You know how it is ... well, maybe I'm unique, but I doubt it.
Glorious weather. A spectacular hike experience. Sweltering and thirsty, you reach the hike midpoint, and pull up to the nearest log or rock to rest a spell and enjoy a magnificent view (which you have EARNED!).
You rummage around in your pack for that ripe-to-perfection Gilmore Farms nectarine you have wrapped carefully in a paper towel. One sweet, juicy, flavorful bite later, and you know that this is an experience you will never forget: endorphins high from being outdoors and hiking, nourishment and hydration flowing into you from one of the tastiest, juiciest fruits known to man. You want to have this experience again and again.
That happened to me several years ago on the hike to Upper Crystal Lake from Chinook Pass, and because we take this hike every year, I've made sure to repeat this ambrosial experience each time by packing a Gilmore Farms nectarine to look forward to. These photos are from this year's hike on September 4.
This hike is spectacular and perfect in every way. There are open hillsides, rocky shale, shady forests, cool lakeside resting spots, several great viewpoints, a high pass, flower-filled glades, and finally, views of Mount Rainier above Upper Crystal Lake.
|Looking back at Chinook Pass from the trail.|
|Sheep Lake lunch stop. Sourdough Gap is in the indention in the center of the photo, in the mountain ridge.|
|A sampling of the flowery glades we passed by.|
|Tiger lilies ... a rare sight. They're native to Washington State (a knowledgeable-looking hiker told me) and don't bloom for very long.|
|And finally: The Nectarine View|
Logistics: Link to a map here. We like to start the hike by parking at Tipsoo Lake, just inside the (no-fee) entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. There are restrooms. Follow the trail shown on the map to Sheep Lake. There's another trail up to Sourdough Gap, through which you can proceed, taking the left-hand trail at the fork, to a small ridge, passing over which you will see Upper Crystal Lake and Mount Rainier.
And don't forget to pick up your Gilmore Farms nectarine (they're at Pasco, Richland and Kennewick Farmers' markets) before leaving home!