Plummer Peak photos

August 6, 2010

This was one of those truly epic days. I hiked alone from Reflection Lake, at first on a spur to the northwest that eventually led back to Paradise valley. I wouldn’t go that far this day, so after a few long shots of the ridge, it was back south across the road and up the Pinnacle Peak trail. I started in the early afternoon, and ran into a few folks on the way up. But as I reached The Saddle there were only a few stragglers there, soon to be heading down. I follow the lower trail to the right for a bit and encounter a few marmots and a woman looking at them. They don’t seem to care about us. I also spot some far-off mountain goats on a distant ridge. The woman heads back down the trail and I start heading up. My plan was to hike to the top of Plummer Peak, as it looked like a fairly easy climb, burdened as I was with a tripod. It looked like I’d have the whole mountain to myself.
I took the lower trail along the north ridge of Plummer Peak on my way up. This was sketchy at best. Large, loose rocks formed a tentative traverse, covered by the last drift yet to melt. In the thawing day it had formed an icy crust. There is a 500 foot drop to my right. I take no pictures here.
This leads to a level meadow at the foot of a long, progressively steeper climb to the top. I start making panoramas, then the last effort to the top. It takes less time than I thought, so when I reach the summit I drop gear and have a late lunchable.
I sat for a while up there alone. In the distance to the north, I can barely make out the shapes of the last two hikers moving down the lower trail, a mile away. The sun starts to angle across the rocks and crevasses of Mt. Rainier to the north. A trail of cloud bisects the mountain and shades the Paradise Valley. I make frequent stops for photography on my slow way down.
Then, a surprise. I can see a herd of mountain goats back down at The Saddle. They’re far below me now, but I might be able to get them with the long lens. I look down to get it, and one of their friends is standing about 50 feet in front of me. He lets me get a bit closer, but we can both feel the chill in the air, so it’s time to move on. Him sliding playfully down the snow face, me trying not to playfully land on my skull.
Back in The Saddle again, and the herd is gone. The light is getting magic now, as I make my way down the last leg of the trail. Above me, at the top of the Pinnacle Peak rockfall, I spot the wily goats. They really do climb amazingly fast. The sun is setting. It’s fantastic.
Back at the car, it’s nearly dark, and the lake is swarming with black clouds of evil little midges. I throw my gear into the front seat and flee down the road a few hundred feet to escape. I’m the only one on the road.

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~ by ChrissyOne on February 16, 2011.

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