Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One Little, Two Little, THREE Little FISHES!

Maggie's got the fishing-fever!

We're up at our family cabin with my sister, Kim & my nephew, Jake & her in-laws, Lance & Annette. Lance likes to fish, so he was kind enough to show Maggie how to cast yesterday morning & even though she didn't catch anything, she LOVED it! But the real "FEVER" hit later that day when one of our neighbors, Tommy, stopped by to take her back down to the lake to try some more...
He spent a few hours with her down at the lake up the road from our cabin & he was so wonderful with her - super patient, letting her try to cast a few times & then helping her get the line out there. One time, she actually casted alone further out than Tommy's line! While we were watching & taking pix, she got lucky...

"Look mom!!! I caught one all on my own!!"
"I wanna hold it for a sec & then let it go!"
 Bye, bye little fishy!
 After a few more minutes, we left them to their fishing for a little longer while we went back to get dinner started...
and apparently, that's when she got REALLY lucky, because this is what she came home with...
 Her proud catch!

 Getting ready for the grill...my sister doesn't like fish - not even to look at them, so the photo below is a giant step for her: placing lemons inside the fish while I capture it! (She was even brave enough to take a TINY bite offered by Jake during dinner! YAY!)

Thanks little fishies...you were a great addition to our steak dinner last night! And, a BIG THANKS to Tommy for taking her AND letting her borrow the rod for a few more days! What a sweetheart!!

That's it for now! We're just chilling here in the mountains, enjoying all the peace & quiet & cooler temps!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

a little vacation, part 3 (HVY PIX!)

Ok, so here's the last of the pix from our trip to Washington State...all from Mt. Rainier National Park. I even pulled a few images from Nick's summit of the mountain!
I'm not really sure where to begin in describing Mt. Rainier & the park that surrounds it. I was in awe of the beauty that surrounded this sleeping giant, if not the mountain itself. Maggie & I spent 2 1/2 days exploring the park together, barely skimming the outskirts of the mountain. All the while, wondering how Nick was doing on his climb. You have to understand something about Nick & his determination to climb these majestic mountains, it's like an addiction for him now...the pace of placing one foot in front of the other as he listens to his breath & the crunch of snow, ice or rock. He says it's the hardest thing he's ever done & yet it's peaceful & so rewarding when you reach the summit & you can see forever & know that you have accomplished what only some have before you. It's an elite group that reach the peaks of these big mountains; sometimes the weather keeps them away; sometimes their health is effected by the altitude so much so that they cannot reach the top & may never try again. This wasn't the highest peak Nick as summited -he spent 2 weeks in Ecuador last year & reached his personal best of 19,400 & hopes to try for Aconcagua in 2013. Yes, he is gone from us for weeks at a time & I worry so very much, but it is a passion that he will not always be able to fulfill as he gets older. Climbing to him is like art & photography is to me & I would hate for him to tell me that I couldn't create anymore!

All right, I'll stop on that thread...more photos of the mountain later!
Now let me share some of the beauty of this glorious park...
me & mags at paradise valley
Almost everywhere we looked, there were beautiful valleys, waterfalls & so much green! (We live in Colorado, where we're lucky if the grass stays green through our hot, dry summers!)
a waterfall from the road
more amazing falls along the road
getting "wet" right on the road
Beautiful canyons carved by the rushing water of so many rivers, not to mention the rains!
box canyon
But the trees & the moss is what really amazed me...
We looked at the labeled rings on this cut tree above, but I can't remember when they estimated the first year was, although it was cut down by a paper company in 1953. I can't even imagine how tall it was let alone how much paper it made!
We walked through a forest of 1000+ year old trees, called The Grove of the Patriarchs Trail. This forest was amazing! Trees growing on trees. Trees so tall that their tops have broken off & fallen to the forest floor only to be absorbed & more trees growing in the rubble. Trees so big around, it would take an entire family of 5 to encircle it & hug it! Just WOW!
the suspension bridge we had to cross to get into the really BIG trees!
some perspective
moss covering everything
It was hard to capture how eerie everything looked covered in the fuzzy green moss, but it was kinda spooky as well as beautiful!
Below is a picture of a giant that fell across the trail & broke. It feels like something out of a movie, reaching out to swallow you up!
 Not only did the height of the trees catch my eye, but the bark itself was beautiful...
 What do you see in these? I see faces & monsters. I see rivers & map-like creations...

