Mt. Rainier

Mt Rainier was the fourth National Park, established in 1899.  It is the most recognizable feature of Washington.  It can be seen from most of Washington.

Carbon River

On the west end of the park is the Carbon River trail.  This used to be a road, but was washed out, fixed, washed out again, fixed again, and washed out again.  The ranger said the road has washed out so many times the park has abandoned attempts to fix it.  It is now just a hiking and biking trail.   All the park facilities past the washout are abandoned as well.  It served as a reminder as to just how rough the winters are and how quickly things can change.

The road passes through old growth forest where Marbled Murrelets nest.  Murrelets are pelagic birds meaning they spend their time in open ocean.  They only come to land to nest.  Specifically, they only nest in old growth trees because they are the only ones with branches wide enough to support their poor landing abilities.   There are several trails that lead off what used to be the main road and is now the main trail.

West Boundary Trail Falls
The Nature Trail is closed.  Why?  This was just one of 10 blowdowns.   All of which destroyed parts of the trail….unless wearing muck boots.
At the end of the Old Mine Trail is an old mine.  A few feet in, it is boarded up.  The Washington Mining Company was looking for copper, silver, and gold in 1899.  They found a whole lot of nothing. But at least the build a great habitat for bats and shelter-seeking animals.
A short hike up to Green Lake.  At five in the morning it was peaceful and only the wrens and thrushes kept me company.  These are two of the most lyrical birds in the area and are quite distinctive have listen (Swainson Thrush).
Chenuis Falls was beautiful, the campsites nearby were all but destroyed with no plan to fix them up.  

The first major campground was Ipsut.  Before 2006, cars and RVs would pull up and car camp. Due tot he washout,  vehicles can’t make to this campground. All the parking areas were overgrown and the trail to that point was nice and wide.  This is an access point to the Wunderland Trail (The Wunderland trail is 95 miles and goes around the circumference of Mt. Rainier).  Also nearby is Carbon Glacier.   At 3500 feet elevation, Carbon Glacier is the lowest elevation glacier in the contiguous 48 states.  Because so many rocks and dirt are on top of the melt zone, the glacier melts very slowly.  In fact, is also the longest, thickest, and has the most volume of any glacier outside of Alaska.  Of all the glaciers on Rainier, it has retreated the least.  It made me wonder about efforts around the world to save glaciers and right here nature is saving its own glacier.

Carbon Glacier.  
The trail to Carbon Glacier was washed out, consequently, we were redirected across this half mile wash.  The rocks were loose and the river crossing here were quite sketchy.

Sunrise

On the East side of the park the Sunrise area allows for alpine hiking trails with amazing views of Rainier.  Ironically it’s about a two hour drive from Carbon river, but only about 18 miles to Carbon Glacier.

A view from frozen lake.   Although hard to capture with a camera, there are many layers of depth.  Down, trail, down, meadow, down, forest, and down again. From Rainer Mt Hood to the south was visible and Mt Baker along the Canadian border was visible.
Mt. Rainier from Bourroughs Mountain Trail.  From Burroughs mountain frying pan glacier and the intermediate glacier can also be seen. 
Emmons Glacier.  Like Carbon Glacier, the terminus and melt zone is covered with rock
At 6000 feet of elevation, the trees become smaller and in some cases more colorful. 
The Mountain Goats are listed as Critically endangered in Washington.  They were introduced in Olympic National Park, and the NPS has spent a great deal of money and time relocating them to the North Cascades.  
Mt. Rainier from Sunset Camp  

The air is clear and there is such a rich mix of contrasting greens, blues, and whites.

Even in July, snow covered the trail.  Sharleen traverses a trail with a 300 foot slide.  I was so proud of her overcoming her fear. 

Aside from Mountain Goats, chipmunks dominate the wildlife scene. Baby chipmunks were out in force and one even engaged Kylie in a staring contest.

Kylie v Chipmunk staring contest. It lasted about 2 minutes. Kylie came out on top.  The chipmunk is in the lower left.

One comment

  1. Dearest LWC…could only get the photo of the. Mountain goat. The rest didn’t come thru, only the tiny blue square. What can I do to view them?xoxox Mom

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