Tuesday, July 24, 2018
The days have been sunny and hot here in northwest Seattle. The mostly blue skies show off Washington’s natural resources to good effect, truly enhancing the views. The temperatures have been reaching into the 90’s, but it’s 5-10 degrees cooler in the parks, much more pleasant. However, we find ourselves seeking shade after hiking for a while. The tall trees of Mount Rainier National Park were very much appreciated today.
We were greeted with stunning vistas as we drove to the visitor’s center at Paradise, and pulled over several times to “ooh” and “ahh” and to take photos, of course. The Nisqually River originates at Mount Rainier, fed by the Nisqually Glacier, one of 25 named glaciers on the mountain. Nisqually has retreated and advanced several times since its discover in the mid-1850’s. The current retreat started in 1985.
The Nisqually River bed is wide, although the width of the flow is a fraction of that right now. It’s easy to see how much the river spreads during floods because of the rocks that are deposited by the rushing waters.
We spent a little time at Longmire, location of the park’s first headquarters in 1899. The site has a small museum, a general store and lodge.
We did some hiking, and enjoyed the numerous wildflowers in bloom. Some of these flowers were miniature versions of what we have at home, such as tiger lilies and lupines. At first, we weren’t sure what we were seeing, but were reassured by a couple of park volunteers that these were indeed the same flowers, just much smaller because of the reduced growing season.
Some of the meadows were awash with avalanche lilies and subalpine buttercups. We also saw magenta paintbrush, partridge foot, subalpine daisy, pasqueflower, beargrass, Jeffrey’s shooting star and many more.
One of the plants we observed was the false hellebore. This is a highly toxic plant that does not bloom until it reaches maturity at 10 years. The flowers are small and green, so very easily overlooked. Fortunately for us, several were in bloom today.
Of course, let’s not forget the marvelous views of Mount Rainier and the numerous waterfalls in the park. We even saw a couple groups of climbers on the mountain.