Thanks for coming back for the conclusion of this trip report.
If you tuned in late, here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.
For everyone else, here are a few summit pictures, courtesy of Erik Hansen.
View of Mt. Rainier, Spirit Lake and a bit of the crater rim (on the right) and a bit of the lava dome (lower left):
Here is a 'zoom' on Rainier and Spirit Lake (objects are further away than they appear)
Here is the Lake, a bit of the crater rim (right) and the current Lava Dome:
Here is a zoom of the Lava Dome, complete with Steam Vents!!
Summit Shot taken by a fellow hiker of Erik & Tim (recently 'found'):
Keep that pic handy in case the Milk Carton people ever need it to help America find him.
So... that's about it.
Here are two maps for future reference. One is a map posted at the trail head and the other is a topo map with our (my) GPS track shown in blue.
I'm contemplating another summit of MSH next spring. Training starts... now! I can only pray that the weather is as perfect next time as it was the first two times.
Now, let's back track a bit to Part 2 when I mentioned we made a couple of interesting observations on the trail, below treeline.
The first interesting phenomenon is the scarring that we saw on may trees. The scarring seemed to consistently occur on the lowest 48 inches (approx.) of the tree trunks and was always on the side of the tree facing the volcano. While I didn't take any pictures of it, a good example can be seen in this very short video that I just happened to take. Take notice of the tree on the right:
We theorized that a blast of hot gasses or some other force from the eruption caused this damage. It could be due to something completely different, be we don't know what it would be.
The second interesting phenomenon was actually noticed by a kid who was... maybe 8 years old. He pointed out that the branches higher than about 20 feet all had moss hanging from them, but lower branches didn't.
Why is that?
Well, we also noticed that the tree trunks were dark near the ground but they transitioned to a lighter color about six feet below the moss. Furthermore, a few trees had blue diamonds mounted on them to guide winter recreationists through the snow. These diamonds were mounted about where the moss started.
Those observations led us to infer that the winter snow prevented the moss from growing any lower and the snow also resulted in the color transitions on the tree trunks... and the height of the blue diamonds.
If you happen to know something about either of these observations we'd love to hear your opinion.
Next hike is currently scheduled for November 14th or so, but hopefully there will be an opportunity to still squeeze in a fall-colors hike before all the leaves hit the ground.