Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mt Rainier NP - Day 1

Thursday



Mt. Rainier, standing 14,410 feet tall, encompasses dense forests, wildflower meadows, snowfields, and glaciers.  All this makes it one vast snowy show-off!  The National Park Service protects approximately 250,000 of its acres.  

Summit seen from Cougar Rock Campground

The mountain's looming bulk dominates the landscape to such a degree it’s almost impossible to take in.  I’ve learned that it’s one thing to be surrounded by a mass of 14-ers like the majestic Rockies, but quite another to have an intimate encounter with just one lone monolith.  With the Rockies, promiscuity is permitted; Rainier requires commitment.  Even if it's short-term like mine was. 



Mt. Rainier National Park is two things: 1) spectacular and 2) crowded.  


And this was hours after the first crush at Paradise Visitors' Center


And why shouldn’t it be?  Crowded, that is.  Almost 300-feet of annual snowfall makes the park inaccessible much of the year.  And the summer vacation season is in full-swing.  When I feel cramped and impatient, I try to remember to balance this with gratitude that so many people visit this treasure.  

One day, this will belong to all those bored-looking teenagers. 

I spend the night at Cougar Rock Campground.  It’s a lovely enclave of trees, rocks, and flowing water.  It offers a variety of trails.   

The GDB peeks shyly out from our campsite on the right.

As blog readers know, I have become somewhat squirrely about hiking alone.  But I manage not to psych myself out over the next 2 days.  Maybe I’m cured? (she said hopefully).  I spend an agreeable couple of hours exploring the Longmire Trail.






In the evening, I attend a Park Service program where Ranger Steve makes a masterful case regarding how nature enriches all of us.  



4 comments:

  1. Sometimes I hike alone and sometimes I turn back after a short while on the trail. I let my instincts tell me if it is a good idea to continue. I like an "open" trail better than a heavily wooded trail. I am in grizzly country this summer, so I carry bear spray and do not hike as far as I would like.

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  2. Maybe the creepy guys stay away from national parks. The rangers do carry guns! Glad you got to do some hiking there.
    Gayle

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  3. "nature enriches all of us" That pretty much says it all right there.

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  4. We make lots of noise when hiking in bear country. I do not want to startle a bear of any kind. And I'm not shy about talking loudly as we hike or clapping hands or singing. ANY bear would stay away from my singing. LOL. Haven't yet seen a bear on the trail.

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