Family, Museums — May 30, 2015 4:47 pm

Mount Rainier (May 30, 2015)

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Rainier trip with John (5-30-15) 4550.jpg

Steve and the kids picked up grandpa John and headed to Mt. Rainier, starting with a picnic lunch and short hike on the Trail of the Shadows at Longmire. The kids hoped to discover a beaver dam as there was plenty of evidence of tree-gnawing activity along the edge of the marshy meadow. We discovered the bubbling springs that had once been harnessed as pool-like spas for the cabins built by the Longmire family to attract tourists. One such spring was bubbling up a frothy sludge of rusted iron-oxide that had long stained its pedestal with layers of rich ruddy-brown sediment through the years. We had a good look at a Pileated Woodpecker that went about its busy hunt for juicy grubs just a few feet from us. The presence of spiders also piqued Mitchell’s interest as we observed evidence of the ecosystem in action from the coniferous canopy down through the snags to rotting nurse logs and low-lying fauna.

Further up the road we had our first good look at Rainier when we stopped briefly at a viewpoint on the road to Paradise.

Arriving at Paradise, we found a snowy field just below where we parked, and in no time at all the kids were all over it. It was our first time in the new much smaller Henry M. Jackson visitors center, having been present when they took down the flag for the last time at the old center in 2009. The family had been to Paradise to celebrate Steve’s birthday with dinner at the Paradise Inn a few years ago, but had not had the opportunity to go inside the new visitors center that time.

Outside the kids paused a moment to play in the piles of snow that were still plentiful on the side of the visitors center. Just as he turned to appreciate the view of the mountain, Steve was hit in the back by a slushy snowball. Good times.

We found the Avalanche Lilies the first in bloom, and very plentiful along the trail. With the untypically warm winter and spring, the whole area at Paradise is predicted to be covered in colorful blooms in a matter of weeks. We took a short climb, but decided it was too late to start a real hike on this visit.

On the trip back down the mountain, McKenzie slipped into a deep sleep, only to be well rested when we stopped for milkshakes and a look through the train museum in Elbe.

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