radio chatter between a rover and dispatch about someone who had fallen on ice on the second switchback of Golden Gate (the trail I had just been on) and badly hurt her ankle. Paula responded that she was near and would head up. She detoured when she saw me returning from having been a ways down east Skyline and snagged me from my conversation about where a couple might hike the next day, and we headed back up the trail. We were both near the end of our rove day, and tired, but we hustled up a ways, before deciding enough help was there to get the woman down when the EMTs with a litter would eventually be on the scene. Thank goodness! When I returned to the rover room, the coordinator on duty said the woman was in a great deal of pain, and the EMTs with the litter had not arrived yet. The crutches I saw heading up with two other EMTs obviously didn’t cut it, but at least there was someone there who knew what to do. (Paula was dying to know if the injured party was in the belligerent camera-club tour group she had spoken to at Myrtle Falls who were not wearing the right footwear.)
After dinner at Base Camp Grill (“Up a mountain, down a beer”), I headed home, grateful I had a nothing-but-fun day. I know they won’t all be so, nor in such perfect weather. But I won’t be anxious next week. I hope, like Ann Marie, I can do this for many years.
The drive is so much longer on the return than it is on the approach. And today, another drive: to Seattle and back (late) to watch Elliot play baseball! I may just sleep tomorrow. But there are dead pea plants to pull, and lettuce to plant. And a book to support.
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