Friday, June 01, 2007

Getting out of Seattle

Old Kautz Creekbed
Originally uploaded by gecko_12.
Last week, as you may know, I defended my PhD. (I passed.) Yay!

My dad flew to Seattle for the big event and then stayed for a few days afterwards. It was great to have him in town because a) it's always fun to have visitors, b) it's always fun to have family around, and c) it made me take a few days off after my defense, which I might not have done otherwise. Also, we had some great dinners (Pair!) and got to take lots of photos together since he had his new camera with him.

The day after my defense the weather was glorious so we took a little trip down to Mt. Rainier. The road to Paradise just re-opened earlier in the month and the park is still heavily damaged from the flood of November 2006.

We ate our picnic lunch up at the Jackson visitor center, though there weren't any seats outside. Then we meandered slowly back down the road and enjoyed the majesty of the mountain and marveled at the power of nature.

This photo is the old Kautz Creek bed - the new Kautz Creek jumped its banks during the storm and now runs about 1/4 mile away. The small amount of water running in the old tracks was really red, which made for nice contrast with the green trees, white mountain, and blue sky. We couldn't figure out why the water was red. We figured it is probably iron, but the creek wasn't red before, so why would it be now?

I hiked down the Kautz creek trail once before - during another heavy weather event at Mt. Rainier. Several friends and I had set out to hike the Wonderland Trail in the summer of 2004. (The Wonderland trail is 95 miles long and encircles the Mountain, gaining and losing 20,000 feet in elevation along the way). The day we started hiking it started raining and raining, and it just didn't let up. On the 3rd day we crossed paths with several groups who told us that the bridge over the next river we needed to cross had been washed out, so we turned back to the trailhead. We couldn't take the exact route we'd taken in because by the time we got back yet another bridge had washed out. So we hiked down the Kautz creek trail to the road, and two members of our group hitched a ride back up to the parking lot where our cars were.

Mt. Rainier is an amazing park, but its weather patterns (and active volcanic status!) make it just a bit edgier than other beautiful locales.