Lake Eleanor ~ Grand Park
Mount Rainier National Park
JULY 16 - 18, 2010 A Mountaineers backpack trip to Mount Rainier National Park. We were supposed to hike the PCT from White Pass to Chinook Pass, but there was still too much snow in the mountains. We backpacked to nearby Lake Eleanor and day hiked to Grand Park instead. The flowers were just starting to bloom in Grand Park, and although we were too early for a showy display of lupine and paintbrush, the meadows were carpeted in gold with accents of magenta, white and blue. The weather gods definitely smiled on us this weekend, and we hiked long hours content under sunny skies. I stayed behind at Grand Park on the second day while the rest of the group hiked on to Berkeley Park, and I met a Mountaineers CHS group, most of whom are my good friends. From the far end of Grand Park I saw Mt. Stuart lurking in the distance, while the rest of my group hiked to flower-filled Berekley Meadows. I chatted with many hikers while they were gone, but by mid-afternoon, Grand Park was deserted. I found myself alone in the vast meadow with only the sun and the flowers and the Mountain. It was a rare gift, to be able to listen to the silence and know that, after I returned to my busy life and all the noise of the city, this peaceful meadow would continue to be a place of beauty and calm. Soon enough my group came back and we returned to camp for the night. A couple of backpackers in another site hiked back to the lower meadows at dusk and came back with photos of an enormous cinnamon-colored bear.
The bugs were plentiful this weekend, but it seemed a small price to pay. After hiked back to our cars, we drove to Chinook Pass and hiked around Tipsoo Lake, still surrounded by snow, and watched as a couple of intrepid hikers braved the snow-covered PCT along Naches Peak.