Well, we broke another temperature record for the date yesterday at 93 degrees, here in the Seattle area. Thankfully, the mini heat wave only lasted one day. Suggestions made by the weather people included going up to Mount Rainier to escape the heat. I tend to disagree with that suggestion when the heat warning is up for the whole region, which it was. I was planning to go to the national park, anyway, to get my Interagency Senior Access Pass. I finally reached that age where I qualify for the pass that allows me to visit any US national park for the rest of my life as many times as I want. And the cost? Only $10. Such as deal!
Folks … if you are going to visit a national park during the summer tourist month, it is best to avoid the weekends. If you can’t avoid the weekends, then be an early riser and get to the park early morning; otherwise, you will not find a parking spot. This can be very irritating, especially if you’ve packed up the whole family and have driven a long way, only to stand in long lines getting into the park and then not being able to find a parking spot.
Anyway, I went to the park primarily to obtain my new access pass. I did not plan to stay the day because I knew the tourists would soon be flooding the park. Nonetheless, I arrived early and enjoyed the solitude. And yes, it was pretty warm up there, too. The snow is still around at the higher levels and is melting fast. I was looking around for some spring flowers, and the only ones I could find were the bright, pink Rock Pestamon and some spreading Phlox. The Pestamon literally grow out of the rock surfaces along the roadside. You’ll have to look up to spot them. They are one of the first blooms to appear in the park.
Another flower commonly spotted in the early blooming season is the spreading Plox. These small, low-growing flowers grow in patches, mainly along the sides of the roads. There are pale purple in color.
The site I was most curious about was the Reflection Lakes area. The lakes are located on the Stevens Canyon Road. I wanted to see if the lakes had thawed yet. If you visit at just the right time, when the lakes are just starting to thaw, you will find a beautiful reflection of Mount Rainier in an area of open water. Again, you have to time this just right during the spring thaw. And, boy, did I time it just right! There were no breezes and the water was absolutely still for the perfect image. Below are some nice shots I was able to obtain.
At the far end of the lake was a lot of red color mixed in with the snow and ice. I don’t know what it is. It is most likely some form of plant or algae.
I love the way the reflection of the mountain appears to be part of the snow and ice in the image below.
You can still get lovely photos of the mountain’s reflection in the water during the summer season, but you will need to arrive at a time of day when there are no breezes creating ripple effects on the water surface.
Up at the Paradise level of the park, there is still plenty of snow covering the meadows. There are no snow-free trails yet. The Paradise Inn is open for business along with the visitor center. Food is available at both places. Speaking of food, I decided to stop at Longmire on my way back down to have lunch at the historic, National Park Inn. I highly recommend ordering the fish and chips. The table service was excellent, as well.
Please be aware that there is road construction during the weekdays in the park this year, from Longmire up to Paradise. Last year, the bottom half of the park road was resurfaced; this year, the upper part of the road will be improved. All the road improvements will eventually make it a most enjoyable experience for everyone visiting the park. For updated info on road construction in the park, visit https://www.nps.gov/mora/getinvolved/nisqually-paradise-road.htm
All images property of Peggy A Thompson