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Reconnoitering Mt. Rainier

mt-rainier-wa-silhouette

 

My summer vacation took me to the Pacific Northwest this past month.  Getting to visit my son who recently moved to Seattle was the impetus for the trip, but being a lover of the outdoors, one of the highlights was exploring the wilds of Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park.

Mount Rainier looms over the relatively flat terrain only 50 miles southeast of Seattle.
On any clear day, the 14,410 foot mountain is visible from the city.  It is also an active volcano that last erupted approximately 150 years ago, and is supposedly due to erupt again…

 

phil-cantor-cascade-mountains

 

What makes Mt. Rainer NP so fascinating is its unbelievable diversity of ecosystems. Since the park has a 12,800 foot elevation gain from the lowland entrance to the summit, the vegetation as well as the scenery changes with every step. Above you can see me amongst subalpine firs and wildflower fields with towering pinnacles taking up the rear. Also note my trés chic New York-New Jersey Trail Conference baseball hat, adding a bit of the East Coast style to the West Coast vibe.

 

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Speaking of wildflowers, these funny fellows are known as Western Anemone aka Hippie Sticks, Pasque Flower, and Towhead Baby, though I prefer Cousin It, considering their remarkable resemblance to the classic Addam’s Family character.

 

forest-mt-rainier-washington

 

Not only were the flowers and mountain scenery stunning, but the forests were enchanting. These primordial woods give you the feeling of walking through time, to a place untouched by humans.  Hiking through this old growth forest, I was struck by the age, height and beauty of the 300 year old trees, many over 20 stories tall such as Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, and Western Red Cedar.

I would go back at the drop of my NYNJTC baseball hat…