September 15, 2004

Mt Rainier National Park

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:35 pm by diandy2004

We could see her from Seattle. We could see her from Victoria. We could see her from most of the Olympic peninsula. But she hid herself under blankets of clouds when we got up alongside her and reached Mt. Rainier National Park. She’d periodically play peek-a-boo and show a little of herself through holes in the clouds, but mostly the mountain stayed hidden. For three solid days we saw mostly clouds, and the forecast wasn’t going to get any better. So much for the mountain views and hiking to Camp Muir, the 10,000 foot high base camp for climbers continuing to the summit. We decided that it just wasn’t our time to experience Mt. Rainier.

Our timing was great regarding the crowds (the park empties out after Labor Day), but poor regarding the weather gods. We did have some nice hikes through the inland rainforest, and this time it was raining. We also got to see great waterfalls – some were gentle trickles over moss-covered rocks, some were long narrow falls falling hundreds of feet, some were powerful falls cascading over rocks. We took a short hike to the foot bridge at Cougar Rock.  We had heard that the creek was flooded, and we just wanted to check it out.  The water was flowing over the bridge.  The poor rangers were desperately trying to rebuild a bridge nearby so that hikers wouldn’t get trapped on the other side.  We also enjoyed the effects the clouds themselves created – swirling up from the valleys below, racing across the sky in the game of peek-a-boo with the mountain (now you see her, now you don’t), and clouds laying on the road in front of you, creating a very mystical place.

peek-a-boo!

peek-a-boo!

Narada Falls

Narada Falls

Christine Falls

Christine Falls

This was one destination where we were very happy to have waterproof pants – and not just our waterproof coats.  Any hikes had us in our full gear for protection from the elements.

One morning we toured Spirits of Iron. Dan Klennert, the artist, displays his sculptures around his property for people to come and enjoy. He asks for donations to help continue his dream, but he will sell his pieces if the price is right. This was worth the detour to drive back into Elbe. We spent about 45 minutes wandering around and speaking with Dan. He even took us into his workshop to show us the current projects he was working on. For someone self-trained in art and welding, his pieces were very detailed and well put-together. The textures he created intrigued me the most. We had fun just trying to identify the ‘parts’ he used to create his pieces. We found: large wrenches, saw blades, horseshoes, wire brush bristles, shovels, and even fishing line to name just a few. But he also creates pieces from driftwood, too. As he says, he doesn’t shape his pieces, he creates them from the shapes he finds. Most of his supplies are found in ravines in eastern Washington, so he is also helping to clean up America as well. If you find yourself in Elbe, do stop and spend time with his work. Slowing down and viewing from your car is not enough to appreciate his creations.

DanKlennert

Dan Klennert

Iron Horse by Dan Klennert

Iron Horse by Dan Klennert

Sea Horse by Dan Klennert

Sea Horse by Dan Klennert

We stayed on both sides of Mt. Rainier. Near Nisqually we stayed at a great little campground (Mounthaven Cabins and RV Resort) which was just a half-mile from the park entrance. The owners were so friendly and eager to please and the setting was wooded and homey.

Mounthaven Resort

Mounthaven Resort

On the east side we spent one night in the Ohanapecosh Campground within the park. Our site was right on the river and beautiful as well. We could imagine ourselves enjoying a campfire and the view…but we chose to stay warm and dry inside instead. We’d highly recommend both of these campgrounds.  The east side is supposed to be in the rain shadow of Mt Rainier, but we found it almost as rainy as the west side.

We did a six-mile hike on the Silver Falls Trail and through the Grove of Patriarchs.  More big trees and forest mushrooms, and I was able to check off more birds on my birding list.  That always makes me happy.  Most times I see a new bird but can’t absolutely identify it!

Grove of the Patriarchs

Grove of the Patriarchs

The cloud-shrouded park was beautiful in its own way, but we started to crave some sunshine since we couldn’t do the bigger hikes (like Skyline Trail or Camp Muir). We’ll just have to come back to tackle Rainier another time. So, off we go to Yakima and Washington’s sunny wine country…