A couple of years ago, my husband and I were vacationing in Washington State, near the Seattle area. We did all of the typical things downtown, visited Pike’s Place Market and the fish people, saw the Space Needle, and went to a Mariner’s game. Then we decided that it would be nice to see some of the nature in Washington, so we decided to take a trip to Mount Rainier, even though it was a very long drive.
I’d say it was probably the best decision we made on the whole trip. We drove up to the highest point that you can drive to, and the got out and hiked. It was a long drive up, but we drove through the most beautiful trees and past the greenest meadows. Up at the top, you have this incredible view of the peak, and it is like nothing I have ever seen before. The top of the mountain is covered with glacial ice year round, so even though we were visiting in July, it was shining in ice. It had this certain glow that made me understand what “purple mountains majesty” are.
Hiking up at the top reminded me of that scene at the end of The Sound of Music where they are escaping Austria and climbing over rolling green hills. There were waterfalls, both large and small, everywhere we turned. At one point, we wandered off the trail and took some time to wade in the water of a stream at the bottom of a smaller waterfall. Since the water is pure snow run off, it was ice cold and incredibly refreshing. Since it looked so absolutely clear and beautiful, I just had to taste it. I dipped my hands in to scoop up the mountain water, and brought it to my lips. I never knew that water could taste that fresh!
The flowers were like no flowers that you will find at sea level, that’s for sure! They ask you to stay on the trail, but oh how I wanted to run through those meadows!
There is one negative to the whole experience, and that is the air quality. I am sure you are thinking, “Shouldn’t the air be wonderfully clear up there?” Well, yes, it is clear, but it is very thin too. When you get up that high, it is practically like being on an airplane. The air is very thin, which makes it easy to get winded quickly. We had to take our hiking very slowly, especially since I have asthma. My asthma doesn’t usually bother me hiking, but hiking at this altitude is a completely different story.
Because it was so strenuous, we didn’t really go very far on the path, but that is the wonderful thing about this place. There is so much beautiful stuff to see without hiking very far at all.
On the way home we got slightly lost, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. The road we took home winded along a beautiful river surrounded by luscious greenery, so thick that it nearly blocked out the sunlight. It was absolutely gorgeous. Mount Rainier is a wonderful place to visit, and completely worth the drive!