Elysian Fields, Part 1 of 6
On August 27, 2005, we successfully hiked into Elysian Fields, which Paul has been longing to do for about 35 years. The actual experience of being in Elysian Fields, which only lasted about 15 minutes or so, was not the real reward of this hike. Instead, it was the sense of accomplishment which, until we did it, we really didn't know we could. We now know what it is like to scramble up and down that ridge, and we now know that we were able to do it safely. To Paul, that made the effort worth it. To Ellen, there will be the added bonus of not hearing any more about attempting to get into Elysian Fields from Paul in the future. We can now concentrate on other hikes that might be more fun, or easier, or both.
We had sent in the $20 fee for a reservation to camp in the cross country area near Windy Gap in the northern part of Mount Rainier National park. Our plan was to leave our heavy packs in the camp and then attempt to get into Elysian Fields with day packs on the first day. If we couldn't make it then, we would try the next morning.
We checked in at the Wilkeson Ranger Station to pick up our permit about 9:30 AM on Saturday the 27th. From there, we drove to the Ipsut Creek campground and started out on the trail along the Carbon River at about 10:00. Shortly before we got to the intersection with the Northern Loop trail, Ellen spotted some tall grass moving alongside the trail. We both got a close look at a pika who was harvesting the grass and it seemed that he was more interested in getting that job done than in preventing us from seeing him. As a result, we got a good look at him, which was the first time either of us had seen a pika in the wild. Unfortunately we didn't get a picture of him.
Here we are on the lower bridge over the Carbon River. The river being about as low as it gets, didn't make the crossing seem any less scary, because the bridge was higher off the water and there was no hand rail for quite a ways on the other side. A family we met at that point was kind enough to take this picture of the two of us on the bridge.
Paul just about to get off at the end of the bridge.
Ellen on the trail that begins a long series of switchbacks that gains 2600 feet before it rises above the tree line. We had already gained over 400 feet by this point since leaving the trailhead.
Paul looking back at the Yellowstone Cliffs from higher up.
Ellen pointing to the saddle on the horizon that will be our route to Elysian Fields.
Paul on the trail just coming into Windy Gap.
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