Visited my 14th national park this Memorial Day weekend (yes, I counted), and it was an incredible experience. Most of Rainier was still snowed in, but half the park was still accessible. Did you know? Rainier is one of the most snowed upon places on Earth! Yeah, I didn’t either until this weekend.
So, instead of having the entire park to explore, we’re only left with the southern half (e.g. paradise) of the park that is still accessible. The northern half (e.g. Sunrise) won’t be accessible until June or July.
We took things slow our first day. Mainly because we took a red eye into SeaTac, and only caught about 2 hours of sleep.
Narada Falls was a sight to behold. Crisp, cold alpine air around, rushing river water beneath, evergreen trees lining the mountains, bright white snow, and the sun peaking from behind the mountains.
Picture that, along with a stone bridge in the foreground and you can picture our next stop: Christine Falls.
After we got our photos, we drove up to Paradise, one of the most populated areas in the park. Unfortunately for us, most of Paradise is still snowed in.
At least we the roads were open, and we were able to check out the visitor center. Trails were closed off, so we weren’t able to do much besides walk around in the snow.
Some visitors were shoe shoeing, but we were didn’t have the energy or desire this time around.
After a nap, we drove to a small nearby town named Elbe. In 2010, Elbe has a population of 29. Twenty nine. Incredible considering I come from a city of 8 million people. There was an annual festival going on, so we stopped to check it out. Food and merchandise, think county fair type of thing, and that’s the event at Elbe. It’s a two lane highway, with rows and rows of booths lined up alongside – you can’t miss it. Tons of fried food, and elephant ears were very popular. It’s similar to funnel cake- fried dough topped with powered sugar, berries, or chocolate. So were shaved ice, corn dogs, hot dogs, burgers, sodas, and ice cream. Typical fair food.
Surprisingly, it was 90 degrees that day. Didn’t think it could ever get that warm anywhere in Washington. We grabbed a corn dog, philly cheesesteak, and Pepsi (Washington seems pretty keen on Pepsi, even though we all know Coke is better) for lunch. Literally couldn’t stay out there any longer, so we walked to the nearby coffee shop for some iced drinks and A/C.
Dinner picnic style at the nearby restaurant where we lodged. Simple all American burger, hits the spot after a long day. A customer saw poster on the wall of a guy holding a rainier beer and snapped a photo. Owner asked if she knew who that guy was, she said no. Owner said that’s his dad- years ago he was asked to do a promo for Rainier beer, he did, and used the money to open up the restaurant. Pretty cool, huh?
Also, there’s a mountaineering day school offered at the nearby lodge. Guides lead climbers around Rainier, preparing for other summits such as Kilmanjaro or Everest.
To illustrate how Rainier compares to other summits, picture this: Rainier is about 14k ft, and Everest is 29K ft!! I can’t even imagine what it’s like to up.
.. So for now, I’ll stick to my indoors climbing.
We called it an early night after dinner, and prepared for day 2. Post coming soon.