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Summerland to Indian Bar (Aug 13, 2000):

  We got up very early today to find that the clouds that were around yesterday have dissipated. It was a frigid morning and ice was forming on the top of our tent. All the plants in the meadow had frost on them. It's a good thing that alpine plants have a type of anti-freeze in their cells. While Jason took care of the sleeping bags and other equipment I went to get our food bag from the bear pole. On the way I took a great picture of Rainier at daybreak (below in the Pictures section). The glaciers on this mountain are so bright in the morning that it hurts to look at it.


Ascending to Panhandle Gap was not as big of a deal as we expected. Although today was cold the weather was warm for the last week, and the snow was fairly well trodden. The trail was well marked and we had no problem with losing the trail. I guess our biggest concern was that one of us would slip on some of the steeper fields and fail to self-arrest. There were a few steep parts were a slip would mean serious trouble, trying to stop before falling off a cliff below. But most of the hiking was done over snow fields that had 100-200 foot drops and plenty of run-out time at the bottom. A slip on one of these would be a major inconvenience because you would have to walk back up to the top again. The scenery on the way up was just spectacular (I am running out of adjectives to describe this place). Our mini-crampons worked very well for maintaining traction on some icy parts.


 
 The picture on the left is of our Yacktrax spring steel crampons. Since the snow was packed hard they provided descent traction for some slippery uphill sections. The picture on the right was taken at the top of Panhandle gap, right in the saddle area. This was a very scenic spot with views of Rainier, Goat Island Mountain, parts of the Emmons Glacier system and of the surrounding valleys. The panoramic photo a screen below shows the view to the north-west.


  Today has been the coldest hiking day yet, the combination of cold weather and hiking on lots of snow made it quite cold. We wore our fleece caps most of the way up to panhandle gap. As soon as we reached the top of the pass, fog moved in on the southern side. It totally obscured our view, we waited around about 40 minutes for it to leave but it just got thicker so we continued on. Several more snow fields, some of them remarkably steep, and we finally emerged from the fog just on the west side of Ohanapecosh Park (pictured at left). You can see the fog/clouds at the upper elevations in this picture. It was a very nice area. At this point in the trail we could see Indian Bar directly south of us, the whole valley engulfed in flowers, all being fed from the runoff of the Ohanapecosh Glacier.. Another mile and 800 feet of descent and were where there.

Pictured at right is me making some pasta with a gourmet pesto sauce. (At least it seemed gourmet at the time). Our surroundings were absolutely gorgeous, a large bellowing valley where every available patch of dirt is covered with every type of wildflower, complete with a glacial fed stream, fir trees in the nearby foothills and all accented with snow-capped peaks surrounding. Jason and I sat there until nightfall. Afterwards we went to visit the group of people staying in the Indian bar shelter. Today and tomorrow will be the last days we hike together. We will be done at Longmire and they will continue on heading north across the west side of the mountain to go back to their car at the Summerland trailhead. The end of the trail is finally near, it's a bittersweet sensation I almost don't want to stop this grand voyage.



Panoramic Photos:

 

The view from Panhandle Gap (highest point on the trail)

Ohanapecosh Glacier


Pictures:

 The moon at midnight

 Rainier at Daybreak

 Frost, in the alpine meadow justoutside our tent
 

 This is the typical Rainier Bear-Pole (for hanging food)
 

 Resting on the way up
 

 Red Algae living in the snow

 Jason taking the lead on the ascent

 Large Snowfields on the way up

 Panhandle gap

 Jason taking a GPS reading at Panhandle Gap

 Descent to Indian Bar

 Flowers at Indian Bar

 Shelter at Indian Bar

 

Indian Bar GPS Coordinates:

Datum: WGS84
Lat:  46  49' 33" N
Lon: 121 38' 19" W
Altitude: 5118ft
 

 

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