We've been heading to the mountains the past week. Last Thursday we went to Big Four Ice Caves. This is a popular trail on the Mountain Loop Highway. It is one of my happy spots; I used to go there once or twice a year for some down time. You get to experience several different habitats within a short distance; wetlands, forest, river, and mid-alpine. The trail ends at the base of a spectacular cliff, with waterfalls plunging down into snow piles left over from the winter's avalanches. The rushing waters melt caves underneath the ice. The snow creates a cool microclimate in the basin. It is gorgeous. It's a one mile hike on a gentle trail to the caves. My kids did a great job, and I let them play for quite awhile in the basin before heading back to the car.
On Saturday I took some women hiking for the Edmonds Parks Department. It was part of the Women in the Woods hiking series I created. We went to Federation Forest State Park near Enumclaw. It is an Old Growth preserve along the White River. It is shady, cool, and peaceful. We saw only one other person on the trail on this sunny Saturday. It was so refreshing to be out in the forest, with calm women and time to let my thoughts settle.
The kids stayed with my parents for the weekend, so I went down on Monday to get them. I spent the night there, and on Tuesday we went to Mount Rainier National Park. We drove up to Paradise, and yes, it was like Paradise.
The flowers were in full bloom, the sun was warm and bright, the Mountain was showing herself. We visited the new Interpretive Center and the gift shop, and then headed out for a short hike to a waterfall.
There were so many people there, but we still enjoyed the atmosphere of the Mountain. Annika expressed an interest in climbing to the top; I told her she needs to grow just a bit more and get stronger. She replied that she is a strong hiker and a big girl.
I really couldn't argue with that. Gabriel is starting to know most of the flowers, and both the kids got several compliments on how cool they looked decked out in their backpacks and hats. I let them use the trekking poles even though the trail was paved.
After the hike we drove down to Reflection Lake for a bit of play. The bugs were bad there, and Gabriel fell into the lake, so we cut that visit short. But it was gorgeous there, too. We made a few other stops during our day in the park, and took tons of photos. I felt so alive, almost giddy. I wish Rainier was a bit closer so we could go there more often. I would like to do a bunch more hiking there in the future.
We have another hike planned for Friday. I am in the mode of trying to make the most of summer and enjoying these sunny days. Last summer just felt too short, and I am trying to fill up my spirit with light and joy. Being in the woods makes a huge difference in my mood, and I am so happy my kids enjoy being out, too.