My Summer in Paradise

Sept. 5-6, 2022 /
11.9 miles (115 of 101) / 189 connections

They are my last meadow roves for Season 1. The snows could come in a couple weeks, or not for several weeks, but I have my own hikes to hike and a book to support. I’m blowing my Summer of 70 hiking goal (101 miles for my mother’s 101 summers) out of the water, but I still have one hike to do for my seven new hikes goal. So, time to leave meadow roving for next year.

It’s been the funnest, most rewarding thing I’ve done in a long time. I volunteered 34 hours (modest, but ten over the minimum requirement and with a late start) and interacted (beyond “hello”) with more than 1000 Paradise visitors from all over the country and the world. For a solo, quiet-loving, introvert hiker, I think that’s pretty good!

Day 1

On busy Labor Day, the mountain was fickle, clearly needing frequent breaks from the people. She was in and out of clouds until mid-afternoon, when she came out of seclusion for good.

My favorite place to hang out is by the map at the foot of Muir stairs or at the intersection of Waterfall and Skyline trails, suggesting an alternative route to “up the middle” on Skyline. It has been a dilemma, though: do I tell visitors about the Waterfall/Deadhorse Creek option—one of the things that make it my preferred being it’s quieter—or let them go on up the heart-pounding, breath-robbing, calf-burning, sun-exposed Skyline to where the options come back together before virtually everyone’s destination: Panorama Point?

I decided on a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. If they don’t ask for suggestions, I let them follow the herd. I got some pushback this week.

Pair One, looking at map, which I take as an ask. Man: “That sounds good to me.” Woman: “But that wasn’t our plan.” Man: “They go the same place.” Woman: “But what will we miss?” Me: “Nothing, other than burning lungs.” Man: “I think we should do it.” Woman: “Oh, I just can’t decide! You are really tempting me, but I think we should stick with the plan.” Me: “Enjoy your hike.” I may have rolled my eyes.

Group Two (many boys, three times over the requested group size maximum of 12, but I don’t say anything). A few start up the middle, a few ask which way they should go. I give my spiel. They decide on up the middle anyway. Two guys toward the end call to the others: “We should go this way!” The group ahead and behind them continue up. They call out: “Fine! We’re going this way!” Me: “Enjoy the quiet.” I may have rolled my eyes.

Pair Three. Woman One: “Which way should we go?” I give my spiel. Woman Two: “Let’s do it. Thank you so much. I’m glad we asked.” Me: “You are so welcome.”

Pair Four: Mother: “We’re confused.” Me: Gives options. Young-adult Daughter, eyes glued to her phone: “But that’s not what I put in the app.” Me: “Just go to the end of this trail and turn right.” Mother: “You know the saying, ‘if you want directions, ask someone who’s been there.'” Daughter: ignores, taps madly. Mother: waits patiently, perhaps rolls eyes. Me: “It’s well signed. Would you like a map?” Daughter: ignores. Mother: waits patiently. Daughter: “There! I got it changed.” Me: what ever. “Enjoy your hike!’

And so it went. Most people gratefully taking my suggestion.

After I check in at the Rover Room and get my radio, I return briefly to the steps before going out on the trails. Pair Three returns down Skyline from their hike and thanks me profusely for my suggestion to go up the other way. “It was beautiful!” “One of them tells me they met a couple still going up the middle, panting, and one said they were advised by someone down below to take a different route. “We should have listened,” she said.

Later, another couple in the parking lot, thanked me for my Deadhorse Creek suggestion: “You were spot on,” the man said.

For my own roves, I returned to the new trail I did two weeks ago, Lake High Trail, and did it in the opposite direction so I would know my preference, should I be asked in the future. The late-blooming flowers, so beautiful before, are nearly gone. It’s a short, short season. But the huckleberries are plentiful. The little known trail was probably a good one for Labor Day, there was nearly no one on it. And a copout. I should have had a higher clicker count on the busiest day of the year. Oh well. Also, I’ve seen more people at Paradise, it wasn’t too bad.

I enjoyed one more visit to Base Camp Grill, where a band was playing 60s music. I will miss Base Camp Grill! “Up a mountain, down a beer.”

Setting sun.

Day 2

Rising sun.

After a night on my car bed in the campground, I did my favorite hike, up Golden Gate and down east Skyline, past the place I left some of my mother’s ashes. It’s the hike I do every autumn for fall color, but I’m choosing a trail on the Sunrise side of the park this year. I haven’t been to Sunrise all season.

My least favorite thing to do is tell people to stay on the trail. Thankfully, unlike some of my fellow Rovers, I’ve gotten no belligerent responses (yet), including when I told a family yesterday, picnicking on a lovely knoll to which they arrived by going around crossed red flags with “STOP” written on them, to please make their way back to the trail.

Unlike that family, apparently there are people with enough ethics not to step over a barrier clearly marking a social trail as “Do not enter.” But, should they remove the barrier—in further insult, tossing it onto the fragile meadow—they are then free to walk down the not-a-trail. I put it back.

Goat Rocks fire in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest at 11:00 in the image. Currently at 80 acres; believed started by lightening.

I had some beautiful conversations, including one with a sweet four-year-old boy, who greeted me as he approached with, “Are you having a nice hike?” We chatted about the many insects (bees, butterflies, flies) in a clump of fading asters while his parents got his baby sister back in the backpack. I showed him a picture of a marmot so he could watch for them.

Toward the end of the hike, I spotted an elderly man nearly out of view sitting meditatively on a rock at Sluiskin Falls; well off the trail. I opened my mouth to call him back, then stopped. Maybe it’s where he proposed to his late wife, back in less restrictive times. Maybe he’s dying and it’s the last time he will ever be here. I moved on.

There is a bear family at Myrtle Falls, but, sadly, I missed them by a couple hours. I also missed some large, “aggressive” marmots on Golden Gate. My own marmot viewing was far too sparse, just three youngsters. And a film crew from REI was there “in various locations,” but not in my locations.

So that’s it for Summer of 70 meadow roving. Stay tuned for a few more hikes not at Paradise!

My official Summer of 70 selfie

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7 thoughts on “My Summer in Paradise

  1. So so wonderful. I’ll be interested to see how you approach next summer’s roving challenges now that you have one summer under your boots.
    Also, I teared up at this: Maybe it’s where he proposed to his late wife, back in less restrictive times. Maybe he’s dying and it’s the last time he will ever be here. I moved on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Nancy. I will be interested in that too. Like will I go when there is still snow, and just hang around in the parking lot? To date, I’ve never had reason to go early, because I don’t do snow sport. We shall see. I’m glad you appreciate my discretion. Sometimes rule breakers just don’t have to be called out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Can’t tell you how impressive it is that you had so many engagements! I’m not sure I’d be so patient with those who deliberately break the rules. They’re lucky they ran into you there. Also, way to go on the summer hiking goals. If anyone has earned this great year, you have! Keep it rolling!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve truly enjoyed your telling and photos of your summer roving adventure! Mt Rainier is fabulous any time and I’m grateful it’s in our own back yard. A wondrous playground for those of us who venture beyond. Thanks for sharing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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