2 On The Road Blog

After 12 years of full-time rving, we've sold our truck and trailer but we're still traveling. Email us at wowpegasus@hotmail.com if you would like to contact us.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Mt. Rainier National Park

We had originally decided to visit Seattle but, with temperatures near 90°, we decided to got to Mt. Rainier instead. All the facilities are not yet open and some of the roads are closed due to snow or damage, but we found enough things to do to keep us busy for a day. We came in through the Nisqually entrance in the SW corner of the park. My original plan was to come in through the Ohanapecosh entrance in the SE corner of the park. I changed the plan because the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center wouldn't be open when we got there. I'm glad I changed the plan because the road between Ohanapecosh and Paradise was closed. We wouldn't have seen any of the things we did. There are still things to see by coming in the other entrance so we'll be back.
First we visited the Longmire Museum housed in the original park headquarters building. Read all about it in the next photo.

Double-click to enlarge.
Before we went into the museum, we checked out the douglas-fir cross section just outside the door. Nolan thought he'd stand there to give you some scale as to the size of it.
It was cut down by a paper company in 1963. Now for lots of words straight out of the park brochure. Moisture-laden weather systems move off the Pacific Ocean, batter the sides of Mount Rainier, and drop record-setting quantities of snow at higher elevations before drifting eastward.

The huge amount of total precipitation - about 87 inches each year at Longmire and 126 inches at Paradise - shapes everything you see, from the 26 glaciers that cap the mountain to the dense stands of Douglas fir, western redcedar, and western hemlock that contribute to the old-growth forest at its base.

In the subalpine parks, or meadows, on the mountain's shoulders abundant moisture blends with volcanic soils and intense summer sunlight to bring forth some of the most breath-taking wildflower meadows on Earth.

As an active volcano Mount Rainier stands as a reminder of the beauty and power of nature. The Cascade Range has been volcanically active for millions of years, thanks to its location close to the western edge of the North American tectonic plate. The mountain we see today is relatively young in geologic terms: it formed about 500,000 years ago. Like Mount St. Helens and other Cascade volcanoes, Mount Rainier has the potential to erupt again at some unknown time. Volcanologists expect the mountain to give ample warning before entering an eruptive period, but the threat of unexpected mudflows exists throughout the park. This is the end of the information I copied from the brochure.

I didn't see information on the second ascent by a woman but the third woman to successfully reach the peak was a 15-year-old!

What a pile of rocks! Yes the Nisqually River flows through this area but you can't see it in this photo.

We stopped by the side of the road and saw the top of Christine Falls, only later in the trip we came to discover this was the middle of the falls.
Then we went across the bridge and took the path down to a viewpoint. Here is the bridge we crossed over and the bottom of the falls. I can tell you it was much, much more beautiful than the photos show and it was noisy!
We continued into the park and crossed a bridge over the Nisqually River. It starts at the Nisqually Glacier. This is downstream.

This us upstream toward the glacier and Mt. Rainier.

Looks like a section of the road fell down the hillside during the winter.

Yes this is Mt Rainier... all I can say is that this photo doesn't do it justice. Maybe the photos would have turned out better if it was a sunny day. We'll just have to go back. It was awesome in person!

Imagine this photo to the right of the preceeding photo. This is the end of Nisqually Glacier and the start of the river. We could actually see the blue of the glacier ice. Oh, the bridge down there is where we took the river photos that preceed this one.

This photo shows you where the glacier front has been over the years.

There were clouds on the top of the mountain all day.

Double click to enlarge so you can read this info panel.

Oh I wished this photo showed the red color of the mountain in the background. The white slash in the lower bottom is a waterfall.

While I was photographing the mountains, Nolan was planning a sneak attack. I caught him in the act of forming a snow ball!

I managed to dodge it.

Our next stop was Narada Falls. First we looked upstream. Look how the snow overhangs the stream.

Next I peered over the edge of the fence that surrounds the parking area. At the top of the photo, you see a bridge that the stream runs under. It drops quickly then vanishes over the edge of a cliff. We could not see the bottom.

The only way to see the bottom of the falls was to cross the bridge and take a path down to the bottom. Well the path was totally covered in snow. We slid halfway down it!
We even crossed a snow-covered bridge.

That's the end of the trail but mist from the falls was in the air and it was very, very cold down there.

But my man Nolan went to the end to get this photo of the falls cascading over the cliff. He didn't stay there long.
I did lean over and try to see the bottom but I couldn't see it. There is a snow bridge down there, and if you enlarge the photo, you can see an orange highway cone sitting on it.

Finally we arrive at Paradise. This is the new Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center. It is the main visitor center in the park. There are several other building at Paradise including a sports shop and a lodge. In the visitor center there's a fantastic photo of the lodge in winter. It's completely snow-covered! It's not open in the winter.

There were motorcycle parking spots at the end of every line.

I don't know of these people were skiing on the slope or headed up the mountain. Around 10,000 people attempt to climb Mt Rainier every year but only half make it.

Love this info panel. See the next three photos. When they built the new visitor center, archeologist came in to lead the excavation. Lots of artifacts from the old Paradise Camp were found and were on display in the visitor center.

The inside of the visitor center from the second story by the gift shop. Displays about the animals, rocks and history of the mountain is on the other side. Downstairs is the information desk, theater and cafe.

I took this photo from the parking lot. Just one of the nearby mountains.

While at the visitor center, Nolan took this photo of a glacier on the mountain. You can see the blue of the glacier.

There was still plenty of snow at Paradise so I thought I would try to climb it. That's as far as I got. That stuff was hard!

We went over to the old visitor center (which was totally buried in snow) to check out the view.

We met four oversize trucks during our trip down the mountain. We guessed they were transporting the equipment in preparation for the demolition of the old visitor center.
There were lots of falls along the road.

Ok the white strip down the center of the mountain is a waterfall.
We decided to hike to another falls and started off on the trail.

Just a short way up the trail we came across the top of Christine Falls, the falls we took pictures of as we went up the mountain. Here's looking upstream.
It falls into pools, swirls around and then continues downstream and under the bridge we were standing on.

This is looking downstream from the bridge. If you look close, or enlarge the photo, you can see the road bridge down below.
We continued up the trail to go see another falls when we came upon this sign. Oh.... well it counldn't be too bad, could it?

It got muddy and then we came across a snow bridge. There were holes in the bridge and we could see down several feet so we decided to turn around and go back down the trail.

Our last stop before leaving the park was at the Kautz Creek trail. We only walked the boardwalk.
It lead to Kautz Creek. There must have been lots of iron in the creek because it was red.

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