Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier is the highest volcano and 5th highest mountain in continental USA. We visited Mt Rainier last week and saw many faces of it from many angles and different weather conditions.

Our first glimpse of the magnificent mountain was from a ferry when we traveled by car from Olympic park to Seattle. Although the mountain peak is about 100 km from Seattle, it towers everything in sight, even from the Space Needle - another landmark in Washingtonian state.

View of Mt Rainier from a ferry
View of Rainier from Space Needle
Most time Mt Rainier is under the cover of clouds. We were lucky that on the late afternoon arrival at Paradise Valley in the Mt Rainier National Park that it was clear and the glaciated Mountain was there for us to see and admire.
Mt Rainier
We stayed inside Mt Rainier National Park for 2 more full days. Our first morning at Mt Rainier was a cloudy one with dense fog, and we could not see the summit of Mt Rainier at all. We had a relative late breakfast at 8 am, and left the lodge around 9 am for Sunrise point which is 51 miles away from Paradise valley - hoping that the cloud would break later. Lucky for us again, as we approached reflection lakes, the cloud started to break open. We waited for half an hour or so and our patience paid off - the cloud broke away with only a piece of cloud at the summit - like a white hat to Rainier. The wind was at a right angle such that one of the lakes had a mirror flat surface to reflect the mountain.
Reflection Lake
Sunrise point is 1000 ft higher than Paradise Valley, at 6400 ft elevation. We arrived there around 12 pm - the mountain was covered by cloud again - so we went for lunch first after a short hike on clover lake trail.

It was blue sky with white cloud again when we were ready for more hikes and more views of Mt Rainier. We first took on the Sunrise Nature Trail through snow covered subalpine meadows for breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and the Cascades Range. Follow the Sunrise Nature Trail to the ridgetop to frozen lake, then head west on the Sourdough Ridge Trail to first Burroughs Mountain trail to reach the tundra - close to the foot of the summit - reach elevation around 7000 ft. The surrounding mountains were below our feet! The Emmons glacier was right in front our eyes.
 Mt Rainier viewed from east 
on the frozen lake trail
Emmons Glacier (left hand side)
The second morning at Mt Rainier started with even denser fog. The mountain was invisible most of the time. We went down 1000 ft  to the Grove of Patriarch trails and Silver Falls trail. After lunch break at trail head picnic table, we drove to snow lake trail.

Until after dinner at National Inn's restaurant at Longmire, the cloud broke just a bit. Mt Rainier revealed itself behind the veil of clouds

Veil of Clouds for Mt Rainier
View of Mt Rainier from Longmire Suspension bridge
Mt Rainier 's image was constantly changing as we viewed it from different directions, various elevations and under constantly changing weather conditions.

An active volcano, the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A, Mt Rainier is an icon on the horizon, a great wilderness.


1. Best time to visit Mt Rainier would be mid July to August (we were a bit early - but luck out weather wise)
2. Best lodging would be at Paradise Inn where we stayed. Sunrise Lodge has limited rooms, but would be great to stay there for a night to watch sunrise.
3. It would be great to camp inside the park
4. There are much more in the park other than the Mt Rainier - water falls, glacier lakes, meadows, flowers, birds and wild life.

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