Going West: July 12 (Mt. Rainier)

Mt. Rainier National Park – in the daylight – is absolutely fantastic. We drove along the southern road. We came in through the Steven’s Canyon entrance and went west. There is only one road, and it didn’t look like it would take long to do. I told the girls we’d do one hike, stop at the visitor’s center, and then set up camp for the night. That little project took us 7 hours! There is just so much to see and so many little turnouts. We didn’t come close to seeing everything, but we got a good feel for the park.

We started the day exploring our campsite. Our site backed up to a small gorge and a creek, so we made our way down to the water.


Behind our campsite (Ohanapecosh)







Trees outside our camper


Leaving Ohanapecosh, we drove a few miles back to the Steven’s Canyon entrance and officially entered the main park road. The first stop was a hike to the Grove of the Patriarchs – an old growth forest with some magnificently large trees. The path was only a mile long, but it included a walk along the river, a bouncy one-man bridge, and several places to stop and sit among the tall trees.



On the trail to the Grove of the Patriarchs


Sitting in an uprooted tree



Grove of the Patriarchs



Only one person at a time on the bridge



Giant cedar tree



Looking up



Even the walk back to the car had camera-worthy scenery

We weaved along the road and stopped at a few pullouts to take pics and eventually eat lunch. Then we got back in the car and started to climb.




From this stop, you can make out the switchback road on the other side of the gorge that will take us up to the Paradise visitor’s center


The lush green colors of our campsite gave way to areas where snow still covered everything. The Rainier area apparently had 200% normal snowfall this year, so park land that is normally wildflower meadows and hiking trails during July is now just a frozen block of snow. We saw a few guided hikes preparing to set out in full snow gear and spiky boots, but normal trails simply couldn’t be followed. There were a few families scooting their way up the snow pack and having snowball fights, so we walked up about 50 feet just to say we did.


A stop near Louise Lake


A snowy waterfall along the road



Paradise in July!



Not much in the way of flowers this year



Slipping and sliding up the path to where the hiking trails should begin


The visitor’s center was interesting because we’d never visited an active volcano before, and the displays discussed small and notable activity of the volcanoes in the area. We talked with a couple from Pullayup who live just a few miles outside the danger zone on the map. They told us that about 10 years ago there was an exceptionally warm day in the spring. The melt and runoff made the streams run fast enough to set off the warning sirens on the mountain (volcanic debris would move this fast in event of an eruption). It was the middle of the night and several news stations heard about the sirens. Nobody in the outside communities knew what was going on for several hours until it was determined spring flooding was the reason for the alarms. That was the only slightly scary time they could remember.

Once we left the visitor’s center, we moved back downhill and spent some more time exploring the short walks and overlooks.





A rocky riverbed near Longmire


Julia explores the rock piles



A homemade bridge takes hikers across the river to the trails



Our campground tonight was Mounthaven Resort – only a half mile outside the park. We booked it because I thought we would want electricity and water after a night without. It was hard to give up last night’s beautiful setting, though. Sitting side by side other campers – even with tall trees behind us – just wasn’t the same. We also still had no phone or wifi, so it felt like we were still rustic camping. I’m going to note here, too, that I noticed our hot water heater is leaking, so I shut the water off unless we absolutely needed it.


Mounthaven campground



We are still a long way from what you could call “town,” and we’re still living out of the canned/boxed food we brought along. We need some protein and something green (the tuna casserole with peas I made for dinner just didn’t cut it). I made a quick drive up the road to search for a Verizon signal so I could call Mike and make him aware of our leaking water situation. I’m sure the poor guy would love us to call with only good news sometime. Tomorrow’s goal will be to find a grocery store and call Mike just to tell him about what we’ve seen instead of what we need to fix.

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

Leave a Reply