Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mt Rainier, land of the wild flowers

The problem with knowing only approximately where you'll be at any given point, and also with the National Park Service operating campgrounds in national parks on a first-come, first-served basis, is finding a place to stay for the night in national parks. Unless you drive immediately to your campground (on the other side of the park!) in the morning and reserve it, you'll have to leave the park at evening to find a campground if they're all full. So in the morning, we drove back in to Mt Rainier.

Mt Rainier is the highest peak in the Cascades mountain range, which stretches from California to the top of Washington. It's also, like Mt St Helens, a sleeping volcano.

Christine Falls

Narada Falls

The Paradise area of Mt Rainier lives up to its name; that is, if you like snow in the middle of summer. Amazingly, the weather is warm enough for shorts and t-shirts only, an odd combination in the snow.

But the real attraction here is the wild flowers - hundreds carpeting the alpine meadows which were slowly appearing out from under a blanket of snow.

It was like walking in a wild rock garden....

We took the trail up to Panorama Point - it was beautiful!

A man coming down the trail told us to watch for marmoots. We found one really close in the lower meadows! It's changing colour here from white to brown for its summer coat.

Next, we drove to the Sunrise area of Mt Rainier, and walked along part of the trail. The weather was threatening to rain, and the mountain had closed in with cloud. But the views were still great.

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