Best. Summer. Ever. – Episode 15: Rainier redux

We had such fun the first time we went to Rainier this year that we decided to go back and spend a night there in October when the fall colors rise up into the leaves of the meadow shrubs and the sky is achingly blue. That way we could take our sweet unhurried time getting there and also enjoy a morning, when both we and the mountain were fresh. We stayed at the National Park Inn at Longmire, one of the old lodges in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s not one of the ones up high — those are Paradise and Sunrise. Longmire is down in the forest along the Nisqually River, a half dozen miles in from the park’s Nisqually entrance.

The bridge at Myrtle Falls.

The bridge at Myrtle Falls.

Onward and upward.

Onward and upward.

We had a small room with uncomfortable old beds, but that didn’t matter. The girls were enchanted, by our room upstairs and by the guests-only fireplace room on the main floor, which had puzzles and games and a roaring fire. (Don’t eat at the restaurant in the lodge. The food was okay, I thought — Angela thought not — and we were grateful for it because we stayed on the mountain until dark the first night and our dinner options became swiftly negligible, but it was expensive and took so long to come out that our daughters nearly expired before it arrived before us. And then the girls couldn’t eat the mac and cheese, it smelled and tasted so bizarre. Later a friend told me that the National Parks contract their food services out to one giant corporation, which, if true, explains everything.) We drove up to visitor center at Paradise the first evening after dumping our gear at the lodge and climbed up part way to the Glacier Vista lookout. Angela had some kind of conversion experience up there by herself, when I hung back with the girls because it was getting dark and very cold, and almost all the other park visitors had retreated from the mountainside and Angela wanted to press on (so unlike her to get the trail-crazies, and so unlike me to be realistic and conservative when hiking), and she did press on, and she bonded somehow with the universe up there in the near dark, and came down sort of glowing.

Angela near Alta Vista.

Angela near Alta Vista, still aglow after her alien abduction, or whatever it was, the evening before.

The National Park Inn at Longmire.

Sleep but don’t eat. The National Park Inn at Longmire. Photo by Angela.

The next day was even magicaler. In the morning we returned to Paradise and hiked all the way up to Glacier Vista via the Alta Vista and Skyline trails, which was 916 feet of elevation (from 5420 to 6336 feet) for my little girls, who were troopers about such a big, hot climb. We saw marmots sunning on the rocks and a family of ptarmigans fluttering under a tree on the way down. And that pretty much caps our tour of the Best. Summer. Ever. It had truly been a wonderful extended summer of little escapades, one I will always cherish and I think the girls will, too. We got to know our mountain, our region, our family tribe, and each other a little better through these often impromptu weekend adventures. I hope you enjoyed riding along.

The bluest skies you've ever seen are near Seattle.

The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are near Seattle.

On the Alta Vista trail.

On the Alta Vista trail.

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5 Responses to “Best. Summer. Ever. – Episode 15: Rainier redux”


  1. 1 marni December 13, 2014 at 21:57

    I’ve enjoyed every entry about your Best. Summer. Ever.! Thank you for sharing your stories and pictures.

    • 2 Matt December 13, 2014 at 23:12

      Marni, I was thinking today what an enormous volume of textual content my blog now contains, how no one could ever get through it all. I was talking with a fellow Seattle history nut in the barber shop the other day and he wanted to know how to find my blog. I felt bad giving him the URL. I generally warn people away from it nowadays. I believe you hold the distinction of being the only human besides me who has read every word of it from the beginning. I doubt I could ever come up with one, but you deserve a reward that fits the punishment you’ve endured.

      • 3 marni December 16, 2014 at 21:29

        Yes, it’s been excruciating. Please award me something for my pain and agony. Goofball.

        • 4 James December 23, 2014 at 19:30

          I haven’t read from the beginning, but I think I’ve trawled through the entire archives. Many an interesting and unexpected coelacanth uncovered there, too.

          • 5 Matt December 23, 2014 at 21:09

            James, once again you manage to honor me in the utmost while simultaneously making metaphors look like child’s play. You know, coelacanth is one of those words I’m shy of saying out loud because I developed an entrenched mispronunciation before I ever heard anyone else use the word (same thing happened with ‘egregious’, as you may recall). I still feel a compulsion to say it my own way.


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