Chapter 13~ Fire Creek, Grand Park and Bears

The following is a prelude to Episode 8 video. You can click. to watch here or read and watch at the end.

Episode 8 Synopsis: Episode 8 takes us through Grand Park as a day hike to Lake Eleanor. We walk parallel to another bear in the meadow and end at Fire Creek Camp for the night.
Runtime 11:36

Day 9

We leave Berkeley Park at 9 am with an ever soaring view of Rainier behind us. The clouds are lifting, building and precipitating aloft in whisps of white and gray. Even for August, it has been cold the night before at 5,600′ elevation. Shannon and I have to use everything we have we have to keep our feet warm at night.

Grand Park, Mt. Rainier National Park

As we share our warming strategies over breakfast, Shannon reports she zipped her coat around her bag, I add that I ended up using a white garbage bag I’ve brought along for clothing. I end up inserting my sleeping bag into the garbage bag wrapping it around the foot area in order to keep some warm air in mine. We decide Shannon’s idea was a better one because I wake to moisture and condensation inside with my sleeping bag and it gets wet.

wrapping your coat around the foot of your sleeping bag
plus hand warmers

As we break camp and begin walking on the westside of Mt. Fremont on the Northern Loop we look back and can see up the ridge where the fire lookout sits perched high. It is an interested view from below but, so is looking down from the fire lookout. From above, Grand Park appears as an expansive plateau of emerald green, where we’re headed.

Grand Park also reminded us of a place in Montana and looked like a spot we might see a few bears. We walk slowly keeping a cautious eye out for them and also more that we wanted to be able to turn and peer back at Tahoma with the clouds billowing around here. The view reminds me of Pahto and W’yeast and the story of The Bridge of the Gods where the two brothers shoot arrows opposite directions to make a new home. From both sides of the park people can approach here but we never did see people until we approached the downhill side to Lake Eleanor, counting one nice bear we saw in the meadow.

Grand Park to Lake Eleanor

Many day hikers take the back door to Grand Park via Lake Eleanor. Assessable only, through the towns of Enumclaw and Greenwater then leading to Forest Service Road 73 just south of Greenwater. Lake Eleanor is a bit long on a dustier road that turn and weave through the forest over 9 miles and passing the Huckleberry Creek area from Forest Lake and the old ranger station that still stands there.

The backcountry camp at Lake Eleanor was spacious and picturesque next to this beautiful blue lake that was like a mirror of the sky.

By the time we had arrived at Lake Eleanor, it felt late but I think we knew what kind of peaceful day we had had wandering across lovely Grand Park. It truly was the type of place you would want to just grab your lunch, lay in the Tornado flowers and hope a bear doesn’t attempt to steal your bag and run off with it as you nap.

Lake Eleanor
Lake Eleanor
Shannon and Lake Eleanor
Northern Loop Trail to Fire Creek

Critter Lickers at Night

Finding Fire Creek was easy enough returning through Grand Park once again and a slight turn right on the Northern Loop Trail. The campsites were well spaced and dispersed down the hill. The creek had just a slight trickle still mid August.

This is a section that seems dry in the summer laying in the rain shadow of the mountain.

That night I fell asleep early but awoke half way through to the sound of a roughed tongued ruminant, licking and licking. I remember leaving my poles propped up against a log right next to my tent and decided to leave well enough alone. I’m not sure the critter who the cause of the pole licker just outside my tent that night but it could have been a dehydrated critter, a deer, a porcupine, or worse, I thought, a skunk as I recall.

But tell me, what kind of animal does this sort of damage?