It was late-May and we were in the SeaTac area. With Winter behind us and a good part of Spring too, it seemed like a fairly good time to squeeze in a drive to Mt. Rainier.
So we drove South for a bit and left I-5S to drive into Spanaway Loop Road and then onto WA 7 (S). This was the route to the southwest entrance of Mt. Rainier National Park and we knew we were on another scenic drive.
It is not for nothing that Washington is called the Evergreen State. This state in the Pacific Northwest gets rain for more than half the year and that helps keep it as verdant as it can be. Nurturing vast areas of protected forests and being one of the addresses of the Cascade Mountain Range, Washington is a refreshingly beautiful state.
Being on the National Park Highway we passed miles and miles of land forested in evergreen trees and patches of wild flowers. We drove alongside the Nisqually River and kept spotting it beside the highway we were on, only we were going in opposite directions.
|The Nisqually River flowing away from Mt. Rainier.
This glacial river flows west and empties itself into Puget Sound near Seattle.
As we drove eastward we met with some light showers, which seemed to have made the Evergreen state, ‘greener.’ At one point we also got a glimpse of the serene and absolutely lovely Alder Lake which reserves some of Nisqually’s water.
Had it been a clear day, we might have seen Mt. Rainier from here.
As we drove into Mt. Rainier National Park, we got to what might have been a path of some kind of massive flow. Considering we were nearing a volcano and the fact that there were no trees on that rocky patch, it is natural to think that this was one of the routes that Mt. Rainier’s lava took. But no, that was not really the story. An information board we stopped at moments later, told me that glacial rivers are known to deposit sediment on the riverbed, building obstructions, so the water is often forced to curve and ‘braid’ over its path and form new channels.
|As such this must be the handiwork of the water that flows off the Nisqually glacier on Mt. Rainier.|
As we drove further towards Paradise, an area in the southern part of Mt. Rainier, we worked our way along mountainous terrain and spotted some water falling off high cliffs. Higher up there was fog. And because of that, we hadn’t spotted the 14,410 ft. tall mountain that is said to be visible for hundreds of miles away from where it stands. However I was pretty sure we’d get to see it as we neared it.
The route took us past more scenic beauty. All the while it had been raining for a bit and pausing, and the pattern seemed to go on and on. I was optimistic that I would be able to take back some sights of the largest-volcanic-mountain-of-the-Cascade Range, during one of those breaks the rain seemed to be taking every now and then.
Further up the road we encountered Christine Falls. A part of the waterfall flowed down the side of the road on what seemed like a natural staircase. The Fall then had another fall, this part over a bigger drop below the level of the bridge on the road. When we got to Christine Falls’ viewpoint, there was a respite from the showers so I got to take some pictures of this cascade.
After more rain and a few more miles on the road to Paradise, there was the Narada Falls that was clearly fresh glacial melt rushing down a path of lava rocks.
Here are a few pictures from the upper Narada Falls and smaller falls near it:
As we went closer to Mt. Rainier, we saw there was snow on either sides of the road and finally got to the Henry M Jackson Memorial Visitor Center that was sure to show us that sight – the mountain that was made of layers and layers of lava. But alas! all we could see was a thick white pall of fog concealing that structure which was sure to have made my jaws drop.
And the rest of the way to the mountain was closed due to snow and the rough weather. 😐
|The Paradise area is said to receive over a 100 inches of snow every year.|
Although the drive culminated in disappointment, that was indeed a scenic drive toward the heart of the Evergreen State. As for Mt. Rainier, I’ll have to go see it another day.
[If I disappointed you by not being able to show you Mt. Rainier, let me link you to pictures of the mountain from Henry M Jackson Memorial Visitor Center, here- Mt. Rainier from Paradise.]
If you are interested in Volcanoes,
& Coming soon — Mt. St. Helens 😉