on rolling, garden-like parkland and having a splashing contest with your little brother

Last Saturday, we took the boys for an easy walk to a trio of alpine lakes via the Pacific Crest Trail just outside the eastern boundary of Mount Rainier National Park. There were gobs of beautiful wildflowers and only hatchling mosquitos (fliers mostly, not a lot of biters). En route through rolling, garden-like parkland, Adam demonstrated his bouldering skills: He disappeared over a rocky rise just off-trail and when I found him he was scaling a ten foot high wall of steeply downsloping granite.  I stayed calm. I didn’t want to disrupt his concentration. The alarm sensors inside my brain, however, were off the charts. As I’ve alluded to in the past, I have a distinct fear of heights. A funny thing happened as I stood there- I could tell Adam was completely in control of the situation. And I knew losing my marbles might only take him out of his comfort zone and so I stood there quietly, watching the son overtake the father. He and I had a productive discussion afterward about choosing safe places to clamber (no cliffs and whatnot) and the importance of the buddy system. To be completely honest, worrying about him climbing up some rocks pales in comparison to my current apprehensions of him walking the dog by himself around our in-city neighborhood, a new thing we’ve started the past couple weeks as part of his allowance. These are heady times for Adam (and by extension, us). We stopped for a long snack at an overgrown tarn that was perfect for letting Adam roam on his own. A mile later, at a junction on the Pacific Crest Trail we dropped 700 feet to the destination du jour. We chose a sunny beach halfway around the surprisingly deserted biggest lake and the boys and I swam for as long as we could withstand the frigid cold. I was nervous how long it took Oliver to stop shivering after a warm-up on the beach with his mom but he got back in the lake for another swim with Adam after we explored to a little bay with shallower, warmer water (pictured here). Man alive, a couple times Oliver gulped down some lake water when he was getting splashed by Adam. He hasn’t developed any symptoms of giardia, but I assume that only means he is now a certified carrier, haha!  After swimming was over, the entire family helped Adam hunt for frogs. We saw dozens (and lots of tadpoles with stubby legs) but they were too sneaky for us and used the bogs to their advantage. En route to a smaller lake in the basin for more exploring, we scouted numerous ponds and meandering stream-ways. Adam was a little aggravated with me for stepping on a humongous dragonfly and he made me carry it around like a parakeet until we could set it down in a thicket of mountain ash. Below is a look at the smaller lake, I liked this pleasant view from the eastern shore. Reluctantly, we decided it was time to go when shadows descended upon the lake basin and thick, hazy swarms of mosquitos backlit by the evening sun hovered in the treetops above. We packed out someone else’s trash so I reconciled picking a small bouquet of indian paintbrush and lupine for Oliver Fern to play with while he rode my shoulders up the short but steep half-mile path to the Pacific Crest Trail. My shoulders fell asleep on the way up (more painful than it sounds) but the last two miles to the trailhead were mostly level bare dirt and we enjoyed a spectacular silhouette of Tahoma at sundown. It was a very late ride home to Seattle. We passed a bevy of blue hour photographers clumping at Tipsoo Lake. The boys asked me to tell the funny story again about Uncle Eric on the tip-top of Yakima Peak. Unrelated, Adam asked us if we were sure we didn’t name him after Mt. Adams. Oliver fell asleep in Enumclaw with his chocolate milk shake between his legs….. not one sip.

It’s hot in Seattle. We took the boys for an extra long walk tonight because Oliver has been struggling to fall asleep. Before the final half-block home, we ran into neighbor Demetrious, who sent Adam home with a dark, wood-framed and humongous, horrid acrylic painting featuring an amber-brown sunset from someplace tropical. This was added to the two plastic, pink flamingo statuettes (no legs) Adam scored from neighbor Helen’s house last night. The flamingos were clearly destined for garbage day (propped alongside the recycle bin) and I calculatingly bargained with Adam if he knocked on Helen’s door and asked for the flamingos they were his but surprisingly to me he took the bait so our backyard is looking classier than usual.

Special Footnote-ish Epilogue: It’s hotter in Seattle. This afternoon’s post requires a minor explanation- I drafted this gibberish three or four nights ago and it was ready for the big-time except I didn’t want to share it without a handful of pictures. And then, every single darn night Oliver Fern decided to hold the Rascal Goodwill Games at bedtime. Hence the delay and your faded, yellowish rolled-up blog post laying on the ground in the bushes.

We got a late start to the morning (now that i’ve hopelessly confused you, i’m talking about this actual Sunday morning which just lapsed four or five hours ago) and I decided to take the boys down to the Market and so we could watch a little of the Pride parade. I think after a mere five minutes, I had to order Adam to stop accepting giveaways because his arms were getting loaded down with candy, stickers, flashlights, bracelets, Metro bus tickets, political pamphlets, streamers and various other rainbow-accented tchotchkes. The parade was entertaining (both before and after our visit to the Market) and seemed to have no end but the humidity was truly stifling and Oliver was making me super-hot because he was on my shoulders so we threaded our way through the crowd and walked a couple blocks to catch the #43 back to the house.

11 thoughts on “on rolling, garden-like parkland and having a splashing contest with your little brother

  1. What an amazing playground! And your story about Adam bouldering made me smile. Last year we took my 6yr old grandson to an old ruined abbey nearby (Fountains) and he disappeared for a few seconds. When I found him he was stood on a crumbly arch 10 ft up. Like you say, you don’t want to sound panicky but for a moment I was worried! I suppose we were not much better ourselves when we were young 🙂 Great post and some superb pics.

  2. Great post. Loving your blog TF. Can you divulge the trail info into the lakes?We live down here west of Mt. Rainier and are looking for trails where we can take the dog, so they can’t be in the park.

    • Hi Ilona. The lakes are Dewey Lakes and while they’re outside the park, they’re in the William O. Douglas Wilderness, and at the moment I’m forgetting what the specific regulations are pertaining to pooches in wilderness areas. For what it’s worth, we did see a dog on the PCT above the lakes. But we were the only ones down in the lake basin itself, that afternoon/evening.

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