We went back to Mount Rainier NP again today, but tried the southwest entrance at Nisqually. Since we are on the leeward side of the Cascades, I guess we shouldn't be surprised to find clouds and rain. Today we found both in addition to snow. No wonder they call this Mount "Rain"ier.
The road (Paradise Rd.) leading into the park gently climbs from about 1,800 ft. elevation to about 2,800 ft. along the Nisqually River that drains the Nisqually Glacier on the southern side of Mount Rainier. The river meanders through a fairly wide river bed that is strewn with boulders that were once carried by the glacier. The size of the boulders get larger as you move up the river valley closer to the glacier. The water flowing in the river is milky gray that is characteristic of glacial meltwater. It contrasts sharply with the crystal clear waters of the Ohanapecosh that we saw yesterday.
We stopped at the Longmire National Park Inn to see if we could get some lunch. Since it was Mother's Day they were having a special buffet and you needed reservations. We decided to make reservations for 4:00PM and then continue our ride up Paradise Rd. I was hoping to get to the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitors Center and be in a position to see the summit of Mount Rainier, but as we got above about 4,000 ft. the rain turned to snow and the higher we went the heavier the snow. We decided to turn around and head back down when the road signs started to say the chains or winter tires were required instead of just recommended.
Because of the rain and snow I didn't get too many pictures, but we did see a couple of pretty waterfalls. The largest was Christine Falls, that drops 69 feet in sections of 32 and 37 feet. The road passes in front of the falls on a stone arch bridge. I wanted to get the bridge and falls in a shot so I climbed down the snow covered stairway to an observation point. All the way down I had visions of slipping on my a$$ again like yesterday. I made it down and up without a fall. I surprisingly feel pretty good today with little pain from yesterday's slip and fall. I just have to watch how I move my body and bend over.
We got back to Longmire right at 4:00PM so we went in for dinner. It was a pretty good buffet except for the fact that they ran out of roast beef just as we got to the carving table. They said they would more shortly, but by the time we had finished our dinner they brought out some thin steaks that had been cooked to death. They called it "prime rib", but it wasn't. I had a piece to get my money's worth, but it wasn't very good. The dessert table was much better.
We went to Mount Rainier today for two things - See the mountain and get my National Parks Passport stamped. I got the stamp but missed the mountain. It appears that the middle of May is too early to travel at these elevations. I guess we'll have to come back when it's warmer. We'll be leaving the area tomorrow for Seattle. I'm going to put Sue on a plane bound for Baltimore. She's going to spend the next week babysitting Finn and Oskar with their other Grandmother Cindy while Kyle and Annie go to Vermont for a wedding. She'll be winging back to Seattle on May 23 where I'll pick her up at SeaTac. While she's gone, I'll be staying up on Fidalgo Island near Anacortes and exploring this area. I was hoping to see the tulips bloom in the Skagit Valley, but it's too late so I'll have to find something else to photograph. Stay tuned.