Waterfall and Nisqually Trails with Reflection Lake, Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park

     The alarm went off at 6 but I woke up at 5:30am. I packed most the truck and trailer before Robin got out of bed and before we knew it we were on the road…by 8:30. With lattes in hand we picked up I 90 west?! Really…yup, unusual for us, normally we head east. Our first stop was Yakima where we filled up the truck to the tune of 77 buckaroos. From here we continued west along highway 12 and the Naches River.  We followed that (The 12) and everyone else for a ways before reaching the turn off for White Pass. The drive from here on up was awesome, mostly along the Tieton River, one I’ve been wanting to raft for some time, looks like it could be a busy canyon at high water. Before long we reached Rimrock Lake, it was full of white caps, and from what I could see, not one a guy would want to be on without a sail. Eventually we reached White Pass, which had a gas station, strange. At the bottom of the hill we went right along highway 123, and in a few short miles reached the turnoff for the Ohanapecosh Campground. Robin and I found loop E and site 12 and quickly leveled the trailer and began setting up camp just as Eddie, Jessica and the girls arrived.  After all the chores were done Eddie and Jessica cooked a dinner of ribs eye steak and Greek salad, it was awesome, and after a short fire we were on our way to bed.

     The next day we awoke to sunshine and clear skies, this would be our day in Paradise! After Robin and I cooked a breakfast of Ziploc omelets, much better than it sounds,  we were on our way. The drive to Paradise took much longer than it felt as the views along the way got better, and better, the more we climbed. Eventually, we reached the visitor center, where we laced up our boots, shouldered our packs and hit the trail.

     It was too early for wild flowers but the view of Mount Rainier was stunning nonetheless. From the visitor center we hiked north .19 mile to a junction where we went left along the “Waterfall Trail.” We had planned to hike the Alta Vista Trail but with it closed to trail maintenance we were forced to hike west. We gradually gained elevation as the views south toward the Tatoosh range began to grow quite spectacular.  After about .27 miles we reached a snow covered junction with the Deadhorse Creek Trail, not wanting to slip and slide along a steep trail with toddlers in hand we decided to turn left heading south. After a short descent over some snow and an encounter with a strange noise from some wild animal we reached a junction at .30 miles with the Nisqually Vista Trail. After hanging a right we picked up more paved trail and after a couple snow fields and more awesome views of Rainier we found a giant hollowed out rock that the kiddos enjoyed crawling into for pictures, back on the trail we eventually reached a junction with the loop trail where we went left, choosing to hike clockwise toward more open views of the spectacular Tatoosh range.

     All the kids were still in good spirits, I have found that all hikes are greatly appreciated by children if planned to their abilities, one must not be to ambitious!  Eventually we reached an amazing vantage of the Nisqually glacier! What a spectacular view! One is truly rewarded for such an easy walk, geology is happening now as we speak!  And no where is that more evident outside Alaska then on Mount Rainier. We gawked for some time before feeling the need to press on, it was growing late as we had not eaten yet. After finishing the loop we walked a road for a short distance before picking up another trail that angled up hill rather steeply toward the visitor center and the end of our hike. All had a great time exploring the trails around paradise, I can’t wait to get back. After a short stop at the gift shop we made our way to the truck and drove back toward the Ohanapecosh.

     We quickly reached a vista of the mountain at a pull out with an impressive view of an unknown valley where we decided to have lunch. In the distance we could make out Narada Falls, a spectacular setting. We were even greeted by a steller’s jay that entertained our company, nature is amazing. Back in the cars and few more miles down the road we reached Reflection Lake, we decided to pull off and enjoy the area. The views toward the mountain were breathtaking.  We decided to hike the short trail from the lower lake to the upper lake before mounting up and heading back to camp. Back in camp it was our night to cook. I barbecued stuffed pork chops and baked potatoes which set well after a long day on the mountain. After a fire and smores we had the kids off to bed. For a bunch more pictures click the link. Sunrise and Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

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