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Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

{This one’s a long one—I tried to keep the writing short because I wanted this post to contain mostly photos, but I couldn’t help myself, heh. Click here to see this post in full where it was originally posted.}

One of my favorite parts about vacationing is experiencing the marvelous wonders of nature, from lounging by a beach with the clearest water to hiking up to a breathtaking view. While I do love walking through the streets of unknown cities and meandering into cute shops or devouring the local cuisine, I’ve begun to cultivate a love for the outdoors. Spending weeks during previous summers camping out by Seven Lakes in Upstate New York don’t do any of the sights any justice whatsoever.

Before embarking on our journey to Mount Rainier, we stopped by The Bair Bistro in the tiny, beautiful town of Steilacoom. The living museum and restaurant does a fantastic job of preserving the 1900s, with antique items ranging from old milkshake mixers to ancient medicines lining their shelves. Peering at the shelves was a great way to pass the time as we waited for our food, which was also quite delicious. Highly recommend the biscuits and gravy if you ever find yourself in Steilacoom.

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The drive to the national park was a beauty in itself—the winding roads, magnificent trees, crisp air, and the peeks of Mount Rainier took my breath away. I couldn’t shut up about the trees. When you’re in the presence of these mighty trees after spending most of your life surrounded by skyscrapers and stumpy East Coast trees, you can’t help but stick your head out of the window in pure amazement at these wonders.

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If I were to pick a favorite part of my week-long excursion in Washington, it would be this day we spent hiking Mount Rainier. I’m already itching to go back so I can explore the park even further for those breathtaking views of fog and the mountain itself. Unfortunately, we arrived after the fog rolled through the park, so all views of grand Mount Rainier were already hidden away.

However, this was hardly a problem; the fogged up views were exactly what I had hoped for. Watching the wisps of fog slipping through the tall trees and rolling through the hills and valleys of the trail felt surreal, as if I was partaking in one of nature’s own private shows. An eerie but beautiful stillness started to envelop the areas around us while the fog seemed to dance around us, appearing as quickly as it disappeared.

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Let me also add that this hike was not a walk in the park. The inclines were incredibly difficult for someone who does relatively little to no exercise. I could feel the blood rushing to my face as my heart raced and legs screamed in pain. Lawd, my legs just spazzed just thinking about the pain.

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At one point of the hike, we were met with what seemed like a giant wall of white nothingness on the left side of the trail. I almost felt like I was in one of those completely white rooms from the movies that seem to go on forever with all but one or two other things in them. The most amazing part of this was being able to hear the wind howling somewhere behind this white wall of nothingness, this thick, thick accumulation of fog. Coupled with the howling wind, you could almost see the fog moving (or maybe my eyes were deceiving me). It was one of the most incredible moments during the hike, probably the highlight of the trip for me. Mind you, it wasn’t a gradual foggy lead into the white abyss of nothing; it was simply a solid white wall of fog. The feeling was similar to when I watched Interstellar in IMAX 3-D, that feeling of insignificance and feeling like such a minuscule dot in this big world.

We continued onward with the hopes of maybe, just maybe, if we climbed a little ways further, we would be able to see some blue skies and the top of the hidden Mount Rainier. Several strenuous hills and countless “leg breaks” later, we gave up and started our trek down.

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Walking down was also an incredible experience. It was as if we were emerging from a cloud and slowly floating down to normal altitudes. The transition from thick fog to seeing pockets of blue skies and sunlight on the trees had us stopping every few steps in attempts to capture the picturesque landscapes.

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Also a little fun science thing: I had a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos (surprise, surprise) in the car. Because we were at a much higher altitude, the bag had puffed up like a balloon. I took a moment to enjoy the science tidbit before I ripped the bag open and devoured the contents.

Tips for your trip to Mount Rainier National Park:

  • Go earlier in the day to see the peak before the fog rolls in. But also be prepared to not see the peak because weather permitting, you may or may not be able to see anything but fog, fog, and more fog.
  • Bring pleeeeeenty of water (and some snacks) because if you’re in as bad shape as I am, it will be the nectar of the hiking gods for you during your climb up.
  • Hiking shoes are not mandatory because the trails are pretty flat (photos for reference above). Regular ol’ running shoes would do the trick.

I seriously cannot wait to go back to see more of this park. Looking at geotags from the park now shows people hitting the slopes and walking through a snowy park. I definitely want to see the park in all this wintery, snowy glory. Now taking donations for a return trip to Washington. Anyone?

[Originally posted here]

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