WA- Mt. Rainier (2016)
Mt. Rainier is “the mountain” for the residents of Seattle. It is 100 miles south east of Seattle Airport. It has an area of 240,000 acres (370 sq.miles). About 1-2 million people visit this park each year. It is a National Park. Mt. Rainier is the highest peak in the state of Washington and Cascade mountain range. It is majestic with 2.7 mile high peak(14,410 ft). It is an active volcano as evidenced by steam coming at the top while snow is covered all the time. We drove from Seattle (500′ elevation ) to Paradise visitor center (5400 ft elevation) in a van. Mt. Rainier is a testing ground (or mountain) for American climbers venturing to conquer Mt.Everest (double the height) due to its height and harsh weather conditions. One can circle around the mountain 93 miles on a trail called “wonderland” and get a complete view.The rain fall amount is 60-120 inches per year. Average snow fall at Paradise visitor center area is 54 ft and the range is 30-100 ft! Rainier has 26 glaciers, traversing slowly (29 inches per day). Large snow fall and slow melting results in the build up of glacier. Carbon glacier is 700 ft deep. Six rivers namely Nisqually, Carbon etc. originate from these glaciers. Winter is always there for the top of the mountain and for seven months to the regions below. Several species of trees (sub alpine fir, Douglas fir, western hemlock and western cedar), birds, animals (marmot, black tailed deer, elk, black bears) inhabit the park. The park buildings and access points were designed in rustic style to blend with the surroundings and it is a designated National Historic Landmark District. I visited Narada Falls (Narada, a Sanskrit-Hindi word for pure, or Sage Narada who travels with ease in Hindu mythology), Paradise Visitor Center and Reflection Lake. The weather was foggy and so we didn’t get great views of the mountain. But a ranger said the fog worked to our advantage. If we had good visibility, we wouldn’t have paid any attention to the surroundings because the mountain grabs all attention shamelessly! We learnt that July to early August is the best time to visit the mountain.