I had one day to spend in Mount Rainier National Park and it was less than perfect weather-wise. I guess that’s the risk you take when visiting in October! However the magnitude of amazing that emanates from this natural place made it unforgettable, nonetheless – and I know there will be a Part II for this post in the future. Only the Longmire and Paradise sections of the park were open, so my hopes for driving to the highest point possible in the park located in the Sunrise section was squashed. No big deal on that because the summit was and most of surrounding views were obscured. We made our way to the Paradise visitor’s center, checked in with the park ranger, and got a map. From the same parking lot we hopped onto a hike I was really excited about, the Skyline Trail. If you only have one major hike like I did, this one is supremely satisfying. If you are interested in taking this 5.5 mile loop trail gaining 1,700 ft in elevation, climb the stairs and begin.
Your initial ascent climbs fast and hard, but it calms down a bit after about a half mile and views like this,
could really be what is taking your breath away. The weather was getting progressively worse, but it was also moving very quickly. What once was a white out would be exposed for a few moments for spectacle.
After we trekked up a certain amount of elevation we reached the snowline and a bit of precipitation was still falling.
I couldn’t get the tune out of my head, ‘vacation all I ever wanted!’ as the chilling wind was licking my face. There came a point where we needed to make a stream crossing beside a waterfall which was raging, my knees were quivering.
By the time we made it up to Panoramic view we could barely see five feet in front of us, so there are no pictures for the highest points of elevation. What goes up must come down. Eventually we descended enough to feel our faces again and see the beautiful world around us. Views like this,
made us shrug off the insanity that occurred minutes before. There were so many waterfalls along the trails (and roadsides, but we’ll talk about that in a few minutes), but Myrtle Falls was one of the most popular and stunning. You will catch it along the Skyline Trail, but if you don’t feel like making the whole hike you can access the falls by taking a much quicker trail (.4 one way) and it is still epically gorgeous scenery!
So if you’re at the falls, you’re close to the parking lot, and the extraordinary loop is almost complete. The weather wasn’t getting any better so we weren’t going to commit to any longer trails, we decided to hit the road!
The park road, of course, because these are some of the most scenic drives in the world with plenty of overlooks,
and little spur trails to interesting odds and ends.We saw a lot of birds hanging out, probably looking for a hand out, at the overlooks. The grey jays (below, left) were so aggressive it was incredible. They all swarmed our car and even landed on the antenna! The bird on the right is a stellers jay and one of my favorite west coast staples. So you can see that hiking isn’t even a necessity to enjoy this park and encounter awe-inspiring nature. All you need to do is go and experience!