Although I was sad to leave the splendor that is Olympic National Park, I was excited for our next adventure: Mount Rainier National Park. There are hardly enough words to relay the grandeur that is the glacier-covered Mount Rainier. I think it’s accurate to say that Mount Rainier is the most beautiful single peak that we have seen so far – it is unique because it stands alone, and all other mountains we’ve seen have been grouped in a range. But Rainier is different – it soars 14,411 feet into the air, high above all the mere hills around it. Kidding. Those ‘hills’ are mountains in their own right – probably all taller than many of the peaks in Maine, so I can’t say much about their height.
There is a sort of force emanating from Mount Rainier. I almost felt like the mountain was drawing me in. It was nearly impossible for me to look anywhere else when I was hiking in the park – although, to be fair, it is fairly large, so it’s hard to miss. Although not a mountaineer myself, it makes sense to me why 9,000 people each year attempt to summit Rainier (only about half make it, according to the NPS). While we were stuck to exploring the forests surrounding the base, we weren’t missing out on much.
The Naches Loop Trail on the east side of the park provides an easy trip through wildflower covered meadows, past beautiful glacial lakes (or at least partially glacial fed – they were quite green), and to many places were I kept thinking to myself ‘Man, I wish a picture would be able to accurately capture this view.’ I attempted to do my best with capturing the majesty of the park in pictures. Seeing as I only have a very small, not great camera, it was difficult – but the stunning landscape helped my poor photography skills along.
One of the cool parts about the Naches Loop Trail was that a portion of it ran along the Pacific Crest Trail. So Katie and I can both say that we’ve now hiked a portion of the PCT! Granted, it was only about a mile along the PCT before the Naches Loop split off, but still! It is cool to be able to say that I’ve now hiked along two of the major thru hike destinations in the US — the PCT and the Appalachian Trail.