Walking in the Woods

Miles driven today: 32 Miles driven total: 242

Today we explored another aspect of Mt. Rainier National Park: the western side and the wooded slopes and waterfalls. It was really hot today – 25C – and it was great to be in the shady woods rather than on the more exposed ridges. We started out about 845.

We first stopped at Narada Falls, about 5 miles to the west of Paradise. Beautiful falls accessed down a shortish trail and then a very steep descent. It gave me a good workout coming back up! Talk about puffing….. I’m sure this trip will do me good. Well… kill or cure!!!!

Further west, we stopped at a fantastic viewpoint which gave us a wonderful view of Mt. Rainier and the glaciers. Look, we may as well get it straight that there is no escaping views of Mt. Rainier here….. It’s the star of the show! There are 19 glaciers on the mountain, and we had a great view of the Nisqually one, which is one of the largest. You could clearly see the debris trail. There are so many trees on the lower slopes, thousands and thousands as far as you can see. So green….

We had a picnic lunch in a little grove of trees at Longmire, the first village established in the park. There is another small lodge there, cabins, a tiny museum and a store. It was interesting to see photos of the first people to summit Mt. Rainier back in the late 1800s. Even a woman. They were climbing in what looked like very unsuitable clothes to the modern eye.

Our first proper trail was through a section of old forest which surrounded a water meadow. It was absolutely lovely. Very very natural, very green. Huge pines which let in a beautiful light, dappling down on us. There were all sorts of odd, plants in there, with great big leaves and growths of horse tail, much bigger than I’ve seen in the UK. Quite a few fallen trees which had been left to rot away and were very picturesque.. There were little streams, a spring and old abandoned mineral baths. Apparently in Victorian times people came here to drink and bathe in the sulphorous water. There wasn’t a smell today though. Most enjoyable. We’d covered ourselves in insect repellant this morning but they weren’t anything like as bad as the ones over near Reflection lakes yesterday.

Our second longer hike was through more woodland near Longmire, not quite as picturesque as the Trail of the Shadows woodland. It was quiet though. We hardly saw another soul. We walked slightly uphill to the site of a long washed out bridge over a river, established by one of the park’s early explorers.

Drove back to Paradise about 3pm and the parking lot was an absolute zoo – so many people. It was lucky there is a special section for hotel guests. We were too tired to walk much further from the lower car parks. The flowers in the meadows are really blooming now, it must ben these sunny days. Tomorrow is going to be even hotter – 35C.

Such a nice day and we have enjoyed this national park so much. The mountain is ever present, even in the woods, it will suddenly appear between the trees. And the roads are so winding and switchblading, that one minute you are facing it, then you turn a corner and it’s in front of you again. Quite discombobulating!

Tonight we had dinner in the dining room again.

Tomorrow we move on to spend the day viewing Mt. St. Helen’s and then heading north west to the Olympia peninsular and the National Park there.