Feeling Grateful for Big Cats and Mosquitoes

Yes, really!  What happened was that when we arrived at the trailhead for this morning’s hike on the west side of the park, we were met by a park ranger who told us that a mountain lion had been seen in the area.  Um, no.  He also mentioned that the mosquitoes were active;  well, that was clear by the swarms buzzing around us as we got out of the car.  Stagnant water alert!!  We hightailed it out of there and moved to Plan B which was this:

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We passed this trailhead yesterday and had initially been reluctant to drive as far today.  But after the mosquito debacle we figured that any hike at a higher elevation would be a better bet.  This hike was an 8 mile out and back to a lodge called the Granite Park Chalet.  It was rated “strenuous” and with a 2450 ft. climb to the chalet I couldn’t make it past the 3 mile mark on the way up.  I don’t give up easily but I know my limits.  It was all good though because not only did we enjoy another breathtaking (and mosquito-free) hike, I got to see those wildflowers that I missed yesterday!

This hike was different than the others we’ve been on because it is mostly high elevation ridge hiking.  This makes for great visibility (i.e. easier to spot the bears) and the view of the trail itself as it hugs the mountain is beautiful.   It looks like this:

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You can see the wildflowers (which I’ll show close-ups of in a minute) as well as the trees that were burned in the fire of 2003.  Here’s another shot of me where you can see more of the trees as well as the ever-present snowcapped mountains.

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Here are some of the views we saw along the way:
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After looking at these photos I’m sure you can guess why I pressed on even when the trail really started kicking my butt!  Admittedly I was a little bit more focused on the wildflowers.  Here’s a look at them:

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We’ve seen these flowers growing all over the park but I can’t remember the name of them.  They grow very tall and here’s a fun shot of a stretch of the trail lined with them:

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Aren’t they wonderful?  David says that whenever I’m taking pictures of flowers I have a smile on my face.  Just looking at the photos makes me smile 🙂  At points along the trail we saw fields of flowers but they are harder to see with the sun reflecting off of them.  This shot gives you an idea of what it looked like:

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I took all of the photos of the flowers on the way down the mountain when I wasn’t worried about managing my breathing!    As we neared the end of the hike this came into view:

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This really shows the fire-ravaged forest and the effect of an avalanche on the brittle trees.  Pretty stunning.  And finally, this is me celebrating the end of the hike on a bridge in front of a powerful waterfall:

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Yeah, I was pretty jazzed about being done.

On a final note, Happy Birthday Dad!!!  You would love this place…