A Never Ending Serenade ~ Goat Rocks, August 2019

“You belong among the wildflowers, you belong somewhere you feel free.” ~ Tom Petty

Snowgrass Flats,Old Snowy, Goat Lake

As you enter the Goat Rocks Wilderness there are signs warning of the crowds that cluster there.  People want to go where beauty bursts from the seams and this lovely little jaunt into the wild opens a plethora of doors to beautiful adventures.  Magical pathways carpeted in the wildest of flora escort humans of all kinds to snowy tip top peaks (Old Snowy), sharp edges (The Knife), bountiful basins (Lily and Jordan), alpine pools of wonder (Goat Lake) and provide easy access to some of the most wondrous stretches of the notorious PCT.

Mikey and I have been this way before, once though the front door and once through the back, and then again with the younger kids a couple years ago.  But, this weekend we had the gift of venturing into the wild with just our Mattsi and we wanted to show her a sure thing.  And surer than the crowds it gathers, the Goat Rock Wilderness ineluctably leaves those who take to it’s paths in awe and wonder. So we mixed it up a bit and took her there.

As we wove our way through dirt paths surrounded by vibrant wildflowers I tried to see all those who walked among us like God’s flora. Extraordinarily  divine, each in their own way. The trail is not meant for just some of us.  It is meant for all of us. It’s easy to get lost in this world.  To forget who we are and what we were made for. To lose sight of the things that are real and rare and true. But, there is something about the wild that stirs us from our slumber and awakens a child-like wonder and clarity we all hold somewhere inside. Witnessing so many humans wandering around in some of God’s handiest work can actually be an incredible thing if you just look at it the right way. We’re all just reaching for something more.  Something real and rare and true.  And finding our way in the midst of it.

Of all the humans I know, my Mattsi is one of the rarest.  She belongs among the wildflowers ~ beautiful, fierce and free. I pray she always reaches for this kind of disentangling beauty.

We started out our little adventure at a crips 7a.m. via the Snowgrass Flats Trailhead, grabbing one of the only remaining ‘real’ parking spots on a sunny Saturday August morn.
The tread started out nice and easy.

And then took our breath away for a bit.
But as the light filtered through the forest around us we were still feeling light on our feet.
In just over four miles our path intersected with the Lily Basin Trail and opened up into a plethora of vibrant wildflowers.  
 But, we stuck to trail 96 and let it gently pull us up through the ever so popular Snowgrass Flats.
Until we ran smack dab into the PCT with Adams at our backs.
Beauty spilled out all around us and Mattsi fit in just fine.
As the terrain transformed a bit and we crossed the last running stream before Old Snowy we took a little break and wandered around to see if we could find a sweet spot to stake down for the night.
Even up here the wildflowers found places to shine.
And we found our sweet spot:)
We set up camp with Helens softly sitting off in the distance.
Adams holding strong  to the South.
And Rainier peeking over Goat Lake just to the North.
At this point we still had a decent amount of gas in our tanks and lots of day light so we ventured on up to Old Snowy.
Our plan was to climb up and then dip down and adventure down The Knife a bit.
The climb up to Snowy was pretty straight forward – or up.
But, it was also quite the gathering place.  So, we didn’t linger long once we were there.  Instead, we took a ‘sharp’ right – to the Knife.
The Knife is a pretty incredible 1.5 mile traverse from Old Snowy to Elk Pass.
It’s like walking on top of the world.

