Mt Rainier NP: Ohanapecosh River & Grove of the Patriarchs (MANY photos)


TPF Noob!
May 3, 2007
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Everett, WA
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[Sorry for the quantity of photos for this thread. I just find it hard to do justice for this area with just 3 or 4 photos]

Several circumstances have sidelined me from taking photos for the better part of a month. With the holiday weekend, I was determined to finally get out and I decided that I wanted to head south to Mt Rainier. Initially I wanted to poke around the subalpine slopes of Paradise but the forecasts didn't seem cooperate for mountain views.

After some thinking, I finally decided on returning to Silver Falls and the Grove of the Patriarchs in the southeast corner of the park. My only other visit was last June and I was curious how winter would change the landscape. First, I had to verify that this was possible. After some emails and phone calls to the Park Service and the state DOT, I was told by both that the highway was clear of snow up to the park's entrance. That made a long day a little shorter with a roundtrip on snow of about 7.5 miles.

After picking up my friend, we drove another 2.5 hours to the turnoff from Highway 12 and were immediately greeted by this:


Crap. Our long trip became even longer. The snow on the road now added another 2.5 miles just to reach the park entrance. We made good time getting there so we geared up and headed out on foot. Thankfully a firm base with only 1-2" of new snow made snowshoes unecessary. About an hour later, we arrived at the park entrance:


Continuing on, we finally arrived at the Silver Falls trailhead after another 1.5 hours (~5.25 miles from my truck). A short scramble downslope brought us to the falls:



Downstream of the falls:


After lunch, it was time to move on and continue north. About a half-mile north, the Stevens Canyon Rd park entrance is reached:


Here, the snow depth was about 4' deep (at about 2000' elev). The trailhead for the Grove of the Patriarchs is just beyond the entrance. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a sign posted that told us that the suspension bridge across the river to the Grove has sustained damage during the fall 2008 flooding and was closed. Double crap.

Well, we had come this far so why not go another half mile to take a look? We did so and arriving at the bridge, we found it standing with no visible signs of damage. In fact, the entire span had 4' of snow on the deck and seemed to be supporting it just fine. A sign on the bridge simply advised one person at a time when crossing the bridge.

We decided to cross it and I went first. I was able to cross without incident and so my friend followed:


Safely on firm ground, we arrived at the Grove. Being the dead of winter, the highway (which is across the channel from the Grove) is closed and so there was no noise whatsoever. It's very rewarding to experience this environment in complete solitude.


New growth on a very old Douglas Fir:


I admit that I have a hard time photographing this place and I think it just has to do with the immense scale of the environment. Here my friend stands in front of one of the cedars:


Big brother, little brother...


Finally, there was this interesting sight. Normally, as limbs die on a tree, they break off due to snow, weather, etc. For this particular cedar, it hasn't happened so it seemed like a medusa tree:


With that, it was time head make the long trek back. As we headed back, the weather broke more and more and we were treated to some nice sunset color above us as we hiked out. About 8 hours and 12.5 miles roundtrip and we never saw a soul. A grueling but very rewarding effort.

Thanks for looking..
interesting and sounds like a fun time..
very cool! I enjoyed looking at the pictures and reading your descriptions.

I especially like the moss on the douglas fir tree. I always try to photograph things like that, but they are never as stunning as that shot is.

8 hours, tree trunks that you must trek around in order to see the other side...not a soul, sounds very nice

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