It was on my list of hikes I wanted to do this summer so I decided to take advantage of a cool but sunny day and make the trek up. I had heard that the beargrass was blooming like crazy up there and since I missed it last year I was really itching to photograph the weird little flowers.
I knew the trail was hard, 8 miles round trip and about a 3800 foot elevation gain, but people likened it to Mt. Si which I had no problem with. Granite Mountain is a different story. It starts out at exit 47, my favorite for hikes off I-90, and is the trailhead for quite a few hikes. I'm guessing I'll be up here again if I want to try for Ollalie Lake as I don't think my car will make it up to the other trailhead. Plus it crosses over to Melakwa Lake so if I can get someone to pick us up on the other end it might make for a nice overnighter for the tall one and I.
"points the way"
I easily hit the one mile mark and the sign for the turn off to Granite. I took a quick photo because I loved how the light was coming through the trees and it made for a fun photo of the sign. I love my new camera.
I had seen a few tiger lilies on Rattlesnake, but didn't have my camera with me so I was really excited to see this little guy just hanging out. And hello! Beautiful bokeh with my Nikon? Love it.
"canadian dogwood and friend"
The dogwood is blooming now and was scattered all along the lower half of the trail. I realized that if I was fluent enough in the different species of flowers I wouldn't even need a GPS, I would always pretty much know my elevation. With the little knowledge that I do have I can always tell when I hit a certain point because of the different flowers I see, which is kinda cool.
Another thing that I love about my D90 is the on-camera editing options and the high "cropablity" factory. I was able to crop this flower in to get a nice mimic of what I would have accomplished with my 50mm and close up lenses on my Canon.
"and up it goes"
After the first mile the hike becomes a killer. I mean, ouch. I stopped quite a few times before realizing that I was just going too darn fast. I slowed my pace and the trail became more manageable, but it still hurt. I didn't see a lot of people on this normally overpopulated trail however the few people I did meet were really nice and chatty. As I huffed passed two gentlemen they assured me that the wildflowers at the top were so worth the effort.
"a little on the side ttv"
Seriously, the pictures don't do this hike justice. Soon the hillside opens up and for acres and acres all you see is beargrass and wildflowers. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Finally reaching the crest of the hill you are greeted with not only more flowering beargrass but also almost every peak of the cascades. I can't even begin to show you how amazing this place is. You have to go see it for yourself.
The sun peaked in and out of the clouds all day and since I had no money left over after my camera purchase I have yet to procure a polarizing filter.
"steep grade to blue sky"
The shot above is straight out the camera. Look at that blue sky, those beautiful greens! No extra filters needed. I love my little guy...love it, love it, love it.
"a bit of snow in the way"
My destination was the fire look out, but as you can see there was quite a bit of snow on the trail. There are three ways to go here, one straight up the trail that you can see covered in snow, to the right is a basin type valley that was also covered in snow, and then there is the meadow to the left with a steep scramble up a boulder field. I chose the meadow and started up. Once I finally reached the boulders I was exhausted and having a hard time holding on. I was mad at myself because I really wanted to make it all the way and the fear of hiking alone and suffering a fall was preventing me from summiting.
I decided to stop, eat lunch and take in the views. I'm glad I did because the descent was a killer. That steep incline did a number on my knees and made me realize I'm in no shape to do another killer hike on my list, Mailbox. The elevation drop was so noticeable that my ears kept popping on the way down.
In the end, I'm actually kinda glad I didn't make it to the top. The tall one wasn't able to join me on this hike and I know he'd like it. I was able to take the time to photography the pretty, next time I'll bring him with me and we'll conquer the summit!