#47 Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
Mount Rainier was so incredibly beautiful! Teddy and I can't wait to show you around! But first, I'd like to share a picture of Mt. Rainier with you that I took from the plane as I was coming into Seattle.
Yes, it's July and that is snow and glaciers. Mt. Rainier has more glaciers than any other mountain in the lower 48. Five major rivers come out of all that snow and ice.
Before I take you into the Park, I need to share a very special story with you. As mentioned before, food hasn't always been easy to come by in the National Parks, for one reason or another, so as I was about to enter Mt. Rainier National Park, there was a little inn with a restaurant and lunch seemed like a grand idea...you know, just in case.
The server set two glasses of water down on the table, one in front of me and the other across the table from me. I smiled and told her I was by myself. She looked at me like I was mistaken and left. A few minutes later she returned, took my order, and then placed a plate in front of me and a plate on the other side of the table. I was thinking, "oh dear, she has some serious short term memory issues" and gently reminded her once again that I was by myself. She smiled at me and said, "No, I don't think you are alone, there is someone here with you and I keep wanting to serve them too!". I told her, "Oh, that's my daughter, Anna!". She gave me a smile and a look as if to say, "See? I told you so!"
As a grieving mother, her presence has been real to me, but it has been such a comforting gift when others tell me of their encounters with my daughter; and there have been many.
Anna's presence is still very real and she continues to make a difference in the lives of those around her.
The miracle of an encounter at a little inn stays with me and continues to strengthen and encourage me when I have no strength of my own.
14,410 feet tall
Rainier is a land of ancient trees and an exquisite grand mountain in the middle of it all.
This tree ring is located at the Longmire Visitor Center. It was 670 years old when it was cut down.
Remember this tree. We are going to see many more just as big or bigger.
The first night in the park I hiked up the Wonderland Trail. The Wonderland Trail is 93 miles long and encircles Mt. Rainier. You don't have to do the whole thing in order to enjoy its beauty.
This is the footbridge that gets you across Nisqually River over to Paradise River, Carter Falls, & Madcap Falls.
I thought it odd that the campground was completely full, but there was not a soul on this trail and it is near the campground. Don't get me wrong, I like being on a trail with no one around, especially this time of day. The light, like Heaven's glow; golden, warm and soft, beckons us to bask in all that is good about nature. This magical time of day is fleeting and it is time to get back to camp and make dinner.
I had heard the Henry Jackson Visitor Center at the top of the pass gets very busy, so I arrived an hour before they opened in order to get parking and did some hiking in the brisk morning air.
How's this for an entrance to a trail?
Paradise Inn. Looks only slightly better than my tent, right?
I did two different trails up here. They were quite different from each other. One was in the trees and quite snowy and the other was out in the open, mostly above tree line.
The first hike was quiet and had a very sacred feeling. Again, there was no one on the trail and I was able to soak all of it into the depths of my soul. There were acres and acres of Avalanche Lilies. Such a simple, little flower; pure and beautiful.
In this lilly patch was a hollowed out rock. I suppose it was formed by the glacier, but with the light streaming down on it, it reminded me of what Jesus' empty tomb must have looked like. cancer and death did their best to seperate us from our precious girl, but in the end failed, because Anna is safe in Heaven and we are never really apart.
Feeling Anna right beside me, I continued on to a cliff edge on the trail that takes your breath away. Looking down to the Nisqually River far below, your eye follows the river up to the Nisqually Glacier and further up to Mt. Rainier. To say that it is stunning, qualifies as an understatement. With all the other hikes I have planned today; it is going to be difficult to top this one.
The next trail was out in the open with an entirely different set of plants and ecosystem.
Can you see the little stone cabin?
Here it is in zoom mode.
Imagine what it must have been like living here decades ago.
Call me crazy or weird, but I love Marmots! There were so many of them foraging on the flowers and grass. The ones near our house in Colorado are much more shy than their relatives at Mt. Rainier. Aren't they adorable?
Speaking of flowers...
Before leaving the Paradise area, I stopped in to the visitor center (which is gorgeous) and saw a guy with this saying on his shirt. He gave me permission to share it with all of you.
A couple miles past Paradise to the east was a roadblock. It's the only flat place where they can land the helicopter and load supplies for the backcountry. So you sit and wait while the chopper is loaded and as soon as it's clear, the cars get to go until the chopper comes back for the next load.
I live in the mountains of Colorado, so I'm not easily impressed with mountain roads. The highest paved road in the United States is practically in my backyard! But Steven's Canyon Road over to the east side of the park is spectacular!
In addition to glaciers and alpine meadows, Mt. Rainier is also home to ancient forests. The Grove of the Patriarchs contains some of the oldest and biggest Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar in the US. Many of these trees are 200 feet tall and are over 1,000 years old...yeah they're really big. I find giant trees are some of the hardest things to photograph. Photos are supposed to tell a story and it is so hard to fathom how huge these trees are.
The trees along the trail to the Grove were quite large. They are twigs compared to the trees on the island of Patriarchs!
This is about 20 feet tall!
This area was so incredible that I did it twice!
Next stop: Narada Falls! Narada Falls may not be the tallest waterfall, but it is certainly the prettiest! Wow!
Let's do one more hike! Trail of Shadows is back at the Longmire area. It's a loop around a marshy pond with hot spring activity. During 1884 - 1888 there were some cabins around the lake, built by the Longmire family; only one remains. It's a really pretty area and felt it was worth it to do it twice, once in reverse.
That's 6 hikes that show you a wide array of the ecosystems in Rainier.
The next morning it was time to pack up camp and fly back home to Colorado.
This sweet little family greeted me on the way out.
Teddy found a friend at the exit of the park! Remember, John Reynolds, the Postmaster at Yosemite National Park? I met his daughter, Oleana there. Oleana was working at Mt. Rainier this summer and we were able to give her hugs on the way out of the park. Isn't she adorable?
I hope you have enjoyed this National Park as much as I did, and I encourage you to go explore it yourself. Trust me, you won't be disappointed!
'Anna' in the snow