We clinked and clanked our way down the loose shale trail.
Leaving Old Snowy and the those who gather there in our wake.
And continued on down the Knife’s edge for a bit.
Until we found a nice little ledge to sit upon.
Where we lunched and munched and took in the 360 degree views of monumental beauty.  Layers upon layers of majesty as far as the eye could see.
And then we headed back the way we came.
Taking the bypass trail across a few slippery snow fields.
And then following Adams the rest of the way home.
Where we all promptly took the most heavenly naps.
After some Zzzzs and little cup of Joe – we still had quite a bit of time to kill.
So, Mattsi and I snuggled up on the hammock for a bit.
And watched a movie she had downloaded to her phone. I know!  Not very ‘wild’.  But, it sure was fun:)
While Mikey set up a screen for something even more ‘Strange’.
Then we crossed some words together.
And dined on deliciously simple, just add water, mountain made meals.
Soon the sky began to put on a show of its own.
The layers began to pop under a sea of orange and pink.
Covering our camp spot in a glorious golden glow.
Helen and Adam kept us constant company.
And after a bit we moved to this little ledge.
And watched the grand finale.
Even after the sun slid behind the loft gates to Goat Lake the heavens echoed with its departing fanfare.
When the darkness of night began to cover us and the first twinkling lights began to dot the sky,
Mikey projected the final episode of Stranger Things onto his make shift screen for us.
We munched on sweets while a strange creature munched on other things and valiant teens sang a never ending serenade, saving the world as they so courageously saved one another.
Goat Rocks 2.JPG
And then we slept side by side under a heavenly ceiling of ways all milky and magical.
Wild or not – it  was all pretty epic.
The next day we rose with the sun and promptly discombobulated camp.
With sleepy faces we downed some coffee and oats.
And then hit the trail once more.
For a short while we just headed back the way we came.  
Following the PCT and Adams back to the Flats where we parted ways.
Once we got back down to the junction where you can head straight back to the Snowgrass Flats trailhead or take a right towards the Lily Basin – venturing up a bit past Goat Lake, then dipping down again into the Jordan Basin before the forest envelopes you once again – Mattsi and Mike obliged my wandering ways and agreed to take the long way home.
So, we went right:)
We passed some interesting characters a long the way.  
But Adams never really left our side.
By the time we got to Goat Lake Adams had centered itself in-between two pretty epic camp spots on the bluff peering down into the basin.
Mikey and Matti obliged me once again for a quick pose.
And then we were on our way once again pausing only briefly to show Matti how far we’d come.
I wish I had captured the Joran Basin better.  When you pass the crest and see it for the first time it looks much more magical than this.
And the entire descent is framed in with white wild flowers that dance in the fresh mountain breeze.
After the basin we continued to drop back down to the world below, strolling in and out of the evergreens.
At Goat Ridge we paused briefly looking out across the valley to the rocks from which we came.
From here it was just a couple miles back to our car but this portion of the trail proved to be the toughest.  Wandering through the trees is never quite as fun as balancing on the Knife’s edge or traipsing among the wildflowers.  But, life isn’t always ridge lines and mountain tops and daisies.  Sometimes its kind of hard too.  Sometimes your mom pushes for the longer more scenic way home and those last two miles are a bear. But, there is beauty to be found in every leg of the journey.  Even the unnecessary, longer, round about ones:)

By the time it was all said and done I really felt like singing a never ending serenade to my wild and wondrous companions.  Sometimes I know I am a bit much.  But, they love me none the less.  Time and time again I think we save each and the little worlds in which we live just by sticking together – no matter where the trails of life take us.  They really are some of the finest creatures I know.


Day 1

Snowgrass Flats Trailhead to our Sweet Spot just below Old Snowy ~ 7 miles

Side-trip to Old Snowy and down the Knife a bit ~ 5 miles

Day 2

From Camp down to the Flats, through Lily Basin, up to Goat Lake,  down into the Jordan Basin and along Goats Ridge, past the Berry Patch Trailhead and back out to the Snowgrass Flats Trailhead… AKA The Long Way Home:) ~ 10.5 miles

Total Miles ~ 22.5


11 thoughts on “A Never Ending Serenade ~ Goat Rocks, August 2019

  1. I saved reading this post for my work “lunch break” today. Where I could indulge in the beautiful pictures and your unique prose. Keep writing, Tris!


  2. When I saw your name as Tris and began reading your beautiful poetic descriptions BEFORE I even saw the first photo, I KNEW it had to be you! I loved reading all about your adventure and seeing the photos. Please keep posting. We need to get our family off of this volleyball rollercoaster and add some real backpacking. We are venturing out tomorrow most likely with my cousin from Texas to enjoy the beauty on Naches Loop and am toying with the idea of whether or not to bring our little dog Aspen who could fit in my daypack if need be on the backside of the glorious trail where the no dogs sign pops up. We were busted by a ranger one year at that point and he made us turn around and go back around the loop in the same direction we had started from. We of course had no idea that our 8 pound dog was welcome on the first half of the loop but not on the 2nd half which holds the incredible views of Mt. Rainier.


    1. We just did that hike with kids a couple weekends ago. And we had the dogs😬 We didn’t know either. We camped down at Dewey but when we came back up to the loop we finished it on the ‘No Dogs’ side. We didn’t see the sign until we were crossing the road to Tipsoo. We even passed Rangers. But there were bears up there and we were most of the way through the loop when we saw rangers so I think they were just focused on more serious matters. None the less, we left the kids and dogs at Tipsoo and hiked back to the cars at the Pass dogless, picking kids and pups up on our way back down the road. If I did it again, I definitely wouldn’t bring the dogs. I like following the rules:) It makes me feel better. I say leave the pup at home so the Rangers can focus on more important matters. Plus, you don’t want your little buddy getting eaten by a bear😏

      Beautiful hike though. Even with the ‘No Dogs’ hitch.


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