Mount Rainer dominates the eastern skyline of the Seattle/Tacoma area. A volcano that made its last major eruption too long ago to remember, it is still an active volcano. We were able to have our three granddaughters stay with us for another week and we thought a trip to Mount Rainer would be a great activity.
The girls have been able to visit several of our National Parks and have participated in the Junior Ranger Program at each one. Our visit to Mount Rainer was made with the goal of the girls adding another Junior Ranger badge to their collection. If you have visited a National Park with a child who went through the Junior Ranger workbook, you probably learned more about the park than other visitors. This program causes you to look at some things in the park that you would take for granted or would normally escape your notice.
As we went through the entrance station we picked up the newsletter that lists all of the Ranger-led programs. There was one scheduled to start about as soon as we arrived, so I dropped off Pat and the girls so they could attend the program while I parked the truck.
We hiked the Skyline Trail to see the park up close. The first half was almost all uphill, but offered awesome views of Mount Rainer and the Nisqually Glacier. Along the way we stopped to see marmots and chipmunks. The girls thought it was really unique to see snow on the ground in August and had to play on it.
There is a big emphasis to keep all hikers on the designated trails. There are volunteers hiking the trail to assist hikers and encourage them to stay on the trails. One gave the girls buttons saying, “Don’t be a meadow stomper.” It’s a shame, but even with all of the warnings we often saw hikers straying off the trail. Mount Rainer and other National Parks are wilderness areas. The parks allow millions of visitors to experience this wilderness by containing the destruction caused by all of these visitors to a confined area.
We stopped for the lunch we had packed at Panorama Point. The view was amazing. There was a large snowfield where we watched a group of hikers learning how to hike on ice and snow. The chipmunks in the area obviously know where everyone stops to eat, they were all around us hoping we would drop something.
The last half of the hike was on the reverse slope and the view changed from rocky slopes to grassy alpine meadow. There were several streams with waterfalls running through the meadow, fed from the melting glaciers. The girls splashed water on themselves to cool off. We saw one group soaking their feet in a stream, but it was getting late, so we didn’t join them.
When we arrived at the Paradise Visitor Center they girls finished up their workbooks. After they were reviewed by a Ranger, they were sworn in as Junior Rangers for Mount Rainer National Park.