the tatoosh wilderness and my guardian angel slug
Slugs are leaving Seattle in droves after the recent scorching heat wave. It was a strenuous afternoon Friday on the trail to Tatoosh Ridge, temperatures were in the mid 80 degrees and I was literally drenched in sweat from head to toe halfway up during the first couple miles (and a couple thousand feet of elevation gain). My zip-off pants were plastered against my legs like lycra, it was truly disgusting and I was embarrassed for anyone to see me, haha! I had dead legs and around a couple corners on steep switchbacks I gasped for air. It was my first hike in years where several times I thought about quitting and turning around to go home. Heat exhaustion is a real danger for wimpy Seattleites, I paid attention very closely to how much water I drank and rested more than usual.
Originally, I’d planned to leave ridiculously early in the morning for the hike but Oliver kept us up for several hours in the middle of the night and I didn’t feel good about leaving Diana to both take care of Oliver Fern and get Adam to preschool in the morning. It turned out I slept in with Oliver in bed with me so Diana was able to enjoy a relatively peaceful morning with Adam. A few hours later she gave me her blessing to head down to Packwood for a dayhike. I got a terribly late start but I had my heart set on this hike and I decided to seize the day. After all, I don’t know how many chances I’ll have to hike this summer with Oliver the wild card. The late start meant I’d walk out after sunset.
I was aiming for the old Tatoosh Lookout but I was positively thrashed by the time I reached the storm of wildflowers. The meadows were invigorating, they improved my outlook and helped me find my second wind. But I was still one tired petunia! So I hauled my pooped-out self to a lonely high point on the ridge with spectacular views down to Packwood, Mt. Adams, the Tatoosh Lakes, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens…. you name it! I was completely satisfied with my cranny on the ridge, I look forward to coming back. Either to visit Tatoosh Lakes or the lookout (I don’t know about both…..that would be a strenuous day….on the other hand, there are campsites here and there).
The 15,800 acre Tatoosh Wilderness located along the southern border of Mt. Rainier National Park received designation in 1984. It’s an utterly fascinating place to visit. The peaks (part of the little Tatoosh subrange) in the distance are part of the park, but the parkland below is not. It’s easy to imagine the boundaries of MRNP being redrawn to include Tatoosh Ridge.
Of course, one of the defining features of Tatoosh Ridge for those who stick mainly to the trail are the broad alpine flowerfields. Once you get the initial steep hiking out of the way, the meadow traverses are like a dream and there are miles and miles of roaming to the south and east. If I’d given myself an early start for a really long day, the Tatoosh lookout would’ve been easy to reach (and put the hike in the neighborhood of 11 miles).
I took my time shooting wildflowers on the way down: I was walking out in the dark so it seemed pointless to hurry. Well, I hurried a little bit at the end because the woods got spooky. I clanged my walking sticks together to keep hungry cougars or horny elk at bay.
I took the picture below shooting wide open on my Nikkor 24-70. That’s Indian Paintbrush blurred out in the background. The various meadows along the ridge were amazing not only for their sheer volume of flowers but for the variety of specimens. A “real” photographer could take some incredible images here: My wildflower landscape pictures invariably always end up looking like Impressionist paintings. I try to stick to close-ups like this one.
It was the final weekend of Seafair: Yesterday we watched the Blue Angels from Madrona Park. We went swimming in the lake, afterward. I jumped off a diving board for the first time in 300 years. Twasn’t pretty…..
I’ve got more Tatoosh pictures on the way, some of my favorites!