Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Farewell Washington

On the last full day of my visit, Ru and I drove out to Mount Rainier and hiked around. This is the trail on which I found the banana slug.

On the information sheet that the ranger gave us at the entrance, it recommended that all hikers carry the "10 Essentials" which include: a topographic map, compass, extra food, extra clothing/rain gear, emergency shelter, first aid kit, flashlight and extra batteries, sunglasses and sunscreen, pocketknife, and matches. Guess how many we had with us? Um, extra clothing? We did have water and crackers in the car to snack on afterwards.

We got into the park via Carbon River Road, and hiked 3 miles to the Carbon Glacier viewpoint. Being from the desert, I had never seen a glacier before, let alone snow during the month of May!

To get to the glacier, we crossed another suspension bridge. This one seemed a little less sturdy than the one in Canada, but I think maybe that was because it was longer. Also the plank design seems to have a lot more give than having several beams parallel to each other.

After crossing, I spotted this sign:

Of course, we had managed to break rule numbers 1 and 3 on the way over. What's the point in crossing a suspension bridge if you can't try to bounce your friend off of it? When I showed my mom the pictures last weekend, she pointed out that she thinks we broke number 2 as well.

From the viewpoint, we hiked down into the river bed, which is a big "no-no" as well. As we got closer, two other hikers passed us on their way back from the glacier. They recommended actually crawling inside, but "one of you at a time, so the other one can stand on the outside and watch for rocks." As we got closer, you could see and hear small rocks continuously falling down the slope of the glacier.

There were two wide caves at the base of the glacier, and water was dripping down from the mouth of the glacier. Call me a wuss if you want, but I decided that at this point I didn't want to make the 2006 Darwin awards. I could just see the headline: "Medical student dies in avalanche, last photo on camera is sign saying 'Stay away from glacier'." Plus, if I had died 5 days before graduation, that would just suck to not have the title after all this time and money.

Why is it that only famous people get their names in the headline, and everyone else just gets their work title? Wouldn't it be just as dramatic to say "Kate dies in avalanche" and then explain who I am in the article?

Anyway, we took our photos and hiked back out of the river bed. From a distance, the glacier had just looked like a wall of rock, but closer up, you can appreciate the actual shape of the ice. It kind of reminded me of Superman's Ice Palace, but a lot less stable.

On the way out of the park, we stopped at Chenuis Falls, which is only .2 miles off the road. It was pretty, but I didn't think it was near as impressive as Brandywine Falls. On the way onto the trail we passed another hiker in flannel with a beard, and beautiful green eyes. He kind of looked like the Brawny paper towel guy, and I tell you he was HOT! I am not normally attracted to lumberjacks, so at this point we decided we had been in the woods for far too long!

Total hiking distance: 6.4 miles. The park road is very muddy with potholes big enough to bury children in, so if you want to do this hike, I would recommend driving a truck rather than a compact car! Also, there are no "facilities" on the trail. If you have had your morning coffee, you may find yourself peeing in the woods while your buddy keeps a lookout, just 40 feet above the heads of some picnicking lovers. --I'm just saying hypothetically, that could happen.

That night, we stayed up late watching movies. Unfortunately, we had to get up super early to take me to the airport, and poor Ru had a full day of work ahead of her.


~~Silk said...

Beautiful photos. I confess I paged through quickly looking for the green-eyed brawn --- phooey!

ru said...

I am posting a comment to let you know I read it.

ru said...

And to say that the hypothetical statement made me laugh.

ru said...

And that you had a mistake in the last sentence. It should say we had to get up super early so I could go to the airport...