Mount Rainier III (the end)   3 comments

Mount Rainier in Washington state.

My last destination at Mount Rainier National Park was Mowich Lake, on the mountain’s northwest side.  Here you’ll find my idea of the perfect photo opportunity in this park, a little slice of alpine heaven called Eunice Lake.  I had never been here before, strangely enough.  You’ll need to travel around the mountain, through the town of Enumclaw, and up a washboard gravel road to Mowich Lake.  Paying your entry fee ($15 per car for 7 days) is on an honor system here.  At Mowich you can sleep at a simple walk-in campsite.  Plenty of people come here, since it is on the Seattle side of the mountain, but 95% of them hike up to Spray Park, leaving Eunice Lake in the opposite direction relatively people-free.

It’s understandable why people flock to Spray Park.  It’s a beautiful area with flower meadows that is not a great distance from the trailhead (3-4 miles).  Spray Falls along this route (and pictured below) is well worth seeing too.  It is big, and has an interesting shape as it skims down a cliff face.  So it’s worth hiking up to Spray Park and beyond if you have energy.  You can even make a large loop out to Mystic Lake, returning via the Wonderland Trail to Mowich Lk.

Spray Falls at Mount Rainier National Park.

I did the Spray Park hike, but when I returned to Mowich I headed up to Eunice Lake, only 2+ miles away, for sunset.  The extra hiking piled onto a week of hiking was worth it.  What a gorgeous place!  An alpine lake of great clarity, Eunice is surrounded by open forest of small spruce and subalpine fir on three sides, with a steep talus slope and cliff below Tolmie Peak on the other side.  What makes it special is its position in relation to Rainier.  If you scramble around the lake to the other side (from the trail), you can look right back onto Rainier’s spectacular NW face.  It’s framed by the lake and its trees, and rises dramatically.  The sun is setting largely behind you, and so alpenglow at sunset is guaranteed.  That is, if the clouds do not drape the mountain too heavily like they did when I hiked up there.

For a few seconds, only the very summit cleared, enough to give me an idea of the kind of picture this spot could yield.  After sunset the mountain came happily out in the clear (of course).  But the light was gone by then.  Hiking back, pictureless in the dark (but with my headlamp this time), I resolved to return here.  I’ll try for when the air is clear yet there are a some clouds around, and (this is really stretching it) no wind.  If all these things line up, I’ll have a “to-die-for” image of of a beautiful ice-capped mountain reflected in a pristine alpine lake.  I know it could very well be much better than anything I saw in the visitor center, shot by pro photographers.  And I will get it.  I’m the right kind of persistent for the job.

So that’s my trip to Rainier.  The Cascade Mountains have other places with gorgeous wildflower meadows (Bird Creek Meadows at Mt Adams, for e.g.), but Rainier has by far the Cascades’ most extensive and diverse such scenery.  Combine that with great hiking, a world-class alpine climb, and fine wildlife sightings, and you have one of our country’s best national parks.  To close, here’s my favorite picture of the trip.  Thanks for reading!

The west face of Rainier is reflected in a pond at Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground.

3 responses to “Mount Rainier III (the end)

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  1. Amazing Photography … God could not have done it better.

  2. Reminded me again of how beautiful the mountains are.

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