What more is there to say. Mt. Rainier!! Elevation 14,410′. I started seeing her miles and miles away, just a glimpse here and there from afar, then closer, larger. Every time I’d gasp! What an amazing sight!! I could see her from every turn in the road, a different view, just eye popping beautiful and awe inspiring. Here’s a topo model from one of the visitors centers, just to put her in perspective.
Entered at the Nisqually entrance on the southwest side. It’s the “historic district”, where first James Longmire, a settler and explorer, discovered hot springs and built the first hotel and spa in 1885 before it was a NP. That same year Fay Fuller became the first woman to climb Mr. Ranier. There is a “Trail of Shadows”, an interpretive trail around the area where the original hot springs/hotel/spa was. The historic district also consists of the 1st buildings as a National Park, which it became in 1899, and includes an old Inn, store, museum, Ranger station and an old gas station. Early visitors came by horse and buggy, cars were allowed in 1915, which began the major growth of the park. Lots of other history throughout the park including early ranger cabins, primarily used for rangers to watch for fires and poachers.
Camped a few days at Cougar Rock on the southwest side, on the Nisqually River. Nabbed the last site again, thanks to a cancellation. Pretty awesome to have a great view of the mountain form the campsite. Drove up to Paradise, climbing higher and higher, every turn another eye-popping view. And what a view from the top at 5400′, looked like you could reach out and touch it. I know I can’t just post a million pictures of different views tho I could look at them forever. Many other things to see also – glacier rivers and waterfalls of course. Other mountains, not as glamorous but beautiful in their own right. Another great visitors’ center. Many trails lead from here of varying length and difficulty, but they’re all steep. You can climb to the summit, over glacier ice, snow and loose rocks. It’s an overnight hike. Has anyone done it? Pretty impressive. Wildflowers were abloom in all the meadows to add to the beauty.
Continued to drive the route to the east from there, many great water falls and rivers. Reflection Lakes with Mr. Rainier behind, but no reflection, guess it’s the wrong time of day. Then drove on one ledge of Stevens Canyon, crossed over and ledge on the other side. Very narrow, winding, climbing, on a ledge with no railings!!! Exciting to say the least. Amazing views all the way.
The next day I moved up to the White River Campground near the NE entrance and Sunrise, another center of activity, visitor center, Lodge, and amazing views. It’s even higher – 6400′, the campground is 4232′ and there’s a trail up to Sunrise. A measly 3 mile hike, straight up!!! The drive is 10 miles, still quite steep with switchbacks to get that elevation gain. The view from here is even more amazing, it looks even more like you could reach out and touch it. And of course you can hike up to the summit from here too, along with many other hikes. There’s a trail called Wonderland that goes all around the base of the mountain. A total of 93 miles!!! Met some women on their 10th day, 2 more to go. And met some doing the summit too. Oh to be young again!!!
If you can zoom in and read the last one, When Fire and Ice Collided, it’s very interesting about how those rocks formed so weirdly. The rocks right there look just like the picture.
I know, another one of those signs to read! About how the Sunrise Road was planned and built. Another amazing engineering feat.
I mentioned earlier the Old Ranger cabins. Here’s some pictures of one that was in the campground area and information about them. It was open for viewing the inside with it’s furnishings of the day but too dark to photograph.
Went to a couple very good ranger programs at the fire circle. One was a ranger who sang and played guitar, making up new words to well known songs to fit the Rainier experience. Another was a young John Muir impersonator, reading from his books, with an excellent accent. Sun setting on Mr. Rainier, view from the campground.
This is the end of my western National Parks journey – what a grand finale’!!
Officially rolling east now,
Lynn and Xena