I’ve done this hike twice, and the two trips were like night and day. This was early July of 2020.

A vertical Sitka Columbine (I believe) from above, with droplets of water hanging from its long stem.
Looking down an evergreen-and-wildflower-covered hillside.
Taper-leaved penstemon, I believe.

I don’t know what this grass is, but I found the dark seed head striking.
Olympic Mountain fleabane, I think.
A rocky mountain rising out of the clouds.
Another photo of the cloud layer below us.
A photo of the trail disappearing around the corner, with a backdrop of mountains and clouds.
A photo from the sunny side of Mount Townsend, with sparse clouds above and a low-hanging sea of clouds covering the valleys below.
Maybe it’s some kind of Jacob’s Ladder? I’m stumped.
Valleys covered in a blanket of clouds.
Mountain ridge after mountain ridge, with snow in the distance!
A trail through the wildflowers of this mountain top.
The meadow-y mountain top of Mount Townsend overlooking the Salish Sea with Vancouver Island and the San Juans in the distance.
Close-up of a bunch of wildflowers — arrowleaf groundsel, tufted saxifrage, western wallflower. I think.
Another close-up of a bunch of wildflowers and grass — lots of purple and green, and some wonderful textures.
Another shot of the trail through wildflowers, with sun beginning to set behind a horizon of mountain tops.
The same mountain ridges and blanket of clouds from a different angle, plus some sunset colors.

I think I’ve learned a few things in pulling these photos together — mostly of the “take more better photos” variety. I finally got around to purchasing a copy of Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, but I just don’t have enough photos of some of these flowers to have any confidence in my flower identifying. There’s also a significant number of shots I took from parts of this hike where the views were truly wonderful, but included people. I appreciate the additional excuse to do this hike again though!

I made a trip up to Bearhead Mountain with a few friends in early July of 2019. This was a cloudy, damp day, so we didn’t get any views of Rainier, but I really go in for those trips where everything is covered in dew drops and hints of mountains appear and disappear as clouds move through, so this was an A++ hike in my book. We mostly had the trail to ourselves, too — except for an older man we saw coming down, who claimed the trail was blocked up ahead. We saw no sign of the fallen tree he was talking about, and suspected he may have just been trying to keep the crowds away. I can sympathize; this trail was wonderfully almost-over-grown, with no trash and no crowds, a wonderful respite to some of the other trails in the area.

Looking back at the photos I have from this trip, there’s a lot missing. I’ve since gotten a better camera, too, but I can’t say that my photography skills have actually improved.

A small lake we passed early on in the trail. If I recall correctly, there was a lot of skunk cabbage around the trail here, and things may have gotten a little wet.
So many flowers everywhere! So many different shades and shapes of green! So much dew!
A bear grass covered hillside with trees, mountains, and clouds in the background.
A foggy hillside covered in bear grass and other flowers and grasses, rocks, and fallen logs.
Dewy, purple-flowered plant growing amidst the rocks. Rock Penstemon, perhaps?
The wonderfully messy-haired seed head of the Western PasqueFlower — what I often call the Dr. Seuss plant. The actual flowers on these are way less interesting than what the flower becomes.
Pink mountain-heather.
A slightly-blurry photo of the trail cutting through a hillside of dewy bear grass and silky lupine.
An even foggier hillside covered in more bear grass.