Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bucket List #11 | Mount Rainier National Park

Ok, I'll just say it:
You know how sometimes, you have something pictured in your head, and it's amazing, and then you get there and it's just not quite what you thought it would be? This was not one of those times. Mount Rainier National Park did not disappoint. It was definitely one of my favorite things we've done here in Seattle. It looks like every beautiful postcard you've ever seen - and then some.
This was a fairly spontaneous trip - we booked our campsite Monday and left on Thursday morning. We kept going back and forth about whether we were going to go. I was worried about the weather in September, and we weren't sure we should spend the money right now. But at the end of the day, we decided that we have never once regretted going on a trip. Besides, Landon is (hopefully - knock on wood) about halfway done with his PhD program, and we still have a lot of things we'd like to see here in the PNW! So off we went.
We were blessed with INCREDIBLE weather. They typically say that in Seattle, you get gorgeous days between the 4th of July and Labor Day. Aside from that, it's pretty much gloomy and rainy all the time. It was a risk, going the second week in September, but it was in the 70s and just beautiful the whole time. Good thing, too, because we were camping with a 3-month-old baby!
My Geologist husband was basically in heaven...
The park is divided up into 5 main areas - Paradise, Longmire, Ohanapecosh, Sunrise, and Carbon River. We managed to hit 4 of these in one trip. We drove the long way around, to the Paradise entrance - this is the "Old Faithful" of Mount Rainier - the most touristy place of the park. There's a reason for this:
It is breathtakingly beautiful. You can drive right up onto the side of the mountain and just enjoy. We ate lunch here the first day, and hiked up a ways. We could have spent our whole trip here, really, but we had more to see!

The next day we spent mostly at Longmire - you would't really need a whole day here, but we let Walt do a hike all on his own this day, and it took awhile. :)
PS, best $4 I have ever spent:
He love to look at everything through his binoculars. I have a feeling these will accompany us on many more adventures!
Our campsite was outside the park (because when you're spontaneous you don't get premium accommodations!) This was hands down Walt's favorite park about our trip. He could have done without all of the walking and the picture-taking, but the CAMPING - that he loved. In fact, the first day after our lunch and hike, Walt announced to the whole visitor's center: "Goodbye! We're going CAMPING!"
For the record, Walt thinks roasting a perfectly good marshmallow is just nuts.
Zuzu was wrapped up in a long-sleeved onesie, regular PJs, fleece PJs, a hat, and sleepsack, and two blankets at night. Paranoid mother much? She did great.

At Ohanapecosh, we hit up "The Grove of the Patriarchs," which is an easy trail that looks like this:
Just incredibly beautiful old-growth forest (some of the oldest trees in the US!)
Super fun. :)

Last but not least, we drove out the Sunrise exit, where we were treating to sweeping views of the mountain, and a piece of one of the actual glaciers!
...And there's always a chance that I might make my family haul matching outfits up the mountain so we can take a photo...
But only a crazy person would do that.
We loved Mt. Rainier! I wish I could say I know we'll be back, but truthfully, even camping takes a chunk of our budget, and we still have so many places to see - I hope that we'll get another chance, but I'm so happy we went now, just in case. :)


Catherine said...

Holy cow, that is beautiful! when we come to visit you in WA (which is WAY beyond our budgetary means, but I can dream, right?!) we must take a trip there. Also, I think hauling matching outfits up the mountain was brilliant! Those family photos are to die for :)

Kenna Weirich said...

So beautiful! PS. Way to be awesome and take a baby camping!