September Travels {Snow Lake, Mt. Rainier National Park}

If it were up to me, I’d probably be at this mountain every single weekend that it was open. It’s just far enough away though, that I somehow manage to make it there about one weekend a year. Not good enough. That said, every time has been magical. I think it’s topped my most magical location list. There are a bunch of places in the PNW that ‘wow’ me and take my breath away, and that I would consider downright magical even, but I don’t think any of them will top Rainier. There is something stunning about this mountain.
IMG_1734 The mountain and I actually have a little inside communication. Every time I see him I say, ‘hello darling!’ like I was River Song or something, and the Mountain were the time Lord. I don’t know, but it’s our thing.
IMG_0009I started my pilgrimage early. At dawn, and so I manged to catch the balloon goers on the way. They were actually landing so close to the highway, I thought they might actually land ON the highway. There was a patrol car on the side of the road, and I kinda feel like he was there in case that became a reality. Still, balloons are pretty magical too. Not mount Rainier magical, but pretty magical. IMG_1846 I love mountain roads. I’m totally a cowardly lion, so they usually make me nervous, and I drive like a much-older-than-I-actually-am lady, but I still love them. And as a happy bonus, when I arrived at the Park, it was National lands day? or National Park day? I’m not sure, but it was FREE day. And that was real exciting. I’d totally pay the $15 to get into the park, but who doesn’t love FREE? IMG_1758 I picked out a lake on the map the night before. It was a stab in the dark really. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but it was a pretty short hike so I decided if it wasn’t great, I wouldn’t have that much invested into it. I don’t know what I was thinking…it’s Mount Rainier… it’s all great. (Well there was this one trail that I got on, one day, and it was up hill for three hours straight with nothing but old growth forest…which as magical as those are? After you’ve been hiking alone, up-hill, in the quiet, dark, woods, for three hours? That’s enough to finish most of the stoutest of outdoor types off…so I turned back. Weary, and ready to sleep forever…but that was just one time. And it was still ‘kinda’ great…miserable…but great.) ANYWAY. Snow Lake. It didn’t disappoint. IMG_0035 Most of the hike is through alpine meadows. It’s about 1.1 miles to the lake, a lot of uphill and down hill (i.e. you work for it) but it’s short and very doable. And SOOOOO beautiful. The morning was clear, so I made a lot of this face. IMG_0023 Because what other face can you make when you turn around to this…and then look another direction and it’s still… THIS! Seriously. There isn’t another face to make. IMG_1826 And then there was the lake: Snow Lake looks like this. IMG_0063 No really. It’s that amazing. It’s emerald in most of the light, and then it’s sapphire in other light, and it’s take-your-breath-away gorgeous in all the lights. IMG_0037 Yes. Here I am, triumphant… trying to get a less ‘selfie’ kind of ‘selfie’ and it’s not easy. I’m just going to say that much. But…I tried. I looked ridiculous I’m sure. But I tried. IMG_0050 There was also this beautiful meadow at the far end of the lake where I set and snacked. Additionally, I hiked an extra .1 mile to find what the sign said was a ‘toilet.’ And it turned out that was all it was… just a nice, lone, throne, on top of a hill.IMG_1815 I’ve seen my share of thrones before, but this one had the best view of any of them. IMG_1832 Afterwords, I drove up to Paradise, and pondered my life in the visitor center cafe. We are blessed to be here, said a lady on the trail. IMG_1787 Yes we are.  And finally, it should be noted that I found the biggest mushroom in the wild, that I’ve ever seen…seriously. IMG_0066 It was huge. Bigger than my phone huge.  Does it get any more magical than that?  I don’t think it does. Can’t wait till I get back to you darling. Hopefully it will be again, before we’ve made another trip around the sun.