Mount Rainier

Tuesday August 30th

Woke up to a wonderful breakfast of waffles, maple syrup, sausage meat and egg - delicious. Our plan today is to loop around Mount Rainier, the guide books (AKA google) show some wonderful shots of a snow capped peak even in mid summer.

Set the sat nav and blindly follow wherever it points. There isn't a direct route but we stayed on reasonable roads for half the way heading south until we turned more inland and started climbing. It's a couple of hours before we stop at the last garage before the park to top up with petrol, sorry gas, and look at the souveniers, I pick up some sunglasses but only because I didn't bring any with me, though they are more stylish than anything I've owned before.

We should be able to see the mountain from here but the cloud is really low, so we hope it clears by the afternoon.

The Summer Remnants

Entering the park we start climbing and winding up the side of the mountain, there are a numerous viewing points over the river on our right. In Spring this must be a torrent given the width and debris, but now it's just a wide expanse of boulders and trees wrenched from the riverbank.

I clambered down the bank and scrambled around whilst mum stayed in the car overlooking the view



Further up we stopped again, this time there was a small path slightly cleared to the river where a temporary bridge spanned it. The river although small was still flowing fast so youd be swept away very quickly. Luckily if you happened to fall of to the right there was a rail.

Unfortunately the path started out with some very steep drops down the bank which were just too much for Mum's hips so yet again she had to stay at the edge.

Climbing on up we came across a waterfall area with lots of cars parked so we knew this must be worth stopping at. This was probably just a tributary but it was still an impressive set of falls, a viewing path clung to the far side going down. This time Mum came down for the view to a spray soaked area, down is fine it's only going back up that she has problems.


This waterfall probably had a name


The road wound round and round getting ever closer to the fog

Nearing the fog line

All we saw of Mount Rainier

Yes there was snow

We weren't really sure where we were heading now or what there was to see so we just kept on going upwards into the fog line. There was not a lot to see for 10 minutes or so when a large lodge and packed car park loomed out of the mist. Civilisation, or at least a loo break. It turned out to be the starting point for all the mountain treks and there was a cafe, shop and museum with warmth and light.

Time for lunch. Mum had soup whilst I gorged a pizza then we trooped upstairs to the National Trust (or equivalent) shop and an exhibition. The quality was better than the NT but the proces were high. I almost bought a snug blanket with a bear motif, large and warm for the winter nights but just too exepnsive. I ended up with a T shirt for David.

Walking back to the car Mum realised she'd left her camera somewhere so we searched the complete lodge for 10 minutes, eventually we discovered it had been handed in to the help desk so the disaster was averted.

As we set off again we realised that we were heading back downhll again, the lodge had been the top so we failed to climb out of the mist. So much for Mount Rainier.

Back down in the sunlight and heat we came across a short gorge walk where we wandered ammlessly for 20 minutes soaking up the sun after the clammy mist.

Gorge walk

We drove slowly around the top of the mountain heading downwards all the time, there was between 10 and 20 miles of a continuous down slope, great for cycling .

We pulled into a cafe for a coffee at about 4pm but between stopping the car and walking up to the door they had put the closed sign up and there were no towns for another 1/2 hour so we were going to be thirsty.

We eventually arrived in a smartish small town ( the places were made of brick not wood) so we stopped opposite a diner and stayed for a shake.

We trapsed around the town for 10 minutes during which we covered the whole place. Having discovered the inability to charge the camera or computer we popped into a computer store who didn't have a UK - US converter as US people buy them the other way around, however they pointed out that the transformer leads could be replaced with US versions. They didn't have quite the right versions in store so pointed us to a radio shack a few miles away

We located the shopping mall but the Radio Shack had been turned into a hair stylist some years earlier. The next option was best buy just around the corner (which turned out to be about a mile, so it was fortunate we did the US option of driving across the car park)

Mum wen hunting for slippers while I perused the gadget seaction unsuccessfully. 20 minutes later Mum had still not come back so I circled the complete store 3 times before reverting to the last seen spot at the gadget desk. I then bought a new mouse for Chris's computer as I was fed up of the trackpad. Another 10 minutes and still no Mum, I looked just outside (surely not as she taught me to always return to the last known spot ) but no deal, more time passed so I headed back to the car to find Mum walking back to the store, she'd been outside all the time...

By the time we got home it was quite dark; we snacked on bits we'd bought but neither of us was hungry enough to eat out. I found a local Radio shack and the landlady phoned them for me to confirm they had what I needed. Evelyn gave me complex directions but made it sound only a mile or two away so I set off straight away trying to remember what she had said about the awkward method of getting to the shop entrance. After 5 miles I realised that I hadn't brought the sat nav, things looked diffferent in the dark and I was no longer sure whether I had missed it and was driving on forever. Turning around I managed to find the correct turning back to the B&B which I barely recognised coming from a new direction and in the dark. There I grabbed the sat nav and set off out again letting the sat nav do the work. At the turning point (I had been within 1/2 mile previously) it doubled me around through some narrow private road through a condo block's parking lot to turn me around to the other side of the road. There was no way I'd have done that without it, I'd have been left being able to see the shop and never reach it.

Success, they had exactly what I needed so everything got charged that night.