Today we headed off to Paradise (at Mount Rainier) in search of snow! It was a little concerning that there was still no sign of snow at the park entrance – a couple years ago when we headed up in the winter, we hit snow before we even got to the national park entrance. There’s still not enough snowpack for sledding at Paradise, but since we brought snowshoes – not sleds – that was just fine! Between iffy weather (“wintry mix”), no sledding, and a playoff football game today, it wasn’t crowded at all! I had taken my “big camera” – my DSLR – but it was raining/snowing and I didn’t want to get it wet, so all of the photos from today’s adventure were from my little Canon PowerShot (point-and-shoot).
(Click on any of the photos to view them full size)
Paradise Inn wasn’t nearly as buried in snow as it has been other winters we’ve headed up there to do some snowshoeing. It still looks a little eerie, and other winters when it’s really buried it looks like it’s something straight out of The Shining. Creepy! It closes down for the winter, but we’ve seen the interior in the summer and it looks pretty cool.
I’m not sure what the temperature was today, other than really cold! We were both bundled up pretty good (hooray for smartwool long underwear!), but every time I tried to pull my scarf up over my nose and mouth for warmth, my sunglasses fogged up.
I was half tempted to take my snowshoes off while we were out trekking around to see how deep I’d sink in the snow without them, but they’re a little hard to get off and on again, and I wasn’t about to freeze my fingers off messing with icy snowshoe straps! Stomping around in the snow with snowshoes on is kind of hard work (especially combined with being horribly out of shape, and at 5400 feet elevation), but this time I managed to keep from tripping on my own snowshoes. It was fun getting out and getting moving, in the fresh, cold air. The trees were beautiful all covered in snow, and the only sounds were the snow crunching under our feet (and my nearly constant chatter).
We came across a footbridge that had at least a foot and a half of snow packed on top of it with a creek running under. It was just barely wide enough for a pair of snowshoes to fit side-by-side, and a strong wind blowing across it. Destin was brave enough to go across it, but after seeing the snow eroded out on the sides, combined with my lack of balance, my brain refused to let my feet get more than a few steps onto it!
In another game of “good idea, bad idea,” Destin made it all the way across and back… twice. The first time was to investigate, and the second time was to come retrieve my camera, since I had chickened out going across it and he wanted to take a couple of photos. I may have been able to manage it without the cross wind, but even that would have been questionable!
After we got done playing in the snow, we headed into the visitor center to see if there was anything we couldn’t live without (there wasn’t), and for some lunch. Then back down the mountain, with a detour at a waterfall we’d seen on our way up, and found the “Christine Falls” we’d seen drawings of on post cards in the gift shop. From the road, you could see a few waterfalls to one side of the bridge, right next to the road.
This fall was easiest to see from the road, but it got so much cooler when we parked and got out to poke around.
This picture doesn’t do it justice… it was so cool seeing the water coming down several falls, and the way it had carved out the rock as it made a few turns. For the final drop, the water seemed to have carved out a straight column under the bridge, down into the rock before continuing on as a stream.
Once we went down a trail to see the bridge and falls from the side rather than above, the view was great! I hope we can make it back up to Paradise again this winter before the snow is gone, especially if we can find a clear day where we can enjoy more of the view. I’d also love to try to make it back up there during snow melt in the spring when the rivers are running really full – I’ll bet the falls are pretty spectacular, and we could tell from how the streams looked that they must be really impressive when they’re full.