Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sunrise, Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier with clouds

Mt. Rainier without clouds

People who live in the shadow of the mountain know that it is elusive and not often seen due to clouds and rain.  When we arrived and started our hike at the Sunrise side of Mt. Rainier National Park it was cloudy and the top of the mountain was obscured.  As the day wore on the clouds dissipated and by the time we started home the mountain was out in all its glory as shown in the photo directly above.

Frozen Lake

Our goals for hiking this day were to first get to Frozen Lake about 1.5 miles, have our lunch and then continue up to the lookout station on Mount Fremont an additional 1.3 miles for a total round trip of 5.6 miles.  The elevation went from 6100 ft at the parking lot to 7200 ft at the lookout.  A number of things prevented me from completing the entire route.  First, I think starting out at 6100 ft when I am used to living at sea level was a contributing factor, the steepness of the trail in places didn’t help either.  I have been trying to overcome a fear of heights but once vertigo set in when the trees thinned out, the narrow trail and drop off made it impossible for me to look anywhere except straight ahead (discouraging as the trail kept climbing up) or at the cliff wall side where the flowers were growing and my camera kept coming up for more and more photos. 

Beautiful views from the trail

These meadows are filled with flowers that cannot be seen at this distance.  Phantom Lake is visible in the photo at the center back.  It was taking us an hour to hike one mile (very slow) and with 1/3 mile and about 100 feet of elevation left to go at 4 pm and then an approximately 4 hour return hike it would have been 8 pm before we got back to the car; a little too late and me way too tired.  We decided to turn around and go back instead of continuing.  It was disappointing especially because we could see the lookout but it was the right decision.  It is easy to make mistakes and have accidents when fatigue sets in and that would have been worse than not making the summit.  We can try again another day.

Mount Fremont lookout 

We saw mountain goats. There are nine goats shown but the entire group totaled a dozen including at least two babies.

There were lots of chipmunks.  One taking a dust bath posed long enough to get a good close up.

A pica perched on a rock scurried quickly away but not before his picture was captured.  They live in or near the rocks and I have heard these little animals whistling but never seen one before.

This is the time of year when the alpine flowers start to really bloom and fill the meadows.  It was difficult to walk even a few feet without seeing something that was begging to have a picture taken.  Below are just a few of the many flowers we saw.

Pasqueflower comes up right after the snow melts and is only seen if one happens to be at the right place at the right time.  We saw several clumps of these flowers blooming and also in its seedhead stage.

Pasqueflower seedhead also sometimes called a mop head or old man on a stick.

Beautiful, delicate, tiny glacier lilies were blooming in a very few places beside the trail.

Fanleaf Cinquefoil or native buttercup was everywhere

Spreading Phlox—this one is lavender colored but we saw the color range from white to pink and blue.

Magenta Paintbrush

Orange Indian Paintbrush and Lupine came in dwarf or miniature varieties as well.

The leaves of the dwarf Lupine are edged with white and are as pretty as the flowers.

Penstemon came in different colors also--purple above, pink below.

This one is called Pussytoes.

Jacob’s ladder

Western Smelowskia--It grows at high elevations and blooms between May and August.

Western Wallflower

Sitka Valerian



Beargrass and Indian Paintbrush

If the weather holds we plan to return to the park next week to the Paradise or Longmire area and look for more wildflowers.


  1. Beautiful pictures! Thanks so much for posting the names of each of the flowers, too. It's so fun to learn what they are. (I had never seen a pica, either. ) We were at Paradise this last Saturday and the meadows were also stunningly beautiful, bathed in wildflowers. You will not be disappointed next week!

    1. So glad you liked the photos. Thanks for looking at the blog.