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Posts Tagged ‘rain’

Mt. Rainier, river

Our last day at Mt. Rainier was like so many fall days in the Pacific Northwest—wet and gray. Clouds moved in, muting the greens of moss and leaves, the reds and blues of berries, the gold of fall’s last blossoms. I hid my camera in my pack, bringing it out only briefly to capture some quick moment of beauty.

Mt. Rainier, vine maple

raindrops on huckleberry bushes, Mt. RainierWhen the rain stopped for a bit, I ventured out again. Firs towered over me, grown tall in the moist soil. The river rushed by, energized by the added water. And all around me, pictures of nature’s magnificence in miniature beckoned. In the days past we had enjoyed the grand vistas—wide, blue lakes, majestic peaks, hills rising above the fog. Today I focused in on the little things.

Mt. Rainier, lichens

Leaves speckled with raindrops. Oregon grape nestled against a tree trunk. Lacy leaf patterns in the vine maple. Miniscule forests of fungi. Amazing beauty that is so easy to miss in our hurried lives.

Mt. Rainier, Oregon grapeGray days can be depressing. Clouds surround me and the rain beats upon me, forcing my eyes downward. However, if I keep my eyes open, I can still discover those small blessings that make each day special.

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Reflection Lake

Reflection Lake

After feeling that nothing could beat the Naches Peak Trail, husband and I set off on the Lakes Trail in the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier and changed our minds.Mt. Rainier, Meadow with Flowers

The night had brought fearsome thunder, followed by a downpour, repeated again later in the night. Morning arrived in foggy gray, which continued to surround us as we drove to the trailhead. When we reached Reflection Lakes, the beginning of the trail, sun broke through and brightened the muddy trail. Behind the lake, Mt. Rainier still wore a gray hood.

The trail up to Paradise Visitor’s Center wandered through the woods, crossing a rocky, chattering stream, with occasional views of peaks behind us. Huckleberry bushes lined many sections of the trail, holding luscious blue fruits that we nibbled on.

Mt. Rainier viewThe uphill wore me down, as usual, but then we reached the aptly named Paradise. Mt. Rainier still hid her head behind the clouds, but at least the base showed. We took a short lunch break by the visitor’s center—not too crowded in September—and then hiked on. Now views turned spectacular. A new alpine meadow appeared around each bend, and the higher we hiked, the more blooms still lingered on the flowers. Craggy peaks and hills rose in the background with fog creeping into the valleys between. Green fields studded with rocks ran up to touch the mountain.

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier

We stopped to rest in one rocky field by a stream. Soon marmots were popping out of holes to check us out. Later we saw blue grouse. Young ones followed their mother into the brush. An adult male gobbled huckleberries from plants along the trail. He would trot a short distance down the trail as we approached, but then get distracted by the juicy berries. Finally he turned off on a faint trail into the brush where he could eat his lunch undisturbed.

Marmot

Marmot

As we hiked back down toward Reflection Lakes, the fog moved in, and a drop or two of rain hit our faces. We walked past tiny alpine tarns and green meadows shrouded in fog back to the trailhead. Six miles completed and truly a gem of a hike! And the rain held off until we were back inside our little travel trailer, cozy and secure.Mt. Rainier Lake in the Fog

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cumulonimbus clouds

 

 

The sky changes so rapidly this time of year. One minute it can be blue, swept clean of clouds; the next minute puffy white cumulus clouds start billowing up, turning gray underneath. Soon Cumulonimbus clouds take over the sky–magnificent, piled high in all their glory.cumulonimbus clouds

cumulonimbus clouds

cumulonimbus clouds

 

 

 

 

 

The clouds darken, threatening rain. And all I can do is watch in wonder. Like snowflakes, no two clouds are ever alike–or so I am convinced. And while the gray stratus and nimbus that bring rain may not excite me, the beauty of those towering cumulonimbus never ceases to fill me with awe.

So enjoy a few new cloud photographs. And look up at the sky to see what wonders you might find there.

