It was still lightly sprinkling after we broke camp and headed East. We were uncertain if if it was going to continue to rain or if we were going to be lucky and the rain would stop. We quickly arrived at the detour around the landslide on Highway 410 and found Bethel Road/FS1500. This was our turnoff to Meeks Table. It quickly narrowed. I was a little nervous since it was Monday and I hoped that we wouldn't meet any logging trucks. But I didn't think there was any active logging on the road.
The canyon was drenched in clouds but the disappeared as we climbed. We passed Lake McDaniels and started looking for the turnoff which we easily found. It was just a short bumpy way until we got to the end of the road blocked by a couple of large boulders.
We grabbed our packs and headed up the logging road. Our directions were a little unclear and we made a couple of false attempts. We went further over a couple of berms and finally saw the cairns which marks one of the trails.
It went up hill through the forest before crossing over some rocks and coming to a cliff edge. The vistas widened and we could see several of the mountains in the areas such as Mount Aix and Nelsons Butte. We continued climbing and then dropped below the rocky ridge.
There it was! Frasera specious - The Giant Green Gentian - which was what we were looking for. We continued on and the trail dumped us out on the rocky lithos table top. Most of the flowers were pretty toasty from the hot sun but we could see that it was a lovely rock garden of Indian Paintbrush, wild onions and buckwheat.
Behind the rocky edge, is a grassy meadow dotted with Frasera speciosa. We walked through the wet ankle-high grass to inspect the plants. They had mostly gone to seed but we found one or two blossoms near the bottom of the stalks.
We explored the table top soaking in the vistas before heading back down. We were back at the car in a flash. We headed back to Seattle. We turned back on the highway and were watching the California Quails darting along the side of the road when I noticed something on the road. I thought it was just a dead animal until I saw the head pop-up. It was a turtle! What the heck was it doing on the road? I quickly turned around and G jumped out and moved it off the road. I don't know what it was doing on the road. We don't have turtles here in Washington. We saw a ranch with a pond and we suspected it escaped from the ranch pond.
The clouds darkened and thickened as we climbed to Chinook Pass. The fog decended about 1/2 mile from the Pass and I had to slow down to about 20 miles since I could barely see the road. Fortunately the traffic was light and there were no hikers along the pass. I am still amazed that there is still snow at the pass.
The fog cleared and we thought we were on our way home only to see flashing lights at the turn off to Sunrise in Mt. Rainier. A tree had falled over the road and the estimated it would about 2 hours before the road was open. We had our choices - go around through Paradise which would probably take an extra 2 hours; detour up to Sunrise or wait. We knew there was still snow up as Sunrise so we decided to just wait. We got in line and pulled out the Backgammon board. We had just started the second game when the cars started. The road was clear and it only took 30 minutes.
We were on our way home after a fun weekend.
Cairns along the trail
Up the rocky slope
First Frasera speciosa right along the trail
Inspecting a Frasera speciosa plant
Flower of Frasera
Geum triflorum seedpods
The rocky table top
Meeks Table from the road
Foggy Chinook Pass - Tipsoo Parking lot
Line up waiting for the road to open