Things spread out
rolling and unrolling, packing and unpacking,
— this painful impermanent world
– Gary Snyder
buy the ticket, take the ride
It was still windy when I woke up, still blowing south. This added some difficulty to what otherwise would be a (relatively) easy pass to cross. White Pass ascends in a couple of stages, first up to Rimrock Lake and then over the pass. The trek is made somewhat easier in that there are campgrounds, resorts and stores all the way to the end of Rimrock Lake. Thus one does not have to horde water all the way up, being able to refill at the Indian Creek Campground 9 miles from the pass.
washing my head in the frigid mountain stream
— wake up!
But then there is the wind. And the roads are bad all the way to Rimrock with no shoulders, crumbly surfaces at times and plenty of traffic, including truck traffic. The route follows the river and then the mountain sides to it really wends this way and that. So as you’d bend south you’d get a blast of the wind, which at times was intense. Riding along Rimrock Lake was the worst as that was were a lot of the recreation traffic was going, there were shear walls past the limited shoulder and was into the wind most of the time.
The scenery was fantastic though. The dry forest with its ponderosa pines and scrabbly underbrush giving away to lush Western Washington forest. At the start of he climb there are rattlesnakes, cacti and sage. Once over the pass you find ferns, mosses and a green riot of trees. Up in the passes there are mountain goats though I didn’t see one. Near the top of the pass there is a spetsular waterfall, the Clear Creek Waterfall that cascades into this big, lush, wilderness valley that runs to the east of the pass. And then it’s just a pretty easy mile or so and you are at the pass.
out of the dust
tiny lavender flowers
like an open hand
The descent was also hampered by the wind but I still kept up a good pace. The views, though scene more with stolen glances now revealed snow capped peaks curving like a crown around a valley. A few miles down and around a bend Mount Rainier hew into sight and it literally gave me chills. Wreathed in mists, still snowy but lean and dominating the landscape with thin clouds streaked around its crown.
The fast descent soon took me to the turnoff to Mt. Rainier National Park and I had a choice to make – gamble that I could find a spot here on a Fridy in July or try the campground just down the road. I hadn’t had cell phone services since Naches so I could call in. Well it was only three miles and I hadn’t gone too far (all things considered so I went for it). A bit over three miles in, mostly uphill natch, a sign told the tale: FULL. So I turned back and went to La Wis Wis which was just a half mile from the turnoff. It too was nearly full but I found a site reserved for tomorrow and was able to secure it for tonight. A USFS ‘ground it’s pretty big but the sites are mostly small, well separated and in the woods. So it doesn’t feel, super occupied and since it’s a place that caters to other activities – hiking, going to Rainier etc. it doesn’t seem to be a “party ground”.
decaying fallen trees clog
the clear mountain stream