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Mist and bare branches Oregon winters include a mixture of white and gray. Not to mention that clear stuff that drips from the sky. We adapt to gray skies and rejoice when blue appears—which it actually did for several days recently. Unfortunately, blue skies in the winter mean cold days, colder nights, and, where I live, a biting East wind. A bit of a mixed blessing, but still nice to see.Frozen fog

Last week we had a particularly beautiful, frosty day. Fog had drifted in and frozen on the trees, bushes, and whatever else it reached, creating scenes worthy of Christmas cards. Unfortunately, we discovered this while on the road, and I hadn’t brought my camera along. So all I can offer is a close-up from my phone.

Mist on tree branchesThen the days warmed up, bringing fog that dripped, rather than froze. Gauzy gray skies were backlit by the sun struggling to break through. And for this day, at least, light proved stronger than the clouds, bringing another sunny day. Now we are back to gray and rain, but hey, I’m a native Oregonian. I can handle it!Dripping branches

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Multnomah Falls, OregonLiving just east of Portland, Oregon places us in close proximity to a couple of top Oregon destinations: Mt. Hood and the Columbia Gorge. Thus when we had a brief visit from a Japanese friend, who wanted to see the forest, those two options came to mind. The Gorge is closer and warmer this time of year, so we settled on a trip to Multnomah Falls.

Crown Point and Columbia Gorge, Oregon

We hoped to take the old Columbia Gorge Highway, which winds through the woods and past several waterfalls, but that was not to be. A “Road Closed” sign greeted us near the Larch Mountain turn off. We had to be content with viewing Crown Point from the distance.

Wahkeenah  FallsOver to I-84 we drove, and east toward the falls. We tried a turnoff a mile or so before the Multnomah Falls parking lot and were rewarded by a view of Wahkeenah Falls on our way to Multnomah. We spent a few minutes beside that beautiful little falls cascading down the hill.

Then on to the biggie. Multnomah Falls had, as usual, lots of visitors snapping family photos in the mist near the falls, hiking up to the bridge, paying outrageous prices at the snack bar, and buying souvenirs in the lodge. We joined those hiking beyond the bridge, enjoying the rare sunny December day. We stopped to admire the powerful Columbia River below and enjoy views of the falls through the trees. So much water: truly an Oregon gift. We may not always appreciate the rain, but it does help create this beauty. I wouldn’t trade it for all the sunshine in California. (Or even Australia…)Multnomah Falls

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I love the visiting the beach—walking on the smooth, wet sand, my troubles drowned out by the roaring of the ocean and the crashing of waves upon the sand. I love the way the sky reflects in the pools of water left behind at low tide. I love looking for treasures stranded on the shore—shiny agates or the rare whole sand dollar. And I love watching the clouds journey across the sky, so full of majesty.

Clouds are great to watch anywhere, but they always seem more impressive at the beach. Perhaps that’s because the sky grows wider at the beach, with no tall trees to break up the view. I imagine it must be similar on the open prairie, but we don’t have much in the way of prairies in my neck of the woods.

Beach clouds also have the advantage that they are constantly changing. Since their very existence begins with water evaporating from the ocean, it only makes sense that they would be extra-volatile so close to their birth. Like a tiny baby they exhibit many moods, from screaming tantrums when they pile up into thick, black stacks to happier moods when they drift in smiling cumulus patterns across that broad sky.

I love beach clouds—except when they open in downpours that drive me from the sand back indoors where I can only stand and watch from the window. Even then I know that if I just wait long enough, the rain will stop and the beach will once again invite me out to enjoy its beauty.

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The bus to Kamikochi breezes along the narrow road with only a short guard rail separating us from the precipitous drop off to the canyon below. The rocks, the rushing river, the cascading greenery heighten my expectations as we near our destination. Kamikochi in the Japan Alps—an amazing place!

The Azusa River—flowing gently in places, rushing over rocks in others, clear and fresh water straight from mountain glaciers

Myojin Bridge

 

Takezawa Marsh—dark and mysterious, haunting birdsong echoing through the trees

Takezawa Marsh

The forest—bright greens springing to life on the ground and in the trees; Nirinsou Anemones lifting their clean white flowers, filling the woods with green and white.

Nirinsou Anemones

“Snow monkeys”—the native Macaque monkeys peacefully munching on new greenery, doing acrobatics in the trees to reach the tender buds

Macaque “snow monkeys”

Northern Japan Alps in Chubu Sangaku National Park—looming over us in snow-covered majesty, lit by the sunshine, or hiding in the mists of a rainy day, pure beauty.

Kamikochi.

 

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