A Trip To Paradise
When James Longmire’s daughter-in-law, Martha, first saw this site, she exclaimed,”Oh, what a paradise!” This quote pretty much sums up most people’s reaction to this spot on Mt. Rainier.
A trip to Paradise was my second trip up the mountain a couple weeks ago. It was planned as part of a family reunion outing. This part of the mountain is very accessible for people of most skill levels. The paths are mostly paved and not too steep or long yet the vistas are incredible. It is kind of like the I-5 of hiking trails. Traffic on them is quite heavy but manageable and if it gets too crowded it is easy enough to step to the side and just appreciate the view. I was comparing it to a few days earlier on Tolmie Peak where we ran into just four other groups all day.
The meadows at Paradise are larger than what I saw at Tolmie Peak and a bit more diverse. The scale of the meadows against the peaks made the view all that more dramatic. Of course I couldn’t help myself focusing in on single plants. There were huge mixed drifts of Veratrum, Lupine, Penstemon, Pulsatilla and Castilleja. The mix of color was like a Monet painting. I studied how they were woven together and tried to figure out what the soil was like to create this perfect condition. I’m sure there is much more to it. This is also one of the snowiest spots on earth getting over 50 feet a year of snow. These meadows are only snow free for a short period of time so the plants that can survive here have to have a special niche.
I finally had to just step back and stop thinking about the individual pieces (plants) and appreciate the whole. I stopped photographing the plants and just enjoyed being there. Some times I don’t need to know how or why.
Top of the trail
Being at Paradise on a sunny day in August was a treat and having my family along made it just that much more special.
Just above the lodge
Still a little snow
Creeping Phlox and Lupine