The big white mountain flickered in my peripheral and then was gone. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? There – again. Pieces of its formidable shape could be seen through the trees, reflecting sunlight and causing my eyes to squint. When I finally spotted an overlook labeled “Mt. Rainier Vista Point”, I happily pulled over and quickly followed the short trail to a lookout unobscured by the lush forest.
It was a snow-covered giant, rising up from the ground in a stoic manner. There was an ancient feel to Mt. Rainier, yet it was relatively young compared to many peaks in the surrounding Cascade Range.
I snapped a few pictures.
I studied the mountain.
It felt like something was going to happen, although of what, I am not sure.
I walked much more slowly away from the mountain, a feeling of fullness in my thoughts making my pace more relaxed. It was time to begin my drive to the top – a place appropriately named Paradise. Along the twists and curves that carried me up, I pulled over multiple times. Each perspective of Rainier was different. Sometimes it was framed by clusters of trees, the green color contrasting nicely against the white. Other times, Rainier stood alone in the distance, like a guardian of the park.
The half hour drive took over an hour as I hopped in and out of my car at each pullover. I knew that travel was limited around the park was due to snow, so it was important for me to take advantage of all the places and sights I could access.
Most people visit Mt. Rainier in the summer, when all the roads are clear and the short growing season demonstrates a spectacular show of blooms. Winter lasts long at elevation, allocating visitors to a certain area to experience the mountain.
And experience it, I did.