It was my Senior year in high school when I was last at Mount Rainier. It was a place Ed & I had always wanted to explore and we wanted to take the girls, too. We knew that this year we would be pretty tired on the trip, after having been with family for 10 days, so we didn’t plan anything too strenuous…just the highlights and some fun.
It was a tad chilly the morning we left, but the forecast was pretty good. We arrived at the Federation Forest State Park in time for our picnic lunch. It was pretty chilly in there, so we ate quickly and continued our drive southward towards the mountain.
Our next stop was a pull-out by Skookum Falls, which is not real impressive in the summertime…not very much water. The drive was beautiful tho’, and we were seeing some amazing sights of God’s creation,
but Rainier was elusive..and as we continued to Sunrise Point, Rainier continued to hide…
We went on a small portion of the Sourdough Ridge Trail from Sunrise Point and saw some very cool Truffula Trees.
Okay, actually they’re Western Anemone seed pods. We liked them. They made us smile. I love it that while we were visiting this amazing and powerful mountain God created, this little seed pod also brought us great delight. What a creative and wonderful God!
There were LOADS of wildflowers at Rainier. Apparently July & August are the months to go if you like to see flowers. We loved it!
Then we headed a bit further up the mountain to the Sunrise Visitor Center area. We took a short hike, but we were so high…or the clouds were so low…that it was a tad chilly. Literally we were hiking in the clouds. The little girls were really tired, so we only did a portion of the trail while Ed & the big girls walked more of the ridge before heading back down.
That little white head there just to the left of the trail is Elise. She’s trying to pick up that bench. I do not know why. Probably because she was trying to avoid walking…
Still no view of Rainier…
Then we continued driving through the park to the southwestern entrance where our cabin was located. We stopped at Narada Falls, which was beautiful. There’s just a short little trail there – lots of bang for your buck, which is what I like in a hike.
After unloading at our cabin, we went into the “town” of Ashford and bought some frozen pizzas. We had dinner while watching Rio in our cabin. Well, mostly I slept and Ed & the girls watched. Little did I know that I was at the very beginning of the stomach flu that was going through our family…
The next morning the girls explored around the cabin while Ed & I packed things up.
Our first REAL view of the mountain! This picture doesn’t even begin to capture the enormity of Rainier. It is absolutely huge.
Up at Paradise, everything was beautiful. We got there before the crowds and headed into the visitor center. We wanted to watch the 22 minute movie, but it wasn’t working. We ended up doing the 1 mile trail to Myrtle Falls and enjoyed the peace and tranquility. Truly it felt like Paradise.
A glorious mountain.
Then we went back to the visitor center to watch the movie and it was really quite good! We learned why we couldn’t see Rainier the day before…apparently the mountain is SO BIG that it has its own weather system…which is why it’s such a dangerous mountain to climb. You gotta really know what you’re doing, and even then, you’re taking a risk. Me? I prefer the view in that previous picture.
Then we drove down to the Nisqually Vista Flower Trail parking lot and had lunch before taking that easy and beautiful walking trail.
This was incredible…see just to the right of the middle of the picture where that water is coming out of that dirty snow? That’s where the glacier melt comes out. Tremendous viewpoint.
After finishing that loop, we drove to the Grove of the Patriarchs trail, which was to be our last hike of our trip to Rainier. We had thought we might stop at a few other points along the way, but I started feeling really tired and sore and not well, so after this stop, we pretty much drove straight home, with just a short stop for dinner.
The Grove of the Patriarchs trail is in the old growth forests and is quiet and peaceful. I read all about what a great family-friendly trail it was and how it was a “must-do.” Funny how none of the articles mentioned this:
Uh…this is not such a good thing for a mother.
Especially when the father sends the children across the bridge more than one at a time.
It wasn’t very high. But it was very jiggly.
But even though we didn’t obey the sign, we made it. I’m not sure that was a good lesson to teach, however…
While on the trail, we were scoping out “river access”. Anyone that knows my girls knows that they LOVE water. So, we found river access near the bridge.
the blue part is where it suddenly gets deep…
I thought this looked so funny. She’s so close to the edge, but it’s so deep, she looks like she’s sitting on her knees! She’s not…it just has a major drop-off right there!
The water was quite cold and so Elise & Becca didn’t do too much wading. And I apologize, but there are no pictures of Becca at the river. Obviously, I was not feeling well…
Anyway, despite me getting sick, it was a great trip. We saw beautiful scenery, we stood amazed at our Creator, we relaxed together, and we crossed something of the “list of places to go and things to do before Sarah leaves for college” list. If you plan a trip to Rainier, I recommend using the Visit Rainier website as it has the driving loops, easy – strenuous hikes, lodging, other activities, etc., along with an interactive map to see where everything is located. We certainly didn’t see everything on our list, so maybe we’ll go back someday. I just hope it’s not 20+ more years!