A Noble Mountain

Trip Start May 09, 2009
1
48
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Trip End May 27, 2010


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Where I stayed
Ohanapecosh Campground

Flag of United States  , Washington
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the Noblest." -- John Muir

Noble, majestic and magical describe this amazing mountain.  Native Americans called the mountain Tahoma (or Takoma), meaning Mountain of the Gods.  Anyone who has seen it will agree. 

Mt. Rainer is a volcanic mountain formed 500,000 years ago, part of the Cascade Range.  It is 14,411 feet high.  Like Mt. St. Helens, it has the potential to erupt again at some unknown time in the future (but with ample warning, we hope!).  The huge quantities of precipitation (up to 126 inches/year) create a wonderland of glaciers (26 total), ancient forests of 100+ foot trees and, of course, streams and waterfalls. 

My first sighting of Mt. Rainier (Jim had previously seen it) was earlier in our trip when we were driving from Hoodsport to Redmond to the Sweeney's house.  As we traveled on the highway somewhere near Tacoma, all of a sudden, the mountain loomed large in the background.  It wasn’t a clear enough day to see the summit but I was amazed at how large it appeared that far away and how much of it was covered by glaciers.  So as we headed for the park, I was anxious to get a really good glimpse of it again.  As is typical here in the Pacific Northwest, the day we got to our campsite at the Ohanapecosh Campground was partly cloudy with no good views of the summit.

However, the weather gods smiled on us the next two days, with gorgeous sunny clear warm weather.  With not a cloud in the sky, we got breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier.  We took so many photos, that it will be hard to know which ones to attach to this entry.  With the weather warm and sunny, we were able to spend our two full days there hiking and taking in the sights. 

In addition to the area around Ohanapecosh, where ancient forests thrive, we were able to visit both the Sunrise area on the northeast side of the mountain and Paradise, directly south of the mountain to get different views.  We did some moderate hikes, including the Naches Peak trail that looped around Naches Peak and included part of the Pacific Crest Trail.  The last half of the hike provided absolutely picture-perfect views of Mt. Rainier.  Another trail we especially liked was the Nisqually Vista Trail at Paradise, an interpretative trail that provided close-up views of the Nisqually glacier.  We also enjoyed the trail to the Grove of the Patriarchs – an ancient forest of 1000-year old Douglas Firs and Red Cedars.  The grove is on an island surrounded by the Ohanapecosh River and was built on top of ash from a volcanic eruption 1000 years ago.  Some of the trees were 200+ feet tall.

Getting up early one morning, Jim was able to fit in a five-hour hike near our campground on the Laughingwater Creek Trail, 12 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 2700’.  Although there were no views of Mt. Rainier, Jim was glad to fit in some more strenuous hiking in preparation for a backpacking trip that he and our friend, Mike Hartley, are doing near Mt. Hood in a couple of weeks.

Words are inadequate to describe the beauty of both Mt. Rainier and the national park area, but hopefully, the photos attached will give you an idea and inspire you to visit.
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