My cousin, Virginia, and her husband, Steve, were visiting from Maryland, and had not been to Mt. Rainier on previous trips west so we whisked them from sea level to Paradise on Mt. Rainier at 5,400 feet elevation, not an easy transition if you are intent on hiking but they did great.
The first afternoon/evening we played a game of peek-a-boo with the mountain, the clouds obscuring the summit most of the time and I was worried that after driving so far we might not even see the summit. Fear not, the next morning we awoke to clear blue skies and the mountain out in all of its glory and a nice brisk walk before breakfast sounded nice. The mountain is amazing in the early morning light but walking outside we were slammed with 30+ mph winds and 39 degrees – a little too brisk. We walked down the Nisqually Glacier trail and ducked down behind the trees to get out of the wind for a much more comfortable walk; it was still cold but we were out of the wind. We met Steve and Virginia on their way back from the more exposed skyline trail and we headed back to the inn for hot coffee and breakfast, a rather disappointing and over-priced buffet but the coffee was good.
Staying at the historic Paradise Inn where the views are spectacular and the trails start right outside the door is always a treat. The parking lot clears out in late afternoon leaving you, and the other 100+ guests, alone to enjoy the evening and early morning light, great for photography. This year there was a lot of trail reconstruction taking place so access was not quite as straightforward but still just a short walk from the lodge.
From Paradise we drove the Stevens Canyon Road stopping for short hikes into Bench and Snow Lakes, Box Canyon and the Grove of the Patriarchs.
Nearing Bench Lake
Box Canyon Trail
Grove of the Patriarchs Trail
I learned that two days is not nearly enough time for the amount of ground we covered. We ended up spending far too much time sitting in the car instead of enjoying the trails and didn’t allow enough time to just revel in the beautiful surroundings. Next time we will stay in one place or allow more time.