On our last day, as Nick was descending the mountain, we walked along the Trail of the Shadows, just beyond the main entrance to the park in a little "town" called Longmire. This is where the park headquarters was established when the park became a national park in 1899 & was previously the home of James Longmire. You can read more about his contributions to Mt. Rainier HERE, but he was instrumental in bringing tourists to Mt. Rainier even before it was a national park. He opened a lodge in Longmire, believing that the springs surrounding the area were filled with healing minerals & effervescence.
the touring cars
A handful of cars like this one were made specifically to carry tourists up to Paradise, the area just at the base of the mountain. The roofs were convertible, so that visitors could get a full view of the area around them. They're really cool!

the meadow where longmire's horse wandered off to that led longmire to this area
one of the many springs longmire developed for healing along the trail of shadows
an employee's "home" along the trail
maggie along the trail
a little family of geese
a steller's Jay

We came across these cool leaves in the wetter part of the trail...they were huge, almost prehistoric feeling! I'm sure the plants they originated from were ancient!
Apparently the park supervisor in the early 1900's didn't like the architecture of Longmire's homestead & lodge & they were eventually torn down. There is a "newer" lodge there now, as well as a ranger station, a small museum, a gift shop & this great non-working gas station...

As we came out of the Trail of Shadows, we were treated to this wonderful sight:
 a mama deer and...
Her sweet, sweet baby!
Sadly, they weren't as afraid of us as they should have been, but oh, what a wonderful sight!
how close!
We also came across this awesome bridge that a ranger told us about & had it been a clear day, we'd have been able to have a stunning view of Mt. Rainier! But, the bridge was cool enough!
Ok, so that's a glimpse of what we saw on our few days of exploration while Nick climbed. 
I have TONS more too! What can I say, I'm shutter-crazy!
Here are a couple pictures I snapped at the Paradise Visitors Center - where the trail starts for climbers...there was still a LOT of snow up there for the beginning of July!
Apparently, they receive an average of 671 inches/yr - making it the snowiest place in the US! In 1971-72, they had a record snowfall of 1122 INCHES! That's 93 FEET of snow! Can you imagine? And, in 1935, Mt. Rainier was host to the US Olympic trials for slalom & downhill skiers! 
What a crazy ride that would have been!
wall of snow
maggie on the snow behind the paradise lodge
this was the day of Nick's ascent to camp muir - she's just peeking out
a close-up of the steps leading to the trail head
at the beginning of the trail...someday maybe?
 The weather wasn't terrible for Nick's climb - partly cloudy the first day as they made their way to Camp Muir at 10,188 ft. But it turned nasty for us down below & rained most of that afternoon. The next day, we were completely socked in with clouds, rain & fog as we drove back into the park while Nick was starting their summit attempt EARLY (3am) that morning.
 She was only giving us a glimpse of her as we drove up to Paradise again...
the tip top of Mt. Rainier
I had read that the cloud cover was around 9,000ft that morning, so I wasn't really sure what kind-of climb Nick was in for that day...but apparently is was a perfect day above Camp Muir!! Below are the pictures Nick captured as they reached the summit around 11am
{Nick is already asleep as I type this post, but this is either Little Tahoma Peak or Gibraltor Rock}
sunrise as they climb
on their way
Nick left Camp Muir at 3am with his complete team of 9 & their guides.  Not even halfway up, over half of Nick's team were not able to summit & turned back. Nick was one of THREE in his original team of 9 to make it to the top that day. (Apparently it's quite normal for less than half of the climbers who attempt Mt. Rainier to actually summit.)
looking back from summit
 The black dots along the trail are the teams packs left at the bottom of the caldera while they climb that last bit to the very summit of the mountain...
nick on top of the world at 14,410ft
My Mountain MAN!!!
I am so very proud of him! 
He said that the climbs in Ecuador were hard, but this one was much harder. {I'm sure starting from a much lower altitude, 5400ft rather than 9-10,000ft was part of it! I know I couldn't do it!} He was very tired when they returned to camp & we were THRILLED to see him! 
All-in-all he's glad he did it, but has said, "I don't need to climb that one ever again!" 
our parting view - from the airplane!
We had a wonderful time in both Seattle & Mt. Rainier National Park & I hope to go back someday soon & explore the park with Maggie again - this time with Nick in tow!

That's it! Thanks for going along on our adventure &
I hope you made it to the end with me!