Mount Rainier National Park

2 11 2012

Mount Rainier from a meadow above Sunrise

Summer of 2012 featured a record 80+ days where it only rained one hour during that time! With the end in sight, and the inevitable rain switch about to be turned on, my friend Tully and I headed to Mount Rainier National Park for a last campout!

It was beautiful weather. There were wildfires nearby, and before we arrived, smoke obscured views of 14,410 ft Mount Rainier.

For us, the wind blew the smoke away. We were treated to crystal clear views.

We camped at the White River Campground. It’s on the eastern side of the park, higher elevation.

 

We figured we’d have the park to ourselves, since it was after Labor Day. But that was not the case and the campground had lots of guests in its not-so-spacious campsites. This was because the wildfires closed many nearby outdoor destinations, sending people here.

Sausages brown ‘n serve!

We planned to hike from the Sunrise area. This is a higher elevation staging area on the eastern side. It has a lot of trails. Some of the trails follow ridges with spectacular views in several directions! I could see Mount Adams to the south, and all the way to Mount Baker north. Looking all around I watch to see signs of big fauna – bear, elk, the elusive mountain goat – but see none. We catch sight of gray jays and ravens, as well as various unidentified raptors.

For dinner, we did a stir fry – which consisted of green pepper, carrot, nuts, pineapple, chicken, onion, broccolli, and baby carrots. Scrumptious! Another night we did a skewer meal over rice. Breakfast was pretty traditional – eggs, toast done on the grill, and this time instead of bacon – sausage patties. Sausage patties are a lot easier to clean up than bacon, because they don’t produce much grease! I’ll be cooking more of them in the future!

 

We also spent some time hiking the area around the Grove of the Patriarchs. It is in the Ohanapecosh area. While the grove’s hike is only 1.3 miles, it’s packed with incredible flora. 1,000 year old Western cedars, Western hemlock and old-growth Douglas fir! Quite a few of them! They’re simply huge compared those typically seen around the Northwest.

The Grove is located on an island in the Ohanapecosh River. It’s a place you can feel the history. These trees were already hundreds of years old when America became a country. They were 200 years old when Columbus landed in the New World!

You walk across a suspension bridge to get there – one at a time.

 

1,000 year old cedar in the Grove of Patriarchs

By far the best time for experiencing the outdoors in the American Northwest is September – after Labor Day.

After Labor Day, the weather is still dry and warm – summer. But kids are in school and parents home. Hiking trails and camping are generally a lot less busy!

So, if you can, make plans to head into the outdoors in September!

 


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