Fall in Paradise

This really hurts.  I’m gasping for air.  Why does it have to hurt so much?  For 14 years I lived in towns at or above this elevation.  But I’m a (not much above) sea level dweller now, so trying to run trails at Paradise is challenging.

Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park.  Starting elevation 5,400 feet.  It’s late September and the colors are starting to peak.  It reminds me a lot of Denali, only sunnier and much warmer.  I’ve decided to run a 6 mile loop through the meadows of Paradise, to look for some running inspiration.  With gorgeous colors in the ground plants, bushes, and trees, and and waterfalls streaming from the glacier-covered volcano towering over me, inspiration is not hard to find.  It is however, a lot of work.

The trail flattens out a bit, I hit my stride.  I make my way to a beautiful overlook, and get a great view in one direction of Mount Rainier, the glaciers, and a waterfall, and in the other direction views of the Tatoosh Range, and Mt. Adams in the distance.

I continue on.  Up.  Down.  Up.  Flat.  Down.  Up.  Another overlook, this one overrun with people, but for good reason.  The view is fantastic.  On this crystal clear day, over the Tatoosh Range three of the other Cascade volcanoes are visible – Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helens.  Four large volcanoes visible in one shot.  Not bad.

Two women nearby by.  One asks about my shoes.  My Five Finger toe shoes typically gather attention.  She says she has been considering trying them, I give my enthusiastic thumbs up.  She is a traveling physical therapist, recently arrived in the Seattle area.   After a minute, I start to depart.  She continues the conversation.  We talk more.  They drop hints about dinner ideas.  Again, I start to leave, and she stops me.  Finally, we say our goodbyes.

I get 100 yards up the trail when I realize my obliviousness.  I go back to invite them to dinner, but they are gone.  You snooze, you lose.  Shuffle your feet, lose your seat.

Onward, trending downward.  The colors are amazing; I’m glad I brought my small camera.

I return to Paradise Inn, with just minutes to spare to catch the employee shuttle back home.  Success.

(Pictures look prettier big. Click on any of them to see full-size)

 

Days later.  I run Rampart Ridge in the Longmire area.  I somehow never hiked this trail, but I’m astounded at how beautiful it is.  It’s cloudy and raining of and on, but it fits the scenery perfectly.  Outstanding.

And last, a few more photos from this fall at Mount Rainier.  The colors were spectacular, a fitting end to a beautiful (though hot and dry) summer.

 

Next adventure?  As I write this, I am 25 hours away from being on a flight to Taipei.  I’ll spend 15 days there (2 days work, the rest vacation), and then 7 days in the Philippines.  I’m pretty excited to see some friends again in Taiwan, and to have the chance to explore more of this fascinating country! 

 

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