More fun at Mount Rainier!

Toutle Travel Blog

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Okay, who knew that Mount Rainier National Park was so spectacular?!  We were amazed at the many features of this brilliant National Park!

This morning, our Ohanapecosh Campground was so lush with old-growth, tall trees that it stayed dark with light beaming into a nearby opening in the branches.  Beautiful!  We exchanged info on the roads and hikes with our VW Bus friend from yesterday.

We traversed the national park west to Paradise.  We thought it would take about an hour, but we found so many fabulous hikes and waterfalls that it took us all day.  The weather was just glorious again today!

The ancient trees on the acclaimed hike, "Grove of the Ancient Patriarchs" were just amazing.  My camera batteries died on the shot right before the twin 1000-year old fir trees.

  Thousand years old!  How amazing is that?  They must have had a 12-foot diameter each and a boardwalk was built up to them so human feet would not trample roots during picture-taking.  We crossed a suspension bridge one at a time (as a sign suggested) to get to the island where the ancient trees towered.  The roots of those trees that had fallen in a 1970 windstorm were equally amazing.  We read the interpretive signs along the way about the volcanic ash in the soil, the animals thriving there, and of course, the amazing trees.

Box canyon was gorgeous with its 180-foot drop from the road to river.  You could hear the water crashing through the rocks far below.

We hiked down to the viewpoint at Navara Falls where a full rainbow on the 168-foot waterfall matched a picture on an interpretive board.

  That was one of the most stunning waterfalls I've ever seen!

Dream and Reflection Lakes were very clear, peaceful, and beautiful with Mt. Rainier magnificent in the background.

By afternoon, Mt. Rainier became shrouded in clouds and we were glad to have admired it clearly before that.

Paradise had a Visitor's Center, but very little parking.  They also had a lodge, a ranger station for climbers to check-in before their ascent, a gift shop, etc.  On October 10th, a new Visitor's Center is scheduled to open.  While that new area was closed off to traffic, it did not look like it had much additional parking.  For miles there were parallel parking spots (along the cliff edge!) that lined the one-way road out to the parkway again.

  I have no idea how they are going to handle high-season traffic.  We had to drive by the parking lot and about a mile of additional parallel parking on a Thursday afternoon in September in order to find a place to park.  By that time, it was WAY too far to walk back just for a fun explore of yet another Mt. Rainier Visitor's Center, so we drove on.  I just shake my head at that design because I don't see it working very well.  There was no place to even walk from that parking- it was plain scary along the cliff on a large hairpin turn!

Speaking of scary, my nightly nightmares are of driving difficulties:  backing off cliffs, wheels sliding off road shoulders, etc.  I'm trying to psychoanalyze those!  It may be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the southern Dempster Highway drive.

  :)

We stopped in Longmire and long admired (harhar) the historic buildings, the ranger station, museum, old Longmire Inn with gift shop (and ice cream!), the government housing buildings for park employees, and the suspension bridge over the fast-moving glacier runnoff river.  The Longmire Inn would be a delightful place to spend a weekend.

There was a slice of an old log on display at the Longmire Museum.  There were little arrows pointing to some of the many tree rings and indicting the dates world events to show how that tree had lived through them all.  Amazing!

A small, hand-written roadside sign alerted us to a Mt. Saint Helens viewpoint.  Official signs marked the turn off and a mile up the road was an interpretive board with an arrow pointing to the mountain.

We had a clear view of the volcano and it was beautiful!

Finally, we made it to Seaquest State Park, just across from Mt. Saint Helens first of 5 interpretive centers.  We came to the Western entrance of Mt. Saint Helens since the road to Windy Ridge on the eastern side is closed.  Our plan is to see all 5 centers before heading back to meet the Lazy Daze group in Astoria by evening.  We cannot wait to see them!

p.s.  Remember the 12:35 pm Tuesday ferry from Lopez to Anacortes that we were lucky to catch?  Well Ned told me tonight of 8 shootings that we must have narrowly missed while driving south, given the timing:  http://www.nbc30.com/news/17375345/detail.html  That is really tragic. 

 

 

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Mount St. Helens from the highway …
Mount St. Helens from the highway…
Toutle
photo by: aelder2259