“Mt. Rainier National Park” was carved into a long wooden board that hung above the entry. Lava layers, glaciers, and glacially carved canyons grace Mt. Rainier, an active, sleeping volcano. Rock walls line the roadway and lookouts, mimicking the natural landscape. Waterfalls and rivers rush throughout the park. Enormous amounts of natural debris lay scattered in the Nisqually River and creeks. Years ago, Kautz Creek shifted as mudslides or lahar poured down the mountain. Mud snapped trees as it formed natural concrete that covered the roots, smothering them.
Beth and I strolled through the trees to Kautz Creek. The power of Mother Nature was apparent. The amount of debris around the creek left little to the imagination. Natural concrete was visible amongst the logs, the rocks, the brush. Kautz Creek had taken a big hit. Presently, a small stream of water rushes through the rocky, log strewn landscape.
Several overlooks drew our attention. We stopped to take in the scenery. When our eyes became heavy, we pulled over to rest. Fifteen minutes later, refreshed yet somewhat foggy, we drove to the next point. Upon our arrival, a Tibetan monk asked us to join him for a photo. Half asleep, Beth and I stood on either side of this man in gold. He was glowing. His interpreter snapped our photo and said, “You are very fortunate.” Being somewhat out of it from our respite, Beth and I looked at each other and said, “What just happened?” The monk waved as he drove away, we just laughed, oblivious to how we were selected for such an honor.
Narada Falls was incredible. With a short walk to the falls, we meandered down the trail. The monk was posing with other tourists. He smiled at us and continued up the trail. Monks always seem to be smiling, like Laughing Buddhas. Narada Falls graced us with mist. The greenery on each side of the mountain appeared to be a hue of rainbow mist. Beth and I stood opposite the falls snapping pictures, trying to capture the beauty before us.
Mt. Rainier had vanished, or so it appeared on our drive up. The air cooled considerably. Dark clouds formed around us. The sun virtually disappeared. Beth and I joined the Seiser-Brown family at the Visitor’s Center to watch a Mt. Rainier movie. When the narrator mentioned Mt. Rainier being an active volcano, Betsy leaned over and whispered, “We better get outta here!” We laughed. Mt. Rainer will definitely do some damage when it does blow. After a family dinner at the Paradise Inn Restaurant, Beth and I drove down the hill to our campsite.
After a good night’s rest and a leisurely morning around a campfire we returned to Paradise Inn. On our drive, the upper half of Mt. Rainier was hidden in the clouds. I thought we missed our opportunity to see Mt. Rainier up close and personal. However, once we met our friends and decided to hike the Skyline/Dead Horse Creek Trail, the sky cleared. The sun reflected off the snow, presenting the majesty of Mt. Rainier. Crystal clear skies provided an amazing blue backdrop to the massive snowy white mountain. Green trees, gray rock, waterfalls, snow, moss, purple, red and white wildflowers all lit our way. It was obvious that conditions change quickly at Mt. Rainier.
After having a snack on a large rock in the snow, our group split up. With such outstanding weather, I opted to continue up the trail. Tom Brown joined me. Once I found a rock chair (armrests included) I stopped. Tom continued on his birthday journey (Happy Birthday Tom Brown). Surprisingly, the rock chair was incredibly comfortable. To my left, Mt. Adams, straight ahead, Mt. St. Helen, and to my right, Mt. Rainier. The three formed a triangle. I sat admiring the sights, did some writing and then I meditated. Climbers in full gear, tourists in a hurry, volunteers maintaining order; they all passed my throne. What a blessed day! Snow in mid-July amazed me, but I guess nature knows what it is doing.
Along the trail, snow bridges were present. Water runs under the snow which creates a dangerous environment. Fortunately, crews maintain and mark the trails. Their toughest job is keeping people off the meadows and stomping the wildflowers. Human’s desire to keep their feet dry encourage them avoid melting snow, destroying the wildlife. Shortcuts are another favorite past time of the human race. Yet another assault on natural terrain.
People were sledding on the snow with red chair cushions and black plastic bags. One girl was inside a black garbage bag. Spinning round and round, she went flying down the hill. Another woman went face first. She had quite a ride.
Tom Brown made it to the top of Paradise Point and back. I was grateful that I did not have the last video of him alive. At cocktail hour, he shared a video of himself sliding down the glacier on his backside. #65 ~ still a boy at heart.
My day ended on the back porch of Paradise Inn writing and gazing at the sights. Tatoosh Mountain Range is a gorgeous view. A family of deer rested in the trees just below the porch. A swallow nest sat above with chicks begging for food. The mama swallow was hard at work as tourist’s camera shutters worked over time to capture nature at it best. A Rainier beer and I was golden. What a HAPPY day! I am grateful for the wilderness. Be well… Nancy T.
“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
~ President Johnson upon signing the Wilderness Act