Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mt. Rainier in the rain, 2008

The torrential downpour we had today had me thinking of how lucky I was to be inside, warm and dry. And how last year in September I was on Mt. Rainier with some friends backpacking in the rain. And Pam over at Digging has a week-long celebration of our wonderful National Parks so I thought I'd add my own post to the list.

How's that for a backdrop to your hike.
Mt. Rainier in Washington is an awesome mountain and park. We decided to hike part of the Wonderland Trail which encircles the mountain, a journey of many days. A map of the park is found here. We only had 3. So we started at Mowitch Lake in the northwest of the park and hiked down to Ipsut Creek Camp. A steep drop in 5.5 miles. Then the next day back up (a steep up) to Mystic Lake, some 8 miles. Then the third day the whole way back, retracing most of our steps. On the first day we were racing the setting sun and the 2nd and 3rd days we were racing storm clouds. It was a brutal hike, but well worth it.

On the second day, we came into this little vale literally full of wildflowers of all different colors. It was good to see two of my favorites, lupine and Indian paintbrush. This paintbrush was an incredibly vibrant pink unlike the more orangish reds I'm familiar with here in California.

In the sea of wildflowers was this little guy, a marmot, perched on a rock just watching the people walk by on the trail.

In the pic below you can see a little more closely one of the best reasons for this park, glaciers. I was lucky enough to walk on Glacier Grey in Patagonia (a Chilean friend of mine was working there leading tours) and was awed by the experience. I remember all different shades of blues, and the sky reflected on the ice. I have never seen a purer blue than when looking into a well of water on the glacier. It saddens me that they are all shrinking and may not be around much longer.

I'm always amazed at how much water there is and how green everything is in the Pacific Northwest. Here in the SF Bay Area, we're kind of on the tail end of that climate (similar plants, animals, weather patterns), but it really is just different. You won't find this pic anywhere around here in September.

It rained hard the 2nd night and our campsite started to flood. We had to move everything to higher ground and soaked all of our freshly donned dry clothing in the process. Other than that, it was a great trip and we were no worse for wear. Thanks again to Pam and Ken Burns for inspiring her great posts.


  1. What a lovely post. Quite a treat to see all the wildflowers. We saw much of the same last year in the Pacific Northwest....wish we could share their water here down south.

  2. I've been wanting to do the Wonderland Trail for years. It sounds great. I want to climb the mountain, too. Someday.

  3. Your pics are beautiful, Brad. I'm admiring all that moss in the last picture, and those wildflowers in other pictures. Not to mention the grand mountain itself. Thanks for taking us to the Pacific Northwest and for participating in the bloggers' celebration of national parks.

  4. Sounds like quite a hike! I must admit I prefer dry hikes, but the wildflowers look like they made up for the soak.

  5. What a beautiful place! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I would like to some version of this hike too, but I'm such a rain sissy I wonder if I should.