Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Day 4: Fogs of Rainier

Emerging early from our tent, we loaded up, dumped some trash, and headed off to Rainier. As was usual of the trip, we had to backtrack a bit to get on the right track to Rainier. We chose some backroads which turned out to be a great choice. We enjoyed the sights of small Washington towns and beautiful trees in Lewis and Clark State Park.

Arriving at a crossroads in Morton, WA, we had a decision to make. There were two ways to approach Rainier, either from the south or the west. We stopped at an info booth to get suggestion, and the only suggestion we got from the old lady there was to abondon our journey all together and head back down towards the other side of Mt St Helens and go camping out there. I'm not sure she understood our desire to just see the mountain. But she was a nice old lady and we didn't feel it was appropriate to completely reject her plan. So we politely nodded and headed off to the south side of the mountain towards the ranger station.

The ranger at the station wouldn't let us in. She was on lunch break, and since we didn't have to time to wait for her to finish her sandwich, she slipped us a map out the door. We ultimately decided to head back to Morton and go the other way around, since that was the quickest way to get to the highest campground in the park: Cougar Rock.

Assured that they had plenty of sites available, we started the approach to the mountain. We'd had a craving for pizza for the last 2 days, and about 2 miles from the park entrance, we found a small pizza shop and decided to stop. I would say that we wasted a good hour to and hour and a half, but the pizza was so good it was definitely not a waste...but time was running short.

At this point we had realized that we had not even seen the mountain itself. The day had presented itself and overcast, and it didn't seem to be letting up. As we drove on into the National Park (which we got in free to, btw, b/c I have a national parks season pass!!) it only got foggier and foggier.

Finding the campsite, we were allowed to drive around to find the one of our choice. We located a site nestled in the corner in the woods. It was perfect. Secluded, shaded with plently of bathrooms, i.e. woods, nearby.

All setup, we headed up the mountain to a lodge called Paradise Inn. Apparently its an extremely popular place, even though I'd never heard of it. They are in the process of building a completely new one, and in the meantime the old one is closed. Along the way we stopped at every viewpoint we could find, all of which were clouded by the fog. However, we did get to see some amazing waterfalls.

Paradise Inn shrouded in fog

As far as hiking and trying to see the peak, we decided to make that push the next morning. So instead, we chose a short mile hike that took us through some meadows of wildflowers. It was really more than we ever expected. Everytime we turned the corner, it was even more amazing. It had a well cultivated and manicured look, even though it was completely wild. Plus the fog accentuated everything. We nicknamed it "Candyland," because none of it seemed real. We passed by a couple of "viewpoints", and it was entertaining to make up what we were supposed to be seeing, since all we saw was a shroud of white.


My favorite picture of Dearing

Insert your own caption here. We have no idea of what we're supposed to be seeing.


I checked out the next day's weather forecast, hoping that we'd get a clear day so we could at least SEE Rainier before leaving, and it said partly cloudy all day. It didnt bode well. But we had the majority of the morning the next day to do something, we we planned a nice 4 hr stroll up the mountain and see what happened. We crawled in the tent, burrowed into our sleeping bags since it was freezing that night, and fell asleep to visions of the peak of Rainier, which we prayed we'd be able to see the next day.

Next Up: Push for the Peak and Goonies!!!!


JonGrubbs said...

Hey you know how you mentioned in the last post how you and Deering slept head to toe in the tent? It doesn't matter man; your private bits are in the same place!

PS. You take incredible photos.
PPS. Can we use your National Park pass when we go to Yosemite? Or does it just cover you?

laura g said...

day 5, day 5! what happens on day 5?!?!

The Juice said...

jon, i know i already told you but i'm telling you again. it works on the whole car (not sure its supposed to, but it does) and laura...chill. :)

laura g said...

so i was looking again this morning, and i really love the candyland photo. and, of course, dearing's acrobatics.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy, I really love your photography too, and I'm jealous of your writing. Your pictures are better than some of the photography students I critique. And yes, its still true even if I am prejudiced.
And I'm with Laura, bring on Day 5!!!!!