Weekly Hike #13, to Mount Rainier, was scheduled for Wednesday, September 14, because the forecast that day was for cooler weather. Mr. D and I did not want to repeat hiking in 80-plus degree heat, as we had done the previous week at Snow Lake. When we got up early Wednesday morning, the weather was definitely cooler, but it was also cloudy and gray, and it remained that way during the entire three-hour drive, until just after we drove through the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Then, as if on cue, the clouds parted and the sun burst forth. The only thing missing was the angels singing...
The hike started out from Paradise, located at 5,400 feet on the south slope of Mount Rainier. But it also was paradise. The wildflowers, blooming exceptionally late this year due to heavy spring snows, were at their peak, and everywhere we looked there were lupines, lupines and more lupines! Their fragrance was indescribable—a wonderful spicy perfume that I wish I could capture in a bottle. In addition to the thousands of lupines, there were also Pearly Everlasting (the white flowers in the meadow below), Alpine Asters and Pasqueflowers.
The trails at Paradise are an interesting mix of easy and difficult. The trails that start out near the visitor center are paved, and some are smooth enough to be wheelchair accessible. The higher and steeper you go, the more difficult the trail. Below are photos of the Skyline Trail just below and just above our lunch spot at Panorama Point (elevation 6,800 feet):
The hiking was hard sometimes, but always satisfying, because everywhere we looked there was a spectacular view.
Since this hike last week, the weather has grown cooler, and we've had rain for the first time in over a month. At Paradise, the lupine blossoms have probably faded, and the first snow is not too far in the future. But I have these wonderful images of the final hike of the summer to remember until the lupines are in bloom once again.
We'll be back next year, Mount Rainier; we'll be back.