Most of the year I had moments during which I told myself it was time to go to Mt. Rainier. I’d get excited but then something would take that spark away and I wouldn’t go. Spring went by, the wildflowers of summer, and the brief brilliance of autumn. Mind you I’m no stranger to the park. I used to go there 10-15 times per year for a good 15 years. Then I stopped. A lot changed for me, around me and in me.
And so for three years I didn’t make a single visit. At times I missed being there and at times I felt helplessly indifferent. But that desire to travel came back and I actually grabbed my camera, some extra clothing, got into my vehicle and drove south to the park. It wasn’t particularly a nice day; heavy overcast with passing rain storms. It looked worse at my destination. But I was ready to go. The closer I was getting the higher my excitement grew. And yeah, I was excited about my excitement!
Ancient forest in the rain, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington
At the entrance gate I knew I messed up for not coming here for so long. I got the annual pass. As I entered the park the drizzle was still coming down, but it was really trying to stop…or so I told myself. I have passed by the above scene a 100 times or more. I looked but didn’t see. This time it took my breath away. It was wet, lush, gorgeous, so much so I had a few tears of absolute joy. I looked for a while before setting up my camera, simply absorbing the scene, while big drips of rain from the branches above fell on me and all around…just perfect.
As I continued through the park, via Longmire, climbing in elevation, the landscape looked so new yet I had witnessed it on so many occasions over the years that it was recognizable. I guess it is like aromas that are familiar to us from childhood, forgotten for years, and once inhaled again feel as new as yesterday.
Edge of Stevens Canyon, drenched in mysterious fog, Mt. Rainier | Washington
With the climbing elevation the rain increased to downpour strength. I wasn’t going to see the mountain up close today but that’s just fine, I love the forests for all the various trees, the shrubs, the lakes, the valleys. Heavy rain and fog in Paradise. I was bummed that the park closed the Paradise Valley Road even though the snow had not come and some remnants of autumn still adorned the landscape. I was overjoyed to see some remaining color despite the fact I was here nearly a month past the usual peak.
I stopped at Reflection Lake and set up a couple compositions in a sideways downpour. Maybe not the most romantic thing to be setting up a large camera with one hand and holding an umbrella with the other. But when you love the craft, such things don’t really matter.
Arriving at the western edge of Stevens Canyon the fog thickened and the rain really did stop. In the above photo I loved the shrubby vine maples (among my favorite “trees”) with autumn color and the layers of silent conifers. I filled my lungs with deep and sweet breaths of wet mountain air….
Stevens Canyon with lifting fog, autumn, Mt. Rainier NP | Washington
The fog began to lift and break up revealing secrets of the gorgeous Stevens Canyon. I was thrilled to make another composition. I was able to take in the sight for a few more minutes before the vail of fog returned thicker than ever hiding the glorious landscape…rain began pelting the landscape once again.
The rest of my journey was in the rain. I was filled with peace, however, knowing I had been blessed by God. There was much to be thankful for and much to contemplate.