From left to Right: Claire, Thorvald, Brad, Leo, Erin, and Greg all hiking in the Grove of the Patriarchs. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
We were up in Packwood this weekend from Friday until late Sunday because Steve had signed me up to do the Cascade Bicycle Club High Pass Challenge. I was pretty into it and had never biked in that neighborhood before so it sounded like a deal. The ride was on Sunday but we had all kinds of spare time and spare bike capacity on Saturday so once it was decided that we would hike up at the Grove of the Patriarchs, I hooked up the trailer, threw Thorvald in, and set off up from Packwood. It was 7 miles on Hwy 12 and the morning chill was around so I closed him up and pretty soon he was asleep.
You turn onto Hwy 123 north and it's just beautiful. After 3 miles, you reach the gate of impending doom. Welcome to Rainier National park. Abandon all hope, Ye cyclists who venture here. At mile 6 on 123, or just about 13 miles, I stopped at the entrance gate to the park and admired the hand hewn elements, the mission statement of the gate either holding in or holding back. I loved it.
I love my son. Perhaps someday, he will appreciate this as much as I do right now. The tree was merely named "big spruce" or something like that.
Walking back across the the suspension bridge. I think that this is Dino Rossi's plan for rebuilding 520 on such a small budget.
After a nice lunch with friends and some time wearing out boopschon, I headed out on my way, wanting to make the most of the $5 I spent to get into the park on my bike and thinking that I could get back across Paradise and back to Packwood in about 3 hours. This was the first stop of Box Canyon. I've driven by it a number of times and couldn't really figure out what the commotion was all about. Its really nice. It a river cut out of stone, seemingly precise, very loud, and just plain cool. I also like this photo because I go on these rides all over and people think that they could never do something like this. I say, even the dude with the belly can do it. You can too.
I'm not sure how this photo..... no, wait, a group of very nice Korean students took this photo of me. It's the downward side to the west of Paradise just south of the Nisqually River. This valley is remarkable and you could see for miles. Behind the camera however, Rainier was creating its own weather with a touch of snow.
At Longmire, you take a back road south of town and haul over this bridge to take the non motorized shortcut to Skate Creek Road. This looks really new and I had heard that the washouts were severe two Novembers ago. It's nice to see some rebuilding in the style of the previous gate. Skate Creek Road is a lovely downhill into Packwood that just made my giggle. It seems to be the perfect bicycle road. I recommend it to anyone looking for a nice, but challenging bike ride up over a pass.
On another note, I can't officially condone this but since bicycles are so easily lifted over a gate, it stands to reason that one COULD go into Mt. Rainier National Park as easily as I left it. You would have to contact me to find out how this is done, but seeing as bicycles pay the same rate as those infernal motorcycles, it could be supported that those arriving under their own power could arguably be absolved from paying the entrance fee.