Mounthaven Resort has been a neat place to spend time. The setting among the tall trees is very peaceful and the owners, Craig and Joan, are very friendly and helpful people. One of the fun aspects of the campground is the daily visits of deer. In particular we have a pair of females who tend to come by in the morning and a pair of young bucks who seem to prefer evening visits.
Saturday was an overcast day so we opted to relax at the campground for the day. In the afternoon we took a back road called Skate Creek Road to Packwood for church. The 23-mile long road is paved but bumpy in spots and runs for a short time along the Nisqually River and then heads southwest along Skate Creek. In addition to church, we had a pizza dinner and visited the local grocery store.
Sunday was another gray day so we decided to take Arnie for a hike. Craig had told us about Copper Canyon Road that runs from highway 706 up into the hills to the trailhead of a mountain trail that promised some snow for Arnie to play in. The trip up the road was slow and BUMPY. At times it was reduced to a single lane as it wound its way upward to a point seven miles from its beginning that would have offered a spectacular view of Mount Rainier on a more suitable day. Unfortunately the top 7/8 of the peak was enshrouded in clouds on Sunday.
We continued upward for another mile and a half to the roads end. From the trailhead we had a choice of going right and downhill or left and uphill. Surpisingly the downhill direction offered access to snow. So, we went down for about a half mile and reached a meadow with several snowdrifts and some emerging glacier lilies. The snow invigorated Arnie enough to roll on it and even run a bit.
We returned to our starting point and continued up the hill to explore more of the trail. By the time we returned to the car we had covered a couple of miles with considerable elevation change. We made the return trip down the bumpy road and then headed west to Adler Lake, about 15 miles to the west, where we could get AT&T reception to use our phone. After using the phone we returned to the See Ya for our chicken dinner.
The weather forecast for today was again gloomy. But, when the sun began to shine, we decided to head into the national park to see how things went. We started by getting off the main road and taking the Westside Road to its end about three miles from the turnoff. Sue wanted to get in a fast walk and the road provided an opportunity for Arnie to walk with us.
The day continued to brighten so we decided to head farther into the park. As it turned out we made a seventy-five mile circle drive that showed us again how dominant Rainier is of the surrounding area.
We made a short stop at Longmire where there are sleeping and eating accommodations, a museum, and our first view of Mount Rainier of the day. We didn’t linger long but headed on toward Paradise.
Having already been to Paradise on Friday, we bypassed that turnoff and continued on the park road toward Ohanapecosh. Shortly after the turnoff we came to a remarkable viewpoint that overlooks Naranda Falls below and provides one of the very best views of the mountain. We spent about a half hour enjoying this special place.
The road wound down along the side of a steep canyon and the mountain would be out of sight and then dramatically reappear along the way. We followed the road all the way to the park exit and then turned south to route 12 then west toward Packwood.
We once again visited the Packwood grocery store. The view to the northwest from the store parking lot was dominated by – you guessed it – Mount Rainier! We stopped in for an ice cream cone and Sue stopped for a haircut before we took Skate Creek Road heading for home.
After following Skate Creek for about twelve miles the road headed west and found the shore of the Nisqually River. After a couple of miles we stopped along the road at a point along the river where we had a dramatic view of – you probably got this – Mount Rainier!
We’ll be here for a few more days and the weather forecast isn’t good. But we have been fortunate in having two great opportunities to explore the park. If you haven’t seen Rainier in person, we highly recommend that you put it on your to do list!