Mount Rainier National Park
I was absolutely blown away by how amazing Mount Rainier National Park was. I had seen a lot of beautiful pictures and even read up on the park beforehand. “Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits.” (NPS.gov)
Sounds awesome. But I had still imagined the park being more of just being one big mountain rising up out of a relatively flat landscape, kind of like the other volcanoes I had been to.
Wrong. Oh so wrong.
Instead, it’s just a f*cking massive mountain rising out of a range other other massive mountains….
Heading west and coming around a curve on US 12 / White Pass, the first big view of Rainier is like a smack to the face – a colossal white peak rising from a luscious pine forest. We entered the park through the Stevens Canyon Entrance on the southeastern edge and ascended through the thick forest around Backbone Ridge and headed to the Paradise area, stopping at each and every overlook the whole way through.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend much time there at all. We had just spent three days at the Gorge and basically turned the park into the extremely out-of-the-way scenic route back to Seattle. It was a visit that involved driving around and getting out of the car at overlooks during arguably the exact worst hours for any landscape photography – we entered the park around 11:30 a.m. and were headed back to Seattle at 4 p.m., missing any golden light. But in a way, that’s kind of a good thing. I’m pretty motivated to get back there in the relative near-future.