Mt Rainier

After planning and planning and more planning and finally getting sick of planning, I decided to stop planning and just drive down to Mt Rainier. Sometimes a start works wonders, and my cousin and his wife decided to join me and we extended the trip by one day, camping there overnight.
Starting early Saturday morning, we reached there just around noon, Mt Rainier being a 2.5 hour drive from my place. It was a tad cloudy making me just the tad worried if it was the right choice of weekend to go there. Found a camping spot and put up tent and headed to Paradise, a place where there were some trails to follow to view different glaciers. Oddly Mt Rainier itself stayed invisible although we were just a few miles close to a 10000 ft peak and at an altitude of 3.5K ft ourselves.

From Paradise we took the Nisqually glacier trail which was still snowed out in August, making for a slippery journey with me worried about my camera all the time. The glacier itself remained hidden by clouds and couldn’t get as good a view as I would have desired.

Next place was Narada falls. No clue why it got such an interesting name! The falls were OK, but were in no mood to go all the way to the bottom. We continued driving to a place called Reflection Lakes. On the way we kept stopping at different viewpoints to take in the vistas and get some good shots. Came across an interesting and beautiful blue bird which was brave enough to stand 4-5 ft from me looking curiously at my cam as I clicked away. Got some really awesome snaps of that one.

The Reflection Lakes turned out to be a disappointment as we couldn’t figure out what it reflected. There were just clouds all over the place. and the water just looked gray.

Next morning, I woke up at 3:30 AM and got everyone up. Plan was to drive down to Sunrise Point for Sunrise which was to be at 5:45 AM. By the time we started it was already 4:30 and Sunrise was some 50 odd miles away and the drive was through tortuous mountain roads and I realized I’d never make it in time. As disappointment slowly started seeping in, we had just reached the Reflection Lakes as we saw many people lined up with tripods and cams. Looking up, the sight of Mt Rainier which wasn’t to be seen the previous day, towering above the lakes was astounding. Of course, now it was clear why the lakes were called ‘Reflection Lakes’. Continuing to drive as we reached the next lake, we decided to stop there and catch the Sunrise from that point as there was no hope of making it to Sunrise Pt which was still some 40 odd miles away and we had just over 20 minutes to reach there.

It was freaking cold as we stepped out of the car. There was just one lone man standing at that place with a massive SLR mounted on a tripod. The next 20 minutes I stood there shivering and taking in the sight of sunrise on Mt Rainier. The Sun rose at 5:45 AM forming a red ring on top of the snow-covered mountain, almost like a crown. The pics, although stunning, hardly do any justice to the sight. Its something you need to be there to experience, the sight of the first rays of the Sun hitting a snow-capped mountain – the redness with its golden glow that lasts for the first few minutes before the Sun grows in harshness and the snow glows a glaring white.

After Sunrise we drove over to Sunrise point which had stunning views of surrounding peaks all the way to Mt Adam. Tried taking a short walk up a trail but couldn’t find much interesting.
Soon after we drove back in a renewed cloud cover reaching by 10:30 AM. It was almost like a Darshanam at Guruvayoor, waking up early for it and getting a good one before the crowds milled in.

All in all, an amazing trip with the sunrise the definite highlight of the trip. Rest of the snaps here.

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