By Marianne Lincoln
The last day of the Independence Day weekend and I, like many others, took a drive up the hill to Mount Rainier National Park. In my case, I was inspired by a friend who is 83 and hadn’t been there since the Nisqually Glacier was near the bridge over the river. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it was probably the 1940’s since she was there. There’s been a couple miles of glacier melt since then.
The day was beautiful. A few little clouds swirled around the mountain and then disappeared. The snow at Paradise was still trying to melt and the wildflowers around its edges were already trying to bloom. The stairways were cascading waterfalls and the gutters ran like swift streams.
The old Paradise Inn appeared to be doing a fair amount of business, people were strolling in with suitcases in tow. Many others were just sitting in the great room eating ice cream cones and listening to the lovely piano music. The parking lot was full and the overflow spaces were well used. But by arriving in late afternoon, there were many open spaces available.
On the way up, there was a bald eagle circling over the Alder Dam lookout point on the Mountain Highway. Looking higher, a vulture was also checking out the site. As I drove on past the corner where the old man used to sell cut stone, an awful smell of death was in the air. Probably a deer, hit on the road died somewhere nearby. I have, unfortunately, seen and smelled such before. That would explain the eagle and vulture’s interest.
The swimming hole at Alder Lake was busy with swimmers and rafters on their plastic craft. The little berg of Elbe was busy with visitors and booths were set up selling trinkets, food and souvenirs for the train riders. From Longmire to Paradise, the pull outs for views and parking spaces for trails were loaded with cars. Even the West Road that was shortened due to large boulders hitting the roadway has many cars parked with hikers checking the scenery.
All in all, it was a great day to see Mount Rainier. The sky was blue, the waterfalls were rushing and the temperature was 73 at Longmire and 59 at Paradise. Summer season on the mountain is here!