Melina Gunnett

September 19, 2012

Mount Rainier

Filed under: Photographs, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 11:36 PM

I have spent a good part of the last two days hanging around the Oregon DMV trying to get my car registration and driver’s license straighten out. As with most things centred around the words ‘government’ and ‘paperwork’, it was frustrating. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow after I have recovered from the trauma. Today I want to think about more pleasant things, such as my trip up to Mount Rainier last weekend.

I spent the last year living under the shadow of Mount Rainier. Even from a distance the mountain is beautiful. I planned to drive up there numerous times, but something always came up that seemed more important. After all, I could always go up to the mountain another time – it was right there! It finally took moving away to get me to actually take a drive up there.

The drive itself was worth the trip. Had I started earlier in the day, I would have liked to have made a few more stops along the way. There were a couple of little railroad towns along the way that looked like they might be fun to explore. Next time I think I will make reservations for the scenic railroad tour up to Mineral Lake.

Alder Lake

I did stop for a bit at Alder Lake. It caught my eye as I was driving past and I couldn’t resist. The entire Northwest has been experiencing a long dry summer and the Nisqually river is currently no more than a trickle. This meant that Alder lake, which is a reservoir on the Nisqually, is currently low enough to display every long lost stump usually concealed within its depths. I am sure that the lake is normally picturesque, but with so much of the water gone, it was fascinating.

The lake was created in 1945 with the building of Alder dam. There hasn’t been time to grow trees that would provide stumps that large, so those stumps are probably from when the lake was originally created, that meas that they have spent most of the last 77 years underwater. It makes me wonder, if I took a boat out onto the lake, what else I would find.

Instead of renting a boat, I continued on toward Mount Rainier. A few miles before the park entrance I took a little detour by the Ashford Mansion. Okay, it was actually a wrong turn, but it was so pretty I kept going and ended up seeing some interesting things I would have missed out on otherwise. Like a tiny pond with a tee-pee and a wooden boat. This wasn’t a tourist attraction, it was someone’s yard.

teepee lake

I also found the Ashford mansion and a really cool house that I fell in love with. I could easily see myself living there.

Ashford MansionCute House

The road ended up winding back into town (the name of the town was, surprise, surprise, Ashford.). Once again on the correct road, I continued on and finally made it to Rainier Park. I’m not sure what I expected, but what I found was better. From a distance, Mount Rainier always seemed like a stand alone mountain. Up close, while it is the tallest mountain around, it is surrounded by many other mountains and valleys. There were several places through out the park where I could pull over and just enjoy the view as Rainier grew closer.

Mt. Rainier

Interesting peaksThese look outs also provided amazing views of the other weather worn peaks in the area. One of my favourite spots was Narada Falls, just before we reached the summit (Well as close as I could get to the summit by car.). What I could see of the falls was great and next time I plan to Rock wallgive myself enough time to get out and hike the short trail that wanders around the to the front of the falls for a better look. The trail will also put me directly underneath this amazing rock wall, which was on the most interesting outcroppings I saw that day.

Top of the FallsUnfortunately, by the time I reached the falls, it was already getting close to sunset. I didn’t bring a real camera with me, just my phone, and it was getting too dark to take very good pictures even if I had time to take the trail. So back into the car I went and finished the drive up to Paradise – That is what the area nearest the top is called, the Paradise Henry M Jackson Memorial Visitor Center.

I reached the top just as the sun was getting ready to set. The visitor center was already closed for the day, but the there were plenty of placards and trail maps. I hadn’t really thought about hiking, but once I reached the top, I wish I had. The trail up to the Nisqually glacier was only about a mile and would have been spectacular. One more thing to add to my “next time” list.

I got out and walked around for a bit and wished, not for the first of the last time that day, that I had left earlier. There will definitely be a next time, because it was already starting to get dark. It was time to turn around and head home.

Rainier from Paradise

The trip down the mountain seemed a lot quicker than the trip up. I am sure it was, since I wasn’t stopping to take photos and look at the scenery. I need to go back to keeping my camping equipment in the car. It would have been a good night to drop a tent somewhere and continue my adventure the next day. Yup, another thing for my “next time” list.

I did make one last stop on the way back. At the base of the mountain there is a little restaurant called the Wildberry Cafe. They specialize in Yak burgers – also on my “next time” list, I had a burger for lunch – and Himalayan dishes. The Himalayan stew was good, their salads are HUGE and next time, after all that hiking, I am going to be hungry enough for their wild berry pie.

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