Monday, August 25, 2014

Beauty in Our Own Backyard

When you think of Washington State, what main mountain do you think of? While Mt. St. Helen's might have crossed some of your minds, the answer I was looking for is actually Mount Rainier. Some fun facts about Mount Rainier:

  • It is actually an active volcano (although it's last eruption was in the 1800's) and is the highest peak of all the volcanic mountains that make up the Cascade Range. 
  • Mount Rainier has the most glaciers out of any other mountain in the United States with 26 major glaciers. And if the volcano did erupt soon, not only would we be in big trouble with the ash and lava and such, but imagine what thirty-five square miles of melting glaciers would do.
  • Mount Rainier is Washington's highest mountain, and is the 21st most prominent mountain in the world and THE most prominent in the contiguous United States.
  • When you fly into the Seattle airport, if it's not too cloudy, the spectacular view of Mount Rainier rises up to meet you as you descend. 
  • It is proudly displayed on most of the Washington license plates you see zooming around, or you can just look up and see the mountain in the distance, even though it is about a hour and a half drive away from our house.
  • Over two million people come to visit the national park per year with lots of camping, hiking, parks, and trails to capitalize on.
  • Out of the two million people that travel to visit Mount Rainier, and though my parents have lived an hour and a half away for over ten years, we had NEVER been to Mount Rainier. Not once.
That is...until a couple weeks ago. We left the kids with Grandma Busby (hooray! best kind of hiking!) and the adults -minus Brigham who had to return to work- went to enjoy some hikes and check out the popular park.

We pulled off the road to check out a small view of Mount Rainier. Another mountain was blocking the complete view. It's the white cap in the distance.
Our first hike was Grove of the Patriarchs and it led us through the beautiful forest to see some big trees. Though, we just got back from the Redwoods so the size wasn't as impressive as it should have been due to our desensitization to large trees.

We had to cross on a shaky, cable bridge at point. A sign greeted us at the start of the bridge recommending only one person cross at a time. We politely waited while another family heeded the sign and took turns crossing the river. Then we all jumped on the bridge together with Ryan purposefully swaying it from side to side and jumping up and down, creating a jumble of balance and steps to get across. We're kind of rebels like that, my family. Of course, sweet Katrina was concerned about following the rules but was met with "Do you really think those metal cables would break?" We're also sensitive folk. But we have a good time :)

The trees really were pretty giant - I was surprised at how big they were in this mountain range, and it was a nice short hike to check it out. We joked how we spent eight hours driving to get to the Redwoods, when we could have just taken short drive to our own Mount Rainier.

The next hike was called The Silver Falls Loop, and this is where we really saw some amazing sights. 

We traveled alongside the river as it carved its way down the mountain, over water falls and giant rocks. The water was a beautiful crystal blue/green color that mesmerized me.

We even got to see a spotted deer jumping from rock to rock to cross a fast-flowing section of the falls. I held my breath as it made a longer jump, nervous for it to fall into the water and get carried away, but of course, it knew what it was doing and landed safely on the other side. Watching that was the favorite part of my day; I felt like I was in some nature movie, exploring the wonders of the earth. I know it's cheesy, but I LOVED it. 

We soon abandoned the trail for a bit and made our way climbing along the rocks that line the falls.

The water comes from glacier melt-off, which is why it's so clear and SO cold.

Although the picture makes it hard to judge the depth, it is actually really deep here - and yet you can see all the way to the bottom because the water is so clear.

I kept taking picture after picture because the beauty was so picture-perfect; I couldn't get over it.

I kept imagining myself in some explorer movie, embracing untamed I happily continued on a well-maintained trail, hahaha :) My actual sense of adventure is pretty tame, but I sure can conjure some great stories.

While my dad finished the loop and walked back to the van, we continued on another trail that passed through some small natural hot springs that were pretty neat. No pictures due to the awkwardness of a lady looking suspiciously guilty, scooping water and mud up into a jug and giving us a wary gaze. We asked her what she was doing, but I don't think she spoke English. The water was steaming in the air and we only spent a couple minutes exploring.

My dad picked us up at the end of the trail and we checked out the visitor's center, ate lunch at an empty campsite picnic table pretending we were camping, and then headed home.

Honestly, these were some of my favorite hikes I've ever done! I'd say our first visit to Mount Rainier was a smashing success. We'll have to plan some more trips to go back to visit the beauty in our own backyard.


  1. Oh my goodness! It is beautiful there!! Someday if we ever can vist you guys, we have to go there!

  2. oh my gosh that is so beautiful! crazy how theyve lived so close but never visited- i guess i do that too.we take for granted our beautiful surroundings. i bet the kids would love to go hiking there too. seriously, all that green and water! i love it!