Spent the day today with Rob exploring the Carbon River road area in the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park.
The Carbon River road is closed at the Ranger station, but you can take bicycles beyond the gate along the road, but not on the trails. So, bring a bike lock if you're wary about leaving your bike unattended.
No permits needed for parking, but there is a $5 Park Entrance fee for each person.
Since my alarm clock decided I needed an extra hour of sleep, we didn't start our outdoor adventures until about 11:05am.
We were smart to bring the mountain bikes with us. They allowed us to make much better time on the road than we would made otherwise.
For those considering doing the same, be warned that the road only looks flat. It's not. It's a definite incline as you head toward the campground... and biking may activate a lot of muscles that you haven't heard from for quite a while.
The good news is that the ride back to the ranger station is amazingly fast and absolutely worth it.
As we headed toward Ipsut Campground, we stopped to see if we could visit Chenuis Falls. The first bridge is in place so you can access the river flats, but the second bridge is not in place. If you want to proceed to the Chenuis Falls you'll need to brave the glacier temperature water and fast current. Ill advised by the rangers. You can see part of the falls from the Carbon River road, but it's not photo-material from that location.
There are, however, other views to enjoy from this area.
Back on the bikes we encountered a group of four downed trees that we had to climb over. Big trees. BIG. They appear to be casualties of the recent wind storms.
Then we encountered another downed tree, amongst many others that luckily weren't blocking the route. That was some storm (glad I wasn't there!).
Finally, we reached the washout just before the Ipsut campground.
The word "Ipsut" (or "Ipsoot") is a Chinook word that means "to hide, keep secret; hidden; secretly.". Link (but not the link I was looking for which I'll fix later).
We rode in and stopped for a lunch break at the sign.
We proceeded on foot (bikes not allowed on the trails) the short distance to Ipsut Falls. It was a lot better than the ranger led us to believe. We spent quite a bit of time taking pics with the point-and-shoot cameras.
There was a hut just before the falls. Not sure what it used to be, but now it's smashed.
We returned to the bikes and started the fast return trip, stopping at the Green Lake/Ranger Falls Trail along the way. A couple forest park staff are doing a lot of heavy work on this trail trying to clear all the downed trees. It's unbelievable how many there are.
Ranger Falls didn't disappoint, but the pics certainly don't do it proper justice. I'll probably add a video in the next day or two, but until then, here are a couple pics.
Here is a short video compilation of Ipsut and Ranger falls:
More quick biking brought us back to the Ranger station without any incidents.
Great day, great company, great weather and greatly used muscles.
Topo Image and Profile:
Just under 1,500 feet of elevation gain/loss over 13 miles traveled with 2.5 hours of 'moving time'.
As you can see, there is no snow anywhere in the area.
We inquired about the Carbon Glacier trail and the rangers informed us that both bridges are out and in addition to that, the lower portion of the trail was washed out this last fall (Oct/Nov 2009).
PS: This was only my second time to this part of MRNP. If you are interested, here is the TR from March 2008, with just enough snow for snowshoes.