Purple batwing versus the rain

It rained.

Not too hard, but enough to test our huge purple batwing tarp. It worked–covering the entire picnic table with room on the sides for supplies and at the front for our folding chairs.

Breakfast was a little chilly even with coffee and cocoa.

So we drove around the mountain

One of the joys of Mt. Rainier is your ability to chase the weather. When it is wet on the west side, it is often dry and sunny on the east. We gathered layers, toys, snacks, and other essentials and headed for Sunrise.

As a bonus, we got snow and a deer at lunch!

This doe hung around our picnic. Her friends were nearby.
Picnic with puppy

We started up the nature trail at a pretty quick clip. It’s amazing how quickly you gain height.

Ben with his grands.

Any way you looked it was breathtakingly gorgeous.

The top had it’s own kind of barren beauty.

Turn of the trail

We saw a hoary marmot up close. Lynsey spotted it right beside the trail. It paralleled the trail for quite awhile before finally crossing and heading downhill. The melting snow left neat tubes of dirt where some critter had burrowed. They were everywhere.

Ben soldiered on, trotting, trudging, stopping to play with rocks, and spending a little time on dad’s shoulders. He decided that a very short pair of hiking poles would be pretty fantastic. Rob’s telescoped down small. Score!

Lynsey took most of the pictures on this trip. Thanks Lyns!

Grandparenting on Mt. Rainier

Camping with Ben at Cougar Rock Campground

Ben at three, usually smiling, always thinking

Rob reserved our spots months ago. We were across the campground road from each other, they on the downhill and us on the upslope. This is the highest we’ve had to crank the leveler.  Works great.

Our picnic table was up a couple of steps, which was fine. Our fire ring was wedged into the pointy part of the site, which was workable but not ideal. It felt a little like being displayed on the prow of a ship, and you could only sit on one (pretty crowded) side

Strider bikes and nature talks

A joyful, curious, very busy three-year makes camping a delight. Ben on his strider bike zipped around the campground loop a lot faster than Lynsey and I. I was impressed with his control on downhill curves and the quick way he left the middle of the road when we hollered about cars.

Ben and his strider bike raced to the naturalist talk and we tagged along behind. I didn’t catch the young ranger’s name, but he was marvelous with the kids in the audience. He’s from Mexico which was especially nice for the kids who spoke Spanish.

We learned about the mushrooms that grow in the park and their life cycles. Ben was the smallest in the group and Rob the tallest. They acted out a mushroom’s life from spore to mycelium to fruiting body (I missed a couple stages). I especially liked the spores all crouched down with their arms wrapped around their knees.

Rob with Ben on his lap learning about mushrooms

Smores with Gramma Mary

Smores are interactive fun! We got a little ghost-scummed and had fir needles stuck all over, but we had FUN!

Sleeping venues

Rob typically hammock camps, both with a group of adults and a boyscout troop. I always bring my $15 camp hammock. It’s a great napping and reading couch. Rob’s is different. A high tech roomy, long hammock with a rainfly. I flop into mine from the middle. You enter Rob’s from the end.

Grandpa Bill and I had Brave Horatio, of course. His Pendelton blanket and down comforter and pillows keep us happy.

Lynsey and Ben opted for a tent. In and out the zipper was fun, as was THROWING each item inside. When actual bedtime came, though, the tent was disconcertingly strange…

…but Ben had his puppy and pillow and eventually snuggled into his sleeping bag.

Ben and his pillow. Puppy is probably in there somewhere

Lynsey took most of the pictures on this trip. Thanks Lyns!