Paradise

Imagine a place where the views are amazing, you get to hang out with your buddies, you can stuff yourself silly at a seemingly endless banquet table, and you can sleep in in a major way.  Would it be fair to call it Paradise?

Back in mid-August, a little bee (read, some other dude’s blog post) reminded me that the wildflowers on Mount Rainier are impressive at that time of year and that the ample water from last year’s snowpack should yield a healthy crop.  Memories of a trip last year (Getting High With Flowers parts one and two) only added more motivation for a return trip.  A quick text to similar-minded friends and off we went.

While the weather was cooperative this year, the conditions were less than perfect. It’s been a summer full of fires this year, and smoke coming down from Canada thickened the air with a grey haze that cut visibility and muted colors.

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Looking back at the Paradise Lodge from the trail

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This was a mixed blessing.  Although the views were not as crisp, parking space lotto was not a factor and the trails were not as crowded with onlookers from hither and yon, come to ogle what is usually a popular explosion of flowers.

_72D2795-8-12Keeping an eye closer to the trail, less obvious delights are found.

_72D2705-8-12.jpgWe were not the only creatures enjoying the flowers, butterflies and other bugs took in both their beauty and their nectar.

Some flowers wore more unusual crowns.

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With a muff top reminiscent of the bearskin hats of British Grenadiers, the seedhead from a Pasque flower played guardian to a family of Asters.

_72D2703-8-12.jpgA set of fuzzy columns reminded me of an undersea soft coral.

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Pink Mountain Heather crowns a bushy evergreen

Further on, Indian Paintbrushes add color.

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Climbing higher, skirting the edge of the timberline we found more fields of flowers and an alpine stream laying in a mossy bed.

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Crossing over the ridge, the evening sun began its disappearing act, adding a dusky urgency to getting back down the trail before it got too dark.

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But, you might ask, what about that banquet table, and sleeping in in a major way?

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the Hoary Marmot.

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This big guy was a couple of feet long and should weigh around 15 pounds. We must have seen eight or nine marmots in different areas, sometimes alone, sometimes with two or three friends (family members?) along for the walk. And for the most part, their business of the hour was munching down.

Those fields of flowers were the banquet table. So intent were they on dinner they gave us little more than a wary glance as we approached, sometimes quite close.

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Snacking on Lupine

Although they look like a beaver with a furry tail and their whistles are heard across alpine valleys, they’re the largest members of the ground squirrel family.  Eating is serious business, that big after dinner nap lasts seven or eight months.

We humans, looking upon the beauty of this area have called it Paradise.  But if you were a marmot, could it be anything else?

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42 thoughts on “Paradise

    1. I’ve never found another place where the mountain wildflowers are as spectacular, although there must be some comparable places out there. Marmots are always fun to come upon, but I’ve never seen so many in one outing.

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    1. This is one of those, point your camera almost anywhere and get a beautiful picture places. The challenge was limiting how many to include in this post – I probably went a bit overboard as is. I guess that could be another definition of Paradise. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Robert. I had two or three other sunset shots I was considering adding too, but that one was probably the moodiest. And those green grenadier hats are one of the things I always think of when I think, Mount Rainier wildflowers.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I remember your posts on this last year, and it’s just as fun reading about it again. I love the shots of the flowers in the foreground and those gorgeous mountains behind. I rather like marmots (they remind me of hiking in other mountains), but that first one is a behemoth!

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    1. It was a new visit to an old friend, how to make it interesting again? Let the pictures speak for themselves. That first marmot was a big guy, and we got fairly close. That was one thing about this trip, not only did we see more marmots, several of them were quite close!

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      1. Many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I studied periglacial geomorphology (arctic landforms). Back then, the arctic was less accessible. Today, I highly recommend placing The Dalton Highway on your bucket list. It is a four hundred mile drive from Fairbanks to Deadhorse (Prudehoe Bay).

        North of the Brooks Range, the arctic meadow stretch uninterrupted from Hudson Bay to Siberia and in the summer, tens of thousands of caribou graze alongside the road. You have to be careful because every once in a while, the ten thousand on one side decide to join the ten thousand on the other side – and you have to wait until they do.

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  2. We are “on the road” visiting family and have been traveling for six weeks. Am way behind with reading my favorite blogs and commenting on them. But I snuck a peak into your delightful post. Oh those lupines !!! I love their color. And I have never seen or even heard of marmots before, so that and your photos are a real treat!
    Peta

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  3. I love the Pasque flower! When I was a kid, we went to South Dakota practically every summer to visit family. I remember those flowers growing wild there — I think it’s their state flower.
    The Hoary Marmot looks like he’d be a great character in a series of children’s books. “Harry the Hoary Marmot Discovers Mt. Rainer” — you should get on that.

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    1. A children’s book – I never thought of that. Who says you need to have had kids to be qualified to write one? But perhaps I should defer; fending off the lawsuits triggered by trauma from the inevitable scattering of dreadful puns would be a pain. 😉

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  4. Stunning! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of a marmot before. And now i know they’re members of the ground squirrel family. Are they a protected species? I ask because when I was a little girl old ladies had marmot fur coats.

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  5. The picture of the butterfly on the flower is gorgeous! In Mongolia, we literally went on a marmot hunt. They seem to be pretty elusive. Did you have to zoom to get the last shot? And I loved the views of the mountains too!

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    1. The butterfly shot grabbed my eye right away when I was checking to results of the shoot. I was zoomed in a bit on that marmot – full frame equivalent of about 200mm, but he was only about 15 feet away.

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  6. Where’s that love button? I’m glad you made me aware of your blog, and this post. We were up there mid-August and the trails were still deep with snow, but shortly afterwards that melted, and the fires became an issue. Still you saw fantastic wildflowers, in my mind – and I’m very jealous about the marmots. We’ve been to the mountain at least half a dozen times but haven’t seen one yet. Gives me hope.
    Your photos are really nice and I thoroughly enjoyed this post – thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lynn. It’s always nice to discover a new site worth following. I was just scrolling through a few of your back issues and am looking forward to the new ones. As for the marmots, I’ve seen them up there before, but not nearly as close.

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  7. Wonderful pictures Dave and how great to be reminded about these wild meadows that still exist in many countries. They are just heavenly and lying down you could go to sleep from the drone of the bees and the soft whisper of the wind.

    miriam

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