June was a sucky horrible wet start to summer. But true to form, summer started in July—a day early this year, the weather turned sunny on the 4th of July.
On the 5th of July, we packed up the car and headed out for our first camping trip of the summer, to Mt. Rainier. It’s a National Park right in our backyard…if it takes four hours to drive to our backyard. The drive down was yechh, but once we got there…oh so pretty. It was still a little early for the famous fields of wildflowers up at Paradise, but the skies were a perfect blue with minimal clouds—only a few here and there would block our view of the tip top of Mt. Rainier.
After getting settled in our camp, on Day 2, we started at Longmire, one of the first settlements in the Mt. Rainier area, named after the Longmire family. They had started up a spa and mineral springs hotel in the area—popular for a while, but now the “mineral springs” are much more mineral than spring.
From Longmire, we took a hike up to Rampart Ridge. It’s about a 4.5 mile hike starting with a steep incline, and the boys did great (Sean and I held our own, too). The views of Mt. Rainier were fantastic. We found a beautiful tree for our tree pose (lots of opportunities for tree pose on this vacation…).
And the mossy carpets weren’t near as soft as they looked. I had to touch.
On Day 3, we took a drive up to Paradise. Best weather on this day—the clouds were giving Mt. Rainier a bit of a toupee, but other than that, it was perfect.
This waterfall was Narada Falls. LOTS of water coming over the falls, and we were getting sprayed generously with mist while another tourist tried to get the “perfect picture” for us.
Up at Paradise, it was pretty, but there was too much snow to see the “most luxuriant and most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens” that John Muir had ever seen. We probably saw a lot more tourists than he saw, though.
From Paradise, we continued on to the far side of the national park to see the Grove of the Patriarchs. It’s a short little loop trail with cedar and Douglas Fir trees over 1,000 years old. And it had a cool bridge.
On the last and final day, Sean took the kids down to explore the river by our campground while I stayed with Freckle. They saw where the river with silty run-off from a glacier met up with the clear run-off from recent (i.e. this winter’s) snowfalls. It was neat to see the colors blending.
A little more yoga and some rock balancing…
…and one last effort to prop up Mt. Rainier, and we were headed back home.