Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Wildflower Wednesday: Mount Rainier's Delights

I've wanted to join in Gail's monthly meme for a while, so I'm happy that after our recent reunion in Seattle, the roadtrip NAH and I subsequently took provided the perfect material to do so. Firstly a little scene setting...

Mount Rainier is Washington State's highest mountain at 14,411 feet (4,392m) high and its image is found everywhere, even on car number plates. On a good day in Seattle [and we were told these are very few each year - Ed], it can be seen in the city even though it's over 50 miles away. There was much excitement on our coach on my first Fling morning after Gail cried out: oh look at the mountain, it's come out to play.

In the afternoon, I was also excited when I turned round at the Olympic Sculpture Park to find it posing right at the end of the path ahead (see photo at the top of this post). Now it just so happens that my Persuasion emails to NAH included a trip to find Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad. NAH has much more to tell about this part of our journey: suffice to say we not only found ourselves at the railroad - and staying in a fab converted caboose the first night - we liked the area so much we stayed an extra day and had the above view from the lakeside swingseat of our historic home lodging in the tiny town of Mineral.

The next day we headed for Paradise, one of the visitor centres in the heart of the National Park and on Mount Rainier itself. Spring has come very late to this area this year: the highest mountain road only opened a week before our arrival in July. As we climbed up the mountain there were plenty of opportunities to take photos of breathtaking views. At one stop I was struck by the scent of meadowsweet and the tiny flowers dotting the roadside.

On reaching Paradise, there was a wildflower walk advertised with one of the park rangers. However, the late spring meant there was very little to see at around 5,000 feet, so the walk was cut rather short. Instead here's a picture of NAH in the snow.


It's a shame the park ranger couldn't do his walk a thousand feet or so below Paradise, because below the snowline, the sub-alpine meadows could be seen in all their glory. I spotted the wild versions of my garden's Mimulus and Penstemon as well as a much fluffier one of our clover on the roadside verges as we descended the mountain.

And then we stopped at Reflection Lake, only to find it was too late to take the traditional photo of the mountain as the breeze was disturbing the water too much. I turned round to find the entire roadside was covered in Erythronium. Now I understand why Keith Wiley fell in love with this genus when he saw them in the wild. I wish we could have spent longer on the mountain, so we could have hiked away from the road and immersed ourselves in the meadows. But then we would have had to miss out on other highlights of our journey.

I have a couple of other wildflower posts to come, though I think they'll probably get posted before next month's Wildflower Wednesday. In the meantime, why not have a look at what Gail and friends have to say today?

11 comments:

  1. Very beautiful - such wonderful scenery it must make your heart soar. You can see the clarity of the air too, everything has a crystal glimmer. Just lovely.

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  2. It did indeed make our hearts soar, Zoe :) NAH and I always enjoy setting out to discover 'small town America'. Elbe (the place with the caboose hotel) is probably the smallest we've found so far with its population of 37 or 39, depending on who you talked to ;)

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  3. Captivating and beautiful photos of the mountain...I feel honored that we got to see it and so delighted we got to spend time together. Tell NAH that there's a wonderful hotel in Chattanooga, TN that he might like! Thanks for the likluv to WW! xxoogail

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  4. What beautiful photos, VP! I'm glad you got to take this side trip to Mount Rainier; I've never been there and am so glad you shared this with us. Doesn't it seem funny that you and NAH could enjoy snow and wildflowers all in one day? An amazing place.

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  5. How fabulous to see familiar flowers growing in the wild. Strange though seeing all that snow and NAH in a t shirt - methinks he must be a hardy perennial :)

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  6. I saw mount Ranier when I was to Seattle, so must have had an exceptionally clear day. It is such a fabulous place isn't it. The juxtaposition of the city, mountains, flowers, water - everything.

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  7. We're off to Mount Rainier this week to see the wildflowers at Sunrise. Glad "the mountain" was out while you were here :-)

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  8. I've always wanted to visit the Pacific Northwest! And it's always amazing and amusing to me how one can walk around in shirt sleeves with snow in the background!

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  9. How wonderful that you were able to find a good patch of wildflowers. My family and I made a quick day trip to Mt. Rainier too after the Fling and were astonished to find so much snow still on the ground in July. What a beautiful park though. That mountain, those trees!

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  10. How stunning and I love the contrast of elevations! Gorgeous photos!!

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  11. Gail - he knows already. We watched Water for Elephants on the flight home and saw that Chattanooga was credited as one of the locations at the end :)

    Rose - I have a picture of NAH's sandals on the snow ;)

    Anna - he is. Later that day we went to a place that was 97 degrees, but that's another story for later...

    Mark - it is just fab :D

    Kath - I would have loved to have gone to Sunrise, Hope you had a great trip!

    Monica - it was a shame you couldn't come - I want to meet you!

    Pam - your post about your trip is breathtaking :)

    Carol - welcome and thank you!

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