on November 5, 2012
We arrived on a rather damp evening into Mount Rainier National Park, and headed to Cougar Rock campground. It may have been the end of June, but there were few in the campground, which made it seem so peaceful. Our campsite pitch was under pine trees, and plenty of space around us, with a picnic table. It was a cold damp evening, but unfortunately the wood we bought on the site was damp and didn't burn well at all in the fire pit. The toilet facilties were clean though cold water.Since the night before had been so overcast we hadn't seen Mount Rainier, and got our first glimpse that morning - and we had perfect weather - blue skies and sunshine. Having had breakfast and made picnic lunch we headed off to Longmire, and a hike up along the Rampart Ridge trail. It was a nice hike with some good views over Mount Rainier - much of the walk is through forest, firstly with switchbacks up high which then provided occassional glimpses of incredible scenery, and then down including along a wooden boardwalk and a last section with a path parallel to the road. It was a good loop walk that lead us back to Longmire, and we found a picnic table and enjoyed some lunch.We drove up to Christine Falls and a photo opportunity with the falls throught the bridge, before heading up to Paradise. As we headed higher up the mountain side we saw more and more snow. Then we got up to Paradise and there was some amount of snow. We had a wander into the visitors centre but it didn't impress me, and also seemed really busy. We took photos in the snow and threw a few snowballs.We headed back down to Narada Falls, with most of us planning to hike down from here to our campsite. There was a steep snow covered section down to the viewpoint of the falls. We had checked out about this trail and we told that it was open and hikable. We presumed that as we continued the snow would disappear as we headed lower...well it did for a bit so we decided to continue. But it got much more worse further down. But is was actually one of my favourite hikes - no-one else was on most of the trail other than at the top and bottom. Walking down along the river in the snow was magical - because it was unexpected. Then reaching the bottom crossing the river we had a view up the boulder strewn river valley up to Mount Rainier peak. We headed back to our tents and settled down for the night. I did wish that we had more time at Rainier, but the weather rather prevented that. The wet day before meant we decided to delay our arrival to Rainier, and left quicker too due to the weather - but we got one perfect day! And I want to go back ...but probably later than June to really get to enjoy Paradise without all the snow.
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