Everyone has a favorite places. Michelle and I have our favorite restaurant (Brad’s Swingside Café) our favorite wineries (Dusted Valley, Ross Andrew, to name two), our favorite date night spots, and even our favorite Hotel Chain (Holiday Inn Express!). We try new places all the time, but always migrate back to old reliables.
If I was asked about my favorite place of all time though, anywhere in the world, I would answer quickly without hesitation. Aside from snugged up next to Michelle in bed, the place I’d want to be on any given day, is Mt. Rainier National Park.
I’ve mentioned it quite a few times over the last year of 15,000 miles, but I thought it was a good time to devote a post to it!
I distinctly remember the first time I saw the mountain. At the end of the 1st, summer of 1971, my dad was stationed (I am an army brat) at Ft. Lewis here in Washington State. We (Mom, Dad, and 3 kids (at the time) ) drove cross-country in a VW hatchback.
I honestly don’t remember a lot about this trip. There was riding a horse in Missoula (we got hit by a thunderstorm) but that is about it. However, I distinctly remember the first time we saw Mt Rainier. Both mom and dad were east coast flatlanders. (No the Appalachians until maybe Vermont, and Maine do NOT count). The clouds parted and they saw the mountain for the first time.
With it being 14,410 feet tall, you can see it from most of western Washington. With the glaciers and height, it is snowcapped all year round. Mom and Dad had a LONG discussion about whether the white stuff they were seeing was clouds or snow. “It’s the middle of summer, how could it be snow!” “Big mountains have snow all the time.” “Why” “Because its cold up there all the time.”
Well, being the inquisitive type (shocking I know) I asked, “Hey, the mountain is closer to the sun, shouldn’t it be warmer up there?” Can’t remember the answer I got…
Our family spent a lot of time up there when I was a kid.
When I grew up (ok I use that term loosely) I decided to climb that sucker! Ok, I decided to TRY and climb that sucker! I won’t retell the climbing stories, I know I have many times. But tell me these pictures don’t prove it was worth the try!
However, the best part of Mt Rainier is the fact that you do NOT have to climb it to enjoy it and see amazing things. I recently posted pictures from my mountain biking trip into the Carbonado entrance (as well as cool pictures, but I did forget this one.
However, a car can get you to some memorable places! This is Narada falls, notice the road goes right over the top of it.
This is just one of MANY streams and waterfalls in the park you will see as you drive to Paradise or Sunrise visitor centers. What I like is the fact that when it is hot, you can get natural air-conditioning by driving up to the snow. Here at Tipsoo lake, I have snowshoed when its 80 degrees out!
I will warn you though, bring the spf 50. The sun reflecting off the snow will parboil you! Up and until August (most years) you are able to drive to the snow on any day! One Independence day when I was a kid, we brought home snow in a buncha coolers and we had a snowball fight in the neighborhood before the fireworks!
As you can see, the next generation of Moutainstrohs enjoy it as well.
This park has MILES of hiking trails. I won’t even try to tell you about them, just know that if you like flowers, snow, lakes, waterfalls, creeks, views or animals there is a trail that will get you to any (and sometimes ALL ) of these. You can even see some of the other mountains we have here.
I have hiked there many times, but I haven’t put the slightest dent in the overall miles of trails there are in the park. One Year, with the Washington Trails Association, I gave back a small part of what the park gave me. I worked on a crew that was rerouting a trail.
Of course rerouting means BUILDING a new trail from scratch. My job was to dig out these stumps using picks, shovels. Crowbars and pure muscle. When I was donethey were out!
I am lucky enough to see this mountain year round on my commute to work. Rarely does the sight of it NOT bring a smile to my face. I know the Rockies and Alaska, hell even California, has mountains bigger that Rainier. But they sure as hell don’t have any as spectacular as MY mountain!
Michelle and I have MANY found memories of this mountain. If you get a chance to come out here, visit, multiple days if possible. Bring cameras, journals and if you are an artist, drawing supplies. You will NOT be disappointed!