Mount Rainier National Park – Join Me In This Family Outing – You’ll Love It!

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

I can recall my first trip to Mount Rainier National Park when I was just a kid.  It was way before the state had to begin charging a small fee in order to enter the park, so for many, many years it was free to the public.

Even though living in the state of Washington, surrounded by trees of a huge variety, there was just something about the park that envigorated an individual’s “inner self.”   Many who, for the first time into the park, have commented that it was a type of “spiritual” thing.   Though that never entered my mind or my feelings, but what did enter me was a sense of serenity.   I just loved it!

As the years went by and now growing into adulthood, returning to the park took on entirely new dimensions.  How so?  Being married and having a small son and an older daughter,  made the journey most enjoyable, especially through children’s  eyes and their personal enjoyment of the park which in turn, made it that much more pleasurable for my wife and I, especially when they both got into the snow that was higher up on the mountain.  And this was true even though it is the month of August, the warmest month of the year.

Once more, going back a number of years, I can recall that to enter the park per car load, was somewhere around $2.00.   The next time was about $5.00 per car load.  Then, because of the maintenance of the park, it went up to cost-per-person entering the park.

Entering the Park

Entering the Park

Now you may be thinking that I’ll be mentioning the beautiful mountain lakes, wildlife, heavily forested landscape, wild flowers, massive varieties of birds along with a pictorial drive up the Mount Rainier National Park main road up to the Paradise lodge.   Well, you’d be wrong, at least for now.  However I will be posting another blog with that in it a bit later on.  Right now, I’m going to give you a bit of my own personal experience……with VERY COLD water!

The Cold Water Experience…Yikes !

Being, at the time I did this, a young man, and thinking that I’m pretty much “indestructible” because of good health and really “feeling my oats” on that particular day, I did the following really stupid thing.   Let me explain. Shortly after entering the park you will come to a small bridge with a narrow river running under it.  At each end of the bridge you will be able to park off the main road and then on the mountain side of the bridge, walk down to the waters edge and either skip rocks or watch the fish swim by.

Well, since there was very little traffic that day and I wanted to get a better view of the river, I decided to walk out on to the bridge to it’s center.  Now that I’m here, I can see down into the water, and because of it’s clarity, I can see the rocks on the river bottom.  Noticing that it’s probably about 15 or 20 feet deep, I came up with a real brainstorm of an idea.  Being a hot day, I decided I would just jump in and swim over to the gravel area where the rest of my family and friends were skipping the rocks into the water.

Next thing I know, I standing on the bridge railing getting ready to jump in.  Since it was only about 15 or 20 feet from the center of the river over to the gravel area along the river edge, I figured I’d be just fine……Wrong!

Next thing I know, I was flying through the air, feet first, heading for the center of the river.   Then it hit me like a ton of bricks….or should I say… a ton of ice…..water!

I’d not taken into consideration that ALL the rivers flowing down Mount Rainier, were glacier fed.  In other words, the water is REALLY, REALLY COLD !   So when I hit the water, feet first, I could instantly feel the blood being pushed upward, upward, upwards toward my head.  I mean, it really happened within 1 or 2 seconds that all of this happened.   It was like my head was about to ‘pop’ from the blood rush.

Going under, I knew I was in trouble.  Needless to say, I came up fast and heading for the shore.  Now you may be thinking that since it was only a short distance away, it would be easy to get there.  Again…..wrong!  Trying to get my legs and arms to move was like they had joggers weights tied to them.  I could tell that those on shore knew something was wrong by the expressions on their faces.

Well, after what seems like 5 minutes in the water (though it was only about 20/30 second) I was able to finally pull my icey water drenched body from the little “dip in the river.”   Needless to say, it took the better part of 30 or 40 minutes to again, warm up.

This is very similar to where I jumped into the icy water. Brrrrrr

This is very similar to where I jumped into the icy water. Brrrrrr









The Moral of the Story ?

Don’t jump into the river to cool off!

Continuing Our Journey Up The Mountain

Now that I’m back to normal (well sort of)  let’s get back on the road and up to Paradise Lodge and the hiking trails.  Now, if you are looking to see the natural beauty of Mount Rainier National Park, then the time to go is either in the late part of July or throughout the entire month of August.  Those are the best times to see everything.  How so?

Well, even though it’s summer time at sea-level, up on the mountain side, it’s almost like spring.  It’s around July/August that it gets warm enough up top, that the spring flowers, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and many more of the colorful flying insects start to show up.  The open fields (which by the way, you must stay off) with the wild flowers blooming along with local fauna roaming the grasses, is absolutely wonderful!

An added benefit of the Seattle weather (it rains most of the year) is that the air is usually very clean and clear of smog.  As you go higher up, the air takes on that refreshing, exhilarating crispness in the air that makes you feel like running and jumping.  You’ll just feel good!  Reminds me of being at the ocean when the surf is coming in.

Pictures Are Worth A 1000 Words

Oh, yes, and be sure to take loads of pictures along the way or perhaps some videos of what is going on around you.  You’ll never regret it.  One place that you’ll just HAVE to stop for pics or video is what is know as Mirror Lake by the locals, however it’s official name is :  Reflection Lake.   Going up towards the mountain top, Reflection Lake will be on your right hand side.  Believe me, you’ll know it when you see it.

Do you see the complete reflection in the lake?  That is why it’s known by the locals as Mirror Lake, though that’s not it’s official name.   Let’s continue up the mountain side, shall we?

Reflection Lake (mirror lake...unofficial name)

Reflection Lake (mirror lake…unofficial name)

I’ll continue this blog with a link to the next section as we continue up the mountain.

If my little “road trip” was likeable, be sure and leave me a comment below because in that way,  I can comment back to you or answer questions.

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Posted by Tom McDaniel