From autumn to winter back to autumn again at Mt. Rainier

Frosted trees at Paradise, Mt. Rainier
Frosted trees at Paradise, Mt. Rainier

This past Monday my friend L and I decided to take advantage of the clear (if rather chilly) weather and make a jaunt up to Mt. Rainier. Our goal was Paradise, at 5400 feet, but that depended on how clear the roads were, it having snowed up there the day before.

The roads were only a bit icy in spots (we only slid once, and that for a few inches), and the rewards were spectacular. Six inches of very sticky snow coated everything, from the Inn to random plant stems. It was clear when we arrived, but the clouds did start building up while we were up there, which is why I have no pictures of the actual mountain from this trip.

Paradise Inn, boarded up for the winter.
Paradise Inn, boarded up for the winter.
Frosted bushes
Frosted bushes
There *is* a Mountain behind those clouds, honest.
There *is* a Mountain behind those clouds, honest.
Nice tall snow sticks so the plows can find the parking lot.
Nice tall snow sticks so the plows can find the parking lot.
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Nevermore in the almost-deserted parking lot.

It was cold. 31dF, to be precise, with a bit of wind. So we didn’t stay up there long, just enough so my friend could try out her new snow boots, so I could accidentally step in a plowed pile of snow up to my knees, and to eat our picnic lunch in the car.

Then we headed back down, stopping at Narada Falls (where the trail to the falls viewpoint was completely iced over), and at Longmire (at about half the altitude of Paradise), where we walked one of my favorite trails in the park, the Trail of the Shadows.

The Trail of the Shadows leads around the edge of a meadow dotted with hot springs and partially filled with a pond. It’s also the site of the first settlement in what is now the park, where, in the 1880s, James Longmire discovered the hot springs and decided to build facilities so that people could come and soak in them (and drink the water, although its reputation is foul-tasting).

This time of year mushrooms are quite abundant and varied. But the trail wasn’t underwater, which parts of it can be in late fall.

Two of the many, many mushrooms/toadstools/miscellaneous fungi we saw at Longmire.
Two of the many, many mushrooms/toadstools/miscellaneous fungi we saw at Longmire.
Across the golden meadow to the rain forest.
Across the golden meadow to the rain forest.
One of the springs the Longmires tamed for their resort.
One of the springs the Longmires tamed for their resort.
Plenty of running water, but none over the trail.
Plenty of running water, but none over the trail.

It was my first real outing since recovering from pneumonia last month. I’m quite pleased to report that I made it all the way around the mile-long trail without getting tired, as well as doing all the driving on the 3-hour round trip. I must be well!