Our yearly pilgrimage to Mt. Rainier has finally arrived and I can hardly wait, Mt. Rainier is definitely my happy place. With most of the winter snows gone I am hoping for a spectacular show of wild flowers but in truth I will love it flowers or none it is just such a beautiful place in any weather, any time of the year, the mountain has an energy that I cannot describe you just have to go there and feel it for yourself.
When we arrived at Longmire, about 25 miles from the top of the road at Paradise Inn, the sign said the parking lot was full at Paradise and that is never good but it is Sunday and summer weekends are packed, everyone out to enjoy the mountains. We took a chance, as did many others, and drove to the top, we have a reservation at the Inn for the night so knew that at some point we would find a place to park it was just a matter of how far we would have to hike back up.
All of the trailhead parking spots were full and nearing the Inn the picnic parking was full and cars were parked in every possible spot alongside the road . . . not looking good. We made a couple of passes through the parking lot hoping someone would leave but no such luck and then I saw a man with a clipboard at the entrance to the parking for the Inn . . . perhaps an “in”. Sure enough he was allowing registered guests in to park even though we had arrived early WAHOO!
Paradise Inn is a classic National Park Inn, built in 1916. The rooms are small and simple, some with and some without baths but the rooms are not the main attraction here, it is the mountain.
We were meeting friends who had driven up yesterday and we quickly found them, grabbed a bite of lunch then headed off for a hike. The clouds were welcome, making hiking a delight as we climbed above the tree line. We started out on the Myrtle Falls trail and then headed east for a short distance on the Skyline Trail before being turned back by a stream crossing.
Slogging back uphill we continued in the other direction playing peek-a-boo with the mountain as the clouds rolled in and out. At elevations above 5,500 feet we were feeling challenged by the steep trail and thin air but we persevered seduced by the views and meadows of blooming wildflowers (avalanche lilies, glacier lilies, magenta Indian paintbrush and lupine.