Mount Rainier National Park
This must be the most number of waterfalls in a string I’ve seen in my life. We were at Mount Rainier National Park, en route to Seattle from Olympic National Park. It was our final full day in Washington state before we flew back the next day. Not wanting to leave quite yet, we (the Dutch) had the brilliant plan of driving through Mount Rainier to squeeze in just a wee bit more of this whimsical state of dense forests, fog, mountains, rainforests, and yes, waterfalls. We had an annual pass after all, and only short of three hours from where we were, there wasn’t any reason not to make a run for it.
Mt. Rainier is an active volcano, with a peak of 14,000 feet. According to the National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the US that we had packed, there are 25 major glaciers around the mountain, forming the largest collection of permanent ice on a single US peak south of Alaska.
It was foggy and misty the entire time, but the rivers were full and gushing by hurriedly. However, our chances of catching a glimpse of Mt. Rainier and the glaciers were decimated. Visibility was very poor and while we attempted a hike to one of the spots to view the glaciers, it ended in vain since all we saw are clouds. And a marmot.
What there was no shortage of, however, were waterfalls and fresh mountain air. So we gorged on both. We stopped for a quick hike at the Grove of the Patriarchs nearing the north end of the park and wallowed in the unspoken wisdom of ancient hemlocks and firs.
On our way out of the park, we encountered the heaviest fog yet. Visibility approached zero and with the winding mountain roads, it wasn’t easy on the nerves. Then out of nowhere, the sky split open. And there it was – the beauty that was denied us all day – the snowcapped peak of Mount Rainier, saying a bittersweet hello and goodbye all at once.