Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mount Rainier :: Wow! Perfect Timing, Again!

Wednesday, September 15th - - After leaving the visitor center at Paradise late yesterday afternoon, I drove over to the southeast side of the Mount Rainier National Park and stayed at the campground at Ohanapecosh. I woke up early this morning and, in the hopes that the mountain would once again be out, decided to go to the Sunrise area on the northeast side, about an hours drive.

The campground was sheltered beneath a canopy of tall trees and it was hard to tell what the weather was really like. Leaving the campground I was disappointed to find the sky blanketed by gray clouds. But one thing I've learned about western Washington in my brief stay here is that just because the weather is lousy “here” doesn't mean it will be “there” too!

Half an hour after leaving the campground, I was ecstatic when I rounded a curve and there was Mt. Rainier! Rather gray in the early morning gloom, but there it was!

In the next 15 minutes, the mountain could be seen in several places and each vista presented a slightly different view. The road then went on the side away from Rainier and I could see that the sun would soon break through the clouds. The road twisted and turned and the going was agonizingly slow but after another 20 minutes I was at Sunrise Point.

From there on the views were absolutely stunning, especially whenever the sun decided to make an appearance.

A few minutes later, I was at the nearly empty parking lot of the Sunrise visitor center, which was closed for the season as was the Ranger Station. I strolled along one of the numerous trails, intending to walk for half an hour or so. But it was such a beautiful day and the mountain was mesmerizing. My short walk ended up being more than three hours long.

Looking north from the Sourdough Ridge Trail. (Double-click on this one to open the larger image - it's worth the extra clicks...)

Another view, looking north, from the Sourdough Ridge Trail.

The valley between Sourdough Ridge and Mt Rainier. The road is a gravel service road. There were workers out doing maintenance on some of the trails.

I walked to the other side of Burroughs Mountain (the ridge running in front of Mt Rainier). There was a trail that went up there with a view of Frozen Lake. I started up it but turned around after realizing it would take more time and energy than I could muster.

At times, the mountain seemed so close. Like I could reach out and touch it.

Why doesn't that snow fall? What is holding it up there? How deep is it?

To return to the parking lot, I took another trail, which went down into the valley. There weren't as many views of the mountain but the stillness and peacefulness were almost overwhelming.

Upon reaching the parking lot I decided to go down one more trail. A short one, less than half a mile round-trip, to Emmons Vista. Probably one of the most-photographed views of Rainier, just because it is so close to the visitors center.

Less than an hour later, you guessed it, the gray clouds had moved back in and the sun had taken its leave. And so did I.


Danielle said...

I love these pictures!! I grew up at the northwest base of Mount Rainier. I sure do miss it!

Michelle Goodrum said...

The picture from Emmons Vista looks like it could be on a postcard. Beautiful!