The first “big” snow storm of winter came rolling through Washington State this past weekend. Based on the forecasts, I decided a trip back to Green Lake in Mount Rainier National Park might be in order. Besides, it’s been two years since my last visit. This time, I opted to bring my mountain bike instead of hiking the 3 mile road to the trailhead.
I actually wanted to do some photography down in the old growth forest along the road but I didn’t find the time to do it. I think I’ve finally accepted that I need to devote an entire day just for that; the shorter amount of daylight really limits how much time you really have in a dark place such as the Carbon River valley forests. The day started mostly dry with some occasional drops during my bike ride in. After my first photographic stop a short way in, the rest of my hike (and day) would be under steady rain.
I made the requisite stop at Ranger Falls (roughly the halfway point up to Green Lake) and was happy to come away with a couple nice shots. The first was the “standard” view of the falls but the rainy, overcast conditions provided great light. In addition, the waterfall seemed to have more flow than I could recall seeing during my previous visits. I also made a second shot with which I attempted to incorporate a cedar trunk into the right side of the scene. Not exactly sure why the right side of the falls is clipped by the trunk (I think there was a reason I couldn’t move to the left to recompose).
The rain falling at Ranger Falls felt heavy and it turned to sleet as I started hiking away from the falls. Snow was beginning to stick on the ground in the random openings of the forest’s canopy. I encountered a bit more snow on the ground in the vicinity of the log bridge over Ranger Creek but this was still a far cry from the several inch amount I had hoped to encounter.
I arrived at a mostly bare Green Lake. The skies were definitely brooding with alternating periods of rain and snow showers. Gusty winds were also sweeping across the lake so I found a little dry shelter to sit down and snack a bit. It should come as no surprise that while I was snacking, the low clouds parted a bit and offered a few long range glimpses up the valley towards the Tolmie Peak lookout.
I tried to quickly gather my gear but by the time I was in position to shoot, the conditions had changed back to less than ideal. The weather was really starting to wear on me so it was time to head home. On the hike out, I still was observant of my surroundings and was tempted to stop several times. There were only 2 more hours of daylight left and I knew that any exposure would require 30 seconds.
This forced me to forgo a few shots but I had to stop for one more photo. Along the trail, this mossy cedar trunk just spoke to me. I loved the gently curving lines of the trunk along with the complete carpet of moss. What little daylight that was penetrating the forest canopy seemed to make the moss on the ridges of the trunk glow.
I still had about another mile left on the hike out so I just marveled at all of the new windfall since my last visit. It’s not just any windfall- it’s OLD GROWTH windfall. The size and dynamics of these big trees falling is unbelievable. Having reached the road, I stowed my gear and hopped on my bike for the speedy ride back to the park’s entrance. It looks like I should have gone on this trip this coming weekend based on the current forecasts. Oh well- for so few photos, I’m happy to come away with two nice shots!