North to Alaska-2010 travel blog

First glimpse of Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier Ntl Park entrance

Mt. Rainier


Mt. Rainier and Reflection Lake

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

David by giant tree root in Mt. Rainier

Trees in Grove of the Patriarchs

Lunch at Mt. Rainier

We traveled to Silver Creek next. On our way we saw Mt. Rainier in the distance. At first you think you are seeing clouds and then you realize it is the mountain. We were about 100 miles away when we first saw it. The RV park was on Harmony Lake and was quite peaceful. We are in this area to visit Mt. Rainier National Park and Mt. St. Helen’s National Historic Site. There are two entrances to Mt. Rainier Ntl. Park. We entered on the Nisqually Entrance the first day. As you drive through the park the road winds through giant Douglas firs and red cedars – some of the trees are 200 feet tall! As you drive through the park you get different views of Mt. Rainier and it keeps getting bigger and bigger. Even though Mt. Rainier at 14,411 feet is not nearly as high as Mt. McKinley we are able to get much closer and have better views of it and it is very impressive. There are over 26 glaciers just on Mt. Rainier. We had a gorgeous, clear day, the sky was unbelievably blue and clear so we had perfect views of the mountain. We were even able to see people climbing up on the icefields (through binoculars). Mt. Rainier is still an active volcano and scientists are always monitoring it for any activity. We saw numerous water falls. On another day we entered the Park through the Stevens Canyon entrance and were able to view the mountain from the other side – still amazing and we were very lucky it was another clear blue-sky day. We took a couple of hikes on this day. One was through the Grove of the Patriarchs, where the trees are over 1,000 years old. They tower so high that from the path you can’t even see the tops of the trees. We also visited Mt. St. Helen’s National Historic Site. This year is the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helen’s. We watched the movie at the site and it was very informative and scary. It did not erupt like we think of a volcano, such as the one in Hawaii. There was no flowing, red-hot lava. It actually started expanding on the side of the mountain, like a pregnant woman’s tummy. The scientists knew something was going on, but because they had no knowledge of this type of eruption they did not know what to expect. From gasses forming underneath the surface and small earthquakes it caused the side of the mountain to blow out or erupt sending pumice stones, rocks and gasses spewing out. The concussion of the eruption flattened trees and everything else in it’s path for over 30 miles. It caused lakes to fill with fallen trees and rivers of mud, overflowing them and sending cascades of water along with all the other debris. Fifty-four people were killed or listed as missing. Scientists estimated at first it would take 100 years for the area to recover, but 30 years later there are trees and other plants and animals have returned to the area. In large part due to the help of the Weyerhauser Company who replanted many of the forests. This site was so interesting. Of course, we knew about Mt. St. Helen’s, but until you have actually seen it and learned the facts it is just a news story. The weather was quite warm while we were here. Most days it was 95 in lower elevations and 75 up near the mountain. The people at the campground said this was their few days of summer. Previous to this they had a lot of rainy, cool weather, so I guess we have been very fortunate to have warm, clear days while we are here. This was the warmest weather we have had since we were in North Dakota back in May.

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