Yeah, big surprise. I know. Amy's out of town for the weekend so we're going hiking. And not a big surprise that we headed back to Rainier to make use of our fancy annual pass and what might be our last trip of the season before the road to Sunrise closes for winter.
The surprise this time, though, is that we have company. I decided to see if Josie was up for a hike since (a) I still feel bad that she got broke on a hike I organized, (b) I've been luring Scott away for some really; cool; trips;, and (c) she professes to like hiking with other people's kids.
Not to mention the littler moosefish members seem to behave a bit better when there are other people around.
Surprisingly, she said she'd be up for it. Even Scott was interested. And not to be left out of the fun they acquired some kids of their own for the day. So now our party was a whopping eight people strong, though the average age was about 15 years old and you know how well teenagers behave. (We'd have been truly a force to reckon with if the Park didn't prohibit dogs.)
We met along the way and arrived at Sunrise Point at about 10:30am. It takes a while to get five kids ready to hike so about noon we were on the trail. (No, not really, but it felt like that.) The trail drops quickly to Sunrise Lake along a pretty steep slope. I was holding on to Henry pretty tightly and trusting that Lilly wasn't going to do something really foolish. Clara is solid and wasn't a worry. (Plus she was sticking pretty close to Jo.)
Scott was herding Mason and Logan (nephews) and we were making decent time until I stopped to covertly pick what I figured was about the last berry in the Park. It was not. Our excellent pace deteriorated quickly as self-proclaimed "Berry Monster" Mason led the effort to pick every last berry available. We finally got going again by telling everyone there were better berries and snacks at the lake and these berries needed to be saved for the bears.
The lake is pretty and was quite low. It's only a half mile from the parking lot (and in fact you look almost straight down on it from the lot) so it wasn't exactly isolated, but there was no one else there. We opted to skip lunch there and instead push on to Clover Lake about a mile down the trail.
Henry and Logan, both two, did some walking and some riding. The older kids (Mason was four) took turns sprinting ahead and then falling behind. The girls shared the lead with Mason fairly well (did I mention they're better under non-parental supervision?), though there were of course the occasional complaints about fairness.
We found more berries along the way, of course, so we weren't sprinting by any means. We didn't run into anyone and sadly, saw no bears. We also didn't see the Mountain. Since we lost sight of it on the way down to Sunrise Lake it was hidden by the mountains along Sourdough Ridge (like Dege Peak). So for the first time being in the Park wasn't about seeing Mt. Rainier. It was really weird.
At Clover Lake we found a great spot to eat lunch, a dried creek/gully with a "bridge" across it to play on, and a wide beach with lots and lots of sand. What could be better? (Oh yeah, bears. And goats.)
The kids played away from the lake while eating, but then we all moved down to the lake. It started with throwing rocks, but rocks were hard to find. So then it was throwing handfuls of sand. Clara started building a model of a volcano (I wonder where she got that idea) and somehow recruited the other kids to bring her wet sand to add to her pile. They were an industrious bunch of monkeys, but neglected to add distinctive Little Tahoma to make it accurate.
Billions of pictures later we packed up and headed back. The kids were tired, but only slightly cranky on the way back to the cars. The way is mostly flat with some rolling hills, but nothing too strenuous until the climb back up to Sunrise Point. Luckily, we were distracted by treats, chipmunks, and pikas in the rocks. Henry was sacked out on my back so I had the open hand to guide Lilly up the last bit.
Somewhere along the way she lost one of her poles so next time we all go out together it'll be a challenge, but somehow we'll survive. (My guess is it was left in the parking lot rather than on the trail.) The kids loved playing in the back of Scott's pickup so as we changed into travel clothes they'd spend their idle time there.
The Sunrise Lodge was all closed up (as were all the rest of the facilities at Sunrise in spite of the perfect weather) so we had to wait on ice cream until we were back in Enumclaw. None of my kids finished theirs so even I got a treat.
Total distance was about three miles with 1,200 feet of gain. A definite winner with lots of extra exploring to be done beyond Clover. We'll be back.