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?