Monday, June 18, 2018

Suntop Lookout

 This afternoon I drove up FSR 73 and 7315 coming back from Mt Rainier NP to do the short steep hike up to Suntop Lookout.
The trailhead is a short ways up from the parking area.
This trail gains 500 ft in 1/2 mile.
 The trail goes up through the forest.
 There were some views of Mt Rainier going up the trail.
 The fire lookout is currently closed.
 View from the back of the lookout to the north. In the far distance are the central Cascades and Mount Stuart.
 Back of the fire lookout
 A trail leads to the south with clearer views of Mt Rainier.
Heading back down the trail.

There were only a few wildflowers in bloom along the trail today:

Crystal Lakes Mt Rainier National Park

 After hiking up to Crystal Peak in Mt Rainier NP one week ago, where we looked down on a frozen Crystal Lake, I was curious to see how much snow had melted around Crystal Lake. I ended up hiking about 1/2 mile beyond reaching Crystal Lake for a 7 mile rt hike with 2,850 ft of elevation gain.
Crystal Peak and Crystal Lakes share the same trailhead, crossing Crystal Creek over this log bridge.
 About 1/2 mile up the trail, there is a short side trail (only a few steps) where you can see Mt Rainier.
 The trail is mostly in the forest and has a fairly steady gain.
 At 1.3 miles from the trailhead, the two trails diverged. I headed up to the left to Crystal Lakes
 There is a nice easier ascent section of the trail in the middle of this hike. Here there were lots of vanilla leaf in bloom.
 Along this portion of the trail, there is another opportunity to see Mt Rainier through the trees.
 A short portion of the trail before the turnoff to Lower Crystal Lake was covered in snow.
 I decided to view Lower Crystal Lake before continuing up the trail.
 Crystal Peak on the other side of  Lower Crystal Lake.
 more of  Lower Crystal Lake
From  Lower Crystal Lake it is 0.5 mile to Crystal Lake. Part of the trail here was covered in snow. It was not deep.
 First view of Crystal Lake
Wide angle photo from the north shore of Crystal Lake

 From Crystal Lake, the trail continues along the north shore and heads up to join the PCT north of Sourdough Gap. I decided to hike a ways up this trail. Along the lake, the trail is very wet and muddy.
 Lots of marsh-marigolds in bloom near the lakeshore.

 Heading up the trail there were lots of Pasque flowers and glacier lilies in bloom.
 Looking back towards the lake, Mt Rainier began to peek behind Crystal Peak.
 The trail was snow free for a short distance.

 By the time I reached 6,200' the snow covered the trail consistently. I decided to cross this snow field to get a look down on the lake.
More of Mt Rainier from behind Crystal Peak
View of Crystal Lake after crossing the snow field.
Three Way Peak, it's hard to tell in this photo, but there is a hole in the rock that is on the right side of the peak
 Enjoying the views as I head back down to Crystal Lake

Before leaving Crystal Lake, I crossed the outlet of Crystal Creek towards the camping area on the south shore.

Wide angle shot of Crystal Lake from the southwest shore. Three Way Peak is on the far left. I didn't see any other hikers this morning until I was more than halfway down the trail.

 Some of the other wildflowers and flora seen along the trail today:


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Cathedral Falls

 We drove out south of Riffe Lake in Lewis County to hike to Cathedral Falls. This trail is in the very northern most part of Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument.
Cathedral Falls is 1.1 miles along the Goat Creek Trail. We hiked 2.2 miles roundtrip with about 200 ft of overall gain.
The trailhead is at the end of Forest Service Road 2750.

 A short distance down the trail, there is a boot track that leads to a view point. This forest was protected from the 1980 blast by the hills to the south.

We found some wildflowers in bloom along this heavily forested trail
A little ways down the trail is a small cave.

 There were two small stream crossings along the trail.

 First view of Cathedral Falls (248 ft drop). With the light amount of water in the falls today and the light breeze, the water seemed to disappear before reaching the ground when we first arrived.
 The trail continues behind the falls

There is a good sized cave behind the falls

Watching the water bounce off a boulder below the falls from the trail behind the waterfall
We continued a short ways down the trail and found a boot path out for a nice view of Cathedral Falls from the other side
Lots of woodpecker holes on this tree.
 Some of the wildflowers we saw in bloom along the trail today: