Most of this post is going to be pictures with explanations. The pictures don't do it justice-you have to see the area in person to experience the grandeur of the scenery. We picked August because the weather was supposed to be the best-we experienced no rain. Also the wildflowers were to be at their peak at that time of the year-and it was true. I don't think I've ever seen so many wildflowers blooming at once. It was as if the earth was saying "we have to bloom now, the season is short, everything bloom now!" I could fill this blog with pictures of only wildflowers but I'll spare you. These I found most interesting.
Researching the area I came across this flower, the Western Pasqueflower-nicknamed the Hippy on a Stick! I wanted to find them and they were easy to find.
They present themselves in many different ways. These look so sedate!
These look so wild! I've never imagined a flower having personalities but this one-I can! I was fascinated with these flowers. So taken with them that I came up with a story line....
This is what they look like when first blooming-here they are "flower children"
They grow up to become "hippies"
And of course they live in communes!
Heather patches were everywhere
Elephanthead Lousewort. These were so interesting and I can see how they got their name!
There are so many different trails to hike we couldn't cover them in one trip. We spent 4 nights and 5 days at Cougar Rock Campground. From there it was a short drive to many things that we wanted to see in the southwest portion of Mt Rainier National Park.
The first day was a short hike since we just got there. We went to the Nisqually River, caught a nice view of Mt Rainier, then caught the Wonderland Trial to Carter Falls and Madcap Falls-a hike we could do from our campground. The rest of the hikes we had to drive to, they were short drives tho.
Mt Rainier from the Nisqually River, close to Cougar Rock Campground. The water has a milky appearance caused by fine sediments deposited by an active glacier at the river's source.
See I snuck in another flower picture!
We hiked the Skyline Loop Trail-a popular 5.5 mile trail, we went during midweek and started early in the morning so we missed the crowds. It was a 1700' elevation gain and gave us a beautiful view of Paradise Valley and the Tatoosh Range. If the day was clearer we would have seen Mt Rainier up close but as with many tall mountains like this they have their own weather systems and when we got to the top of the Loop, Mt Rainier was hiding behind clouds. But we did catch many views of it on the way up. And we could see Mt Adams and Mt St Helens. I was told on a very clear day you could see Mt Hood, although not on this day.
On our way up the Skyline Loop Trail
We got to hike over snow! Trekking poles came in handy.
One of the trails leading to Panorama Point.
View of the Tatoosh Range
Panoramic view of the Tatoosh Range and Mt Rainier
Found a snow tunnel on our way down from Panorama Point
One day we hiked the High Lakes Trail (starting at Reflection Lake) and discovered an awesome vista point at Faraway Rock, quite unexpected as my hiking information did not mention it at all. This was a nice trail and wasn't crowded at all, we only saw 3 groups of people. Great views of the Tatoosh Range, closer than the previous day's hike! Views of Reflection Lake and Louise Lake and a surprise visit from some Grey Jays. We also hiked to a couple of water falls, Christine Falls and Narada Falls.
Found this deer on the way up to Faraway Rock
Looking down from Faraway Rock to see Louise Lake
This Grey Jay flew in my face to get the food I was eating. Pushy fellow.
Another Grey Jay.
One of the ponds next to the cliff at Faraway Rock. Just the other side of those trees is a 1000' drop.
On the drive to our final hike we had to stop at Reflection Lake again to get a picture of Mt Rainier reflected in the Lake.
Mt Rainier in Reflection Lake
One of the many marmots in the area. This one kept calling, warning his friends that we were there.
One of the waterfalls coming off the Wilson Glacier. I also liked the "blue ice" to the right.
The Nisqually Glacier with the beginning of the Nisqually River.
One of the views from the Alta Vista Trail, many waterfalls in Paradise Valley
It was a great trip and I'd go again to explore more of the trails in the Paradise area and explore the other areas of the National Park.