Skyline Loop Trail

Skyline Loop Trail

Getting an early start on a hike at Paradise is a good thing. For one thing, it’s much cooler in the morning. For another, it’s not nearly as crowded (We had hiked about half our route before running into other people).

We were going to take Skyline to Myrtle Falls, then head up the Golden Gate trail, but after some discussion, we thought continuing on the Skyline Loop trail would be a more gradual elevation gain.

Before leaving the Myrtal Falls area, I was standing on the foot bridge above the falls, looking towards Mount Rainier, when I saw something out of the corner of my right eye. Looking down, I saw a hoary marmot with its head poked up above the bridge, watching me. I was able to get several good shots of it, before it figured out I wasn’t going to give it any food, and crawling back down to collect seed heads from flowers. After it ran under the bridge and up the other side onto a small hill, I figured out it was a mother marmot when two young ones greeted her and she fed them from the seed pods she had collected. We all stood there taking photos for quite some time before moving on along the trail.

After a slight climb in elevation, the trail headed downhill. We had hiked up 182 feet in elevation by this point, and now hiked back down 157 feet in elevation. We then hiked a bit past 4th Crossing trail, before deciding we didn’t really want to hike to the top of Mazama Ridge (290 feet in elevation over just under 1/2 mile). Even if we did hike to that ridge, we would have needed to hike an additional two miles and 664 feet in elevation to reach a connecting trail to take back to the visitor’s center. While some were up for it, I wasn’t. This was the first year of hiking after a decade of not being able to do much due to really bad knees. I was still building my leg muscles back up and I knew that even our gradual climb back up the trail we just came down would be slow-going for me.

We saw more marmots near our turnaround point, but they weren’t as brazen as the one near the start of our hike. We also saw a black-tailed deer cross our trail and head further down into the valley. I noticed that this deer wasn’t quite as used to people as those up on Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains.

As we hiked back and got closer to our starting point, we started to see more and more large groups of people, indicating that the parking lot would be filled to capacity and too many people for my taste.

Finishing just before midday allowed some to hike other trails on their own. I, however, headed home, knowing that I needed some rest before starting the work week.

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Don`t steal my photos!