Well, it’s been more than a month since I gave you a brief peek into our trip out to Washington to see our youngest son and his wife. While our day in Seattle was fun and gave me an opportunity to see many things I thought I’d only see on television, what I was really looking forward to on this trip was Mount Rainier. I was amazed by the view the kids had from a couple of their back bedrooms. Every time I had reason to be upstairs I’d duck into the middle room (it had the best view) to see if the mountain was out. Often the clouds, fog, or smog would make it so you couldn’t even tell there was a mountain out there. Other days, I’d see views like this one…
The second Sunday we were in Washington, July 1, we headed up to see the mountain more up close. A friend had recommended we go to Crystal Mountain as they have a gondola that goes up into the mountains. I’m not sure how crowded it would be if we had gone on a Sunday in middle of ski season since Crystal Mountain turned out to be a ski resort, but getting there early on a Sunday in July was perfect.
Unfortunately, the mountain was hiding for most of the time we were there. But it was still a beautiful view. There was actually still some snow on the ground, but we had checked the weather and dressed appropriately in layers of hoodies and jeans.
The gondola ride alone was worth every penny. Just to slowly float above the earth while climbing up was amazing. Then you step off the gondola to a viewing platform with the Cascade Mountains spread before you. As I said, it was very cloudy, but there was still the sense that the mountain was there towering over us all. And at one point, she did peak out a bit. There are trails and a restaurant at the top. We did grab a quick bite…well, the rest of them did. I wasn’t hungry. We didn’t go too far on the trails, but far enough to really enjoy the atmosphere and beauty of where we were.
Kirsten and I decided we wanted to go to another part of the mountain. Mostly because the gift shop at Crystal Mountain had amazing things, but not many that actually said Mount Rainier since we were, in fact, on Crystal Mountain. We we put our smart phones to use and found we weren’t too terribly far from Mt. Rainier National Park Sunrise Visitor Center. We hopped back in the car and were on our way. The views from the car just driving up the mountain were spectacular.
Once we got to the visitor center, we realized there was a lot to do there. We decided to hit the gift shop first and get that out of the way. (I got some amazing mugs there! I’m kind of a mug fanatic.) The visitor center had quite an extensive display that we wandered around for a bit after stowing away our purchases. Fortunately, there is also a picnic area so we trekked over to a table and had our pb&j and apples before going on another short hike.
It ended up a pretty clear and beautiful day for us. I was concerned after our morning of clouds at Crystal Mountain, but Mother Nature was my pal that afternoon. I can’t even put into words the majesty of that mountain and the beauty of all of the flora on the trails. I definitely want to go back and further explore the trails. We weren’t really prepared for any major hiking so we only did a short looping trail. I cannot even imagine the sights to see on the longer trails that go further into the wilderness.
One last note on the day. We didn’t really know what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go, just that the mountain was our destination. We realized after we got the the national park that it was actually opening day for the summer! I’m assuming that is because the trails are so dangerous when there’s snow melt. There were signs all over warning to be careful and that there was still shifting going on with ice and snow. So my advice would be to do a bit more homework than us. Although it turned out well for us, it could have been a long drive for nothing if our timing hadn’t been right.