A Rove & an Adventure

The Rove
4.7 mi / 103.1 of 101 / 136 connections

I’m up early on Tuesday and heading to Paradise in the dark. Last month, I signed up to rove from 7:30 to 2:30, before realizing after my first tour of duty three weeks ago that seven hours is a hella long day on the trails, talking with people. I like the 7:30 part, because there aren’t many people (and the early birds are my people), and I can hang around outside the visitor’s center until 8:30, not be out walking. My intent is to cut out at 1:30 and then sit at the Inn and work on book marketing stuff before heading to Ashford for dinner at the bar & grill. Then camping in my car and hiking on my own early Thursday (a new trail) and home by early afternoon. That’s my plan.

Sunrise along the route.

I opt to loop around several trails on the west side, and stay far away from Myrtle Falls where the crazies are because they think that destination and straight up the middle to Panorama Point are the only trail options. It’s my task—or I have made it my task—to educate.

Walkie Talkie clipped to my waistband (quickly realizing, but not soon enough to go back, that I forgot to note the call code of the coordinator on duty and hope to God I won’t need it), I head out Avalanche Lily then up Deadhorse Creek to Marmot Hill where I hang out for a while. There are marmots! They are sunning on the rocks, having had their fill of flowers for now. I want to come back as a marmot and live at Paradise.

I chat with Doug, who lived in Washington while in the military a lifetime ago, who lives in Ohio now. He’s 70 and thinks he needs to find a little place out here and move. Do I think he could be a Meadow Rover? Yes! He’s the first of three who ask me about meadow roving.

I head down Skyline, planning to switch to Alta Vista, but somehow miss it. Skyline is so freaking steep. I meet many huffing up it, and one little guy screaming bloody murder and running back down it, his dad in hot pursuit. I come on them again. He wanted to take a picture of the lady bugs and “we’re not going back” was not an acceptable response, so he took the matter into his own hands.

Nearing the intersection with Waterfall Trail, my next loop, I meet two women struggling up Skyline. I ask if they would like an alternate route, and suggest Waterfall. “I honestly don’t know why everyone takes this trail,” I say. “It’s the most difficult one up here!” They gratefully accept my suggestion.

I head out Waterfall then back down Deadhorse to the Nisqually Glacier Loop, which I’ve never been on. And it’s beautiful! It’s a mile plus, family-friendly/semi-stroller friendly for a strong pusher, paved trail with flowers and viewpoints looking straight into the moraine.

I meet a couple scoping out places to scatter the ashes of the man’s father where his wheelchair-bound mother can get. We talk for a bit, he with a tear in his eye.

Back at the visitors’ center with nearly an hour left, wishing I had said 12:30 instead of 1:30, I reluctantly head toward Myrtle Falls, since I said I was. I meet a mother hanging behind her family with a small human in full out tantrum mode. I ask him if he would like a button, and to be a deputy ranger reminding people to keep their feet on the trail. He stops screaming, but isn’t sure about the whole deal. I suggest giving it to his mom for him. I see them again later and he isn’t screaming, and he’s wearing the button. It’s my best deed for the day. You’re welcome, Mom.

I can’t face Myrtle Falls; I turn back to stand around and answer questions outside the visitors’ center. I see the scattering folks again, this time with mom, and give them another suggestion. I tell mom I’m so sorry for her loss and she reaches out her hand to mine.

The two women I suggested Waterfall Trail to appear, saying they were hoping they would see me so they could thank me for the trail suggestion. It was beautiful! They’d gone on to Myrtle afterwards and one of them said she was so glad for the more solitary walk earlier because she really wanted to hurt people at Myrtle.

I passed my summer mileage goal today! Fittingly at Paradise. 101 miles, one for each summer of my mother’s life. I guess I won’t stop.

The Adventure: Lakes High Trail
5.7 mi / 108.8 of 101 / new trail 6 of 7 (not counting the short paved one)

My plan was to be early to the one significant trail at Paradise I’ve not done, after snitching a cup of Inn-guests’ coffee and eating the breakfast I brought. But as I pass the road to Reflection Lake at 6:15, my car virtually turns itself down it to watch the sun come up from there.

By the time I have breakfast, and wait for the coffee pot to be refilled, and give in for a little while to the desire to just sit there and read my book, it’s 8:30. I could have gotten a walkie-talkie and gotten credit for a rove.

As it turns out, three parties I talked to Tuesday recognize me, and I chat with them; answer questions for others; and take a photograph of three young men and the mountain. Another couple asks if volunteers are provided housing. When I tell them I’m sleeping in the campground in my car for the first time since 1976, well, it turns out they too had toured the country in a van that bicentennial summer, and were just outside of Philadelphia—where I was—on the Fourth of July!

Looking around for the sooty grouse I hear cackling in her throat, I spot her right beside me. Figuring I have separated her from her babies, I move on a few steps. She scurries across the trail, calling to them, and two teenagers come out of hiding. There must be more, she keeps cackling and moving through the vegetation.

Lakes High Trail is the best kept secret in the park! It is beautiful! Down a more protected slope along Mazama Ridge, the flowers are at peak, especially the impossibly blue blankets of lupine. The question now is, do I tell people about it, or keep it a secret?

From Faraway Rock
Louise Lake
Reflection Lake, of the sunrise, below the Tatoosh.

It’s a hot day, one reason I wanted the early start I didn’t get, and the trail ends with an upwardly steep .6 mile. Meh. I’ve done worse for longer.

The Inn, in the pink circle, looks impossibly far away, with a deep valley between it and me.

I return to the Inn and buy a $4 cold San Pellegrino limonata (but pass on $14 pre-made sandwiches) and read my book. What with the late start and road construction outside the park, I’m home later than planned, tired and full on happy. I love my life. Best. Summer. Ever.

And next week, Camp Gigi with Elliot!

Double hearts, for each of my parents who showed me love for this place.

Seven and a half weeks to publication! Exciting book news will be rolling in often in coming weeks (e.g. an awesome trailer, pre-ordering information, special offers). Subscribe to my e-letter (on my website) so you don’t miss a thing!

16 thoughts on “A Rove & an Adventure

  1. Gretchen, what a wonderful adventure you have set for yourself for 70! Covid had just struck when I turned 70 in March 2020, so I am living vicariously thru you, and also thru Bonnie. I am not and have never been a hiker, but I love seeing the Pac-NW thru your eyes, photos and dispatches. Onward and ever upward!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is almost by definition “hitting your stride”. I have to admit I smiled through this whole post. It’s so perfect for you in every way. It is definitely your year. Every day I step into a place you’ve been in with your Mom and I am humbled to think you did it for years. You deserve all of the good heading your way. I watch with amazement and I’m really so very happy for you. And that Lakes Trail … gorgeous photos! Happy to see the marmots came out for you. So stinkin’ cute!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Once again, a marvelous adventure. And the photos are so rich and beautiful. So fun to be reminded of that gorgeous mountain and my own time spent there in my past adventures. It’s beautiful every season. That marmot looks like a wild bear!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you still get up there? I friggin’ love the marmots. A visitor showed me a video she took on Waterfall Trail, where I had just been! A marmot standing on its hind legs right at the edge of the trail, bending flowers down and eating them. It was an award-winning capture. Best thing ever!


  4. I love everything about this post – the push pull of solitude and community service, reading and hiking, sharing and keeping to yourself, the wonderful work you’re doing on your mountain and your wide range of knowledge and affection of it, and oh the photos. Thank you for sharing it all!

    Liked by 2 people

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