A Summer Day in May

Summertime and the livin’ is easy here in the Pacific Northwest.  After the longest rainy season on record, summer arrived with gusto this week with temperatures in the seventies and eighties.  We poor, cold, and waterlogged natives embraced the sunshine and are soaking up the long overdue rays while they are here.

That includes me as I head to Coulon Park in the heat of the day where I find the irises in bloom and bright as the sun,

and these walkers blending in with the green.

The view of Rainier to the south was striking as always..

but the Olympics floated in the haze somewhat ghostly to the west,

reminding me that I will welcome the cleansing of the next refreshing rain.  I am after all, a  true native.

~ Susanne

Mt Rainier Up Close and Personal

Did you know there is a Paradise on earth?  Well yes, there is!  And it can be found at Mt Rainier National Park!

After being teased by beautiful local views of the mountain we decide to take the drive to the National Park for an up close and personal look at Mt. Rainier.  No, not for the first time, but for the first time this year.  A sunny day is promised and the roads are clear.

We arrive at the south entrance to the Park at Longmire, and after lunch at the historic National Park Inn, take the drive up to the Paradise Visitor center.

Mt Rainier National Park was established in 1899 and was the fifth U.S. National Park.  It was the first to be designed from a master plan to include entrance arches, rustic buildings, scenic lookouts, trails and visitor centers, becoming a pattern for National Parks to follow. We stop at many viewpoints and waterfalls on our way to Paradise.

Near the top we spot a red fox by the side of the road who wisely climbs the snow bank to safer ground.

We arrive at the Visitor Center at 5,400 feet and enjoy close-ups of the 14,410 foot volcano, the second highest mountain in the continental U.S.  It is also one of the snowiest places on earth.

It is from Paradise that climbers make their way to Camp Muir at 10,188 feet so they can rise under the darkness of night for the climb to the top. Over 10,000 people a year attempt the climb and almost half as many make it.  With binoculars, you can already see climbers making their way up to Camp Muir. Others are content to play in the snow a little closer to the ground.

After our visit we head back down for a short hike at Longmire in an area where meadows meet the forest. We take the boardwalk through hot springs, skunk cabbage and fragrant woods.

Under the tree canopy I tell Bob to look for the buried treasure ahead.   ‘X marks the spot’ I say, but he walks on by.

We complete the loop, following the trail into golden meadows where more views of Mt. Rainier await,

until we are finally back to where we started.

On the drive home we pass by the Recycled Spirits of Iron Sculpture Park near the small town of Elbe.  For just a donation you can walk among the unusual sculptures created by artist Dan Klennert which we did,

finishing up with a song.

And so after a wonderful day under sunny skies at the most beautiful mountain in America we head back home, once again counting our blessings that we live in such an amazing part of the world.

~  Susanne

Mt Rainier on a summer day…

We don’t usually make the drive to Mt. Rainier on a sunny Saturday in the middle of summer.  But this past weekend that is exactly what we decided to do, heading from Renton through Enumclaw  to the Sunrise side of the mountain.  We didn’t make it all the way to the Visitor Center (6,400 ft) as we opted out of the bumper to bumper traffic at the entrance gate. No matter. The mountain is not limited to the boundaries of the park and we found incredible views nonetheless.

It’s Mount Rainier, after all.

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