Grand Park
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   On July 16, trip leaders Sara Schutt and Ed Bentley greeted Mary Lloyd, Carol Howard, Ron Ewert, and Mel Courtney at the Enumclaw ranger station.  The morning drizzle did little to discourage the group from proceeding to the wilderness destination: Grand Park in Mount Rainier National Park.  With the encouragement of a forecast of partial afternoon clearing, the six hikers carpooled to the trailhead on Forest Service Road 73.  Starting at 4600 feet, the trail headed south, quickly crossing the National Park boundary. The first half mile climbed gently through old growth Douglas Fir, huckleberry and salal.  There were numerous downed trees that had to be stepped over in this section.  At one half mile, the group came upon Lake Eleanor and it's several nice campsites at 4985 feet.  After a brief snack, the adventure continued through deep forest, over the shoulder of Scarface Ridge, and down a bit to the lovely Eleanor Park at 4861 feet elevation.  This alpine clearing displayed a small lake, meadow flowers and many tiny ground frogs in the soggy grasses.  Soon the trail re-entered the forest and gained about a thousand feet over the next two miles. 
   Suddenly, the trail opened again into the meadows which form the beginning of Grand Park at 5600 feet.  Nearly perfectly flat, this huge open meadow was well sprinkled with lupine, paintbrush, heather and other stunning flowers.  The hikers moved steadily along the single track trail that extends the length of Grand Park, looking earnestly for enough clearing in the clouds to see the enormity of Mt Rainier.  At one point, the clearing did reveal the western flank, and the black and white pattern of rock and glacier.  Going past the 3 mile mark, the hikers reached the intersection with the Northern Loop trail at 3.3 miles after three and one half hours of non-stressed hiking.  Although tempted by the improving weather, and the positive energy level, the group decided to not go further, but to enjoy a lunch on a slivered log and return back through Grand Park and the Lake to the cars as planned.           Ed Bentley