Once the urban sprawl emanating from Portland dissipates, Southern Washington becomes rolling pastoral hills and small logging towns on the edge of the river. It really is gorgeous and smooth to drive through, even though I’m not particularly tempted to stop at any of the towns, as there doesn’t appear to be much to do. I’m on my way to Mt. Rainier National Park. I’m not really sure what to expect as I haven’t heard too much about it and only know that it’s famous and it’s a tall mountain.
I learn that Mt. Rainier is an active volcano, draped with a glacier and oozing warm sulfuric steam from the vents near the peak. Those who hike the summit tend to warm themselves in the sporadic steam vents as they make their way to the top. Neat! And while such a trudging chilly assent (steam vents or no) doesn’t really appeal to me, I am tempted to hike the Wonderland trail, which travels all around the base of the mountain, but without a daypack or water, I decide it isn’t a good idea. Maybe I’ll be back again.
The area around the visitor’s center is alpine meadow and overflowing with wildflowers this time of year. It makes me want to run on the hills and sing The Sound of Music while spinning around idyllically. But there are too many witnesses. Instead I make my way down the peak and hike a couple of the shorter trails in the lush forests around the mountain.