Highs and Lows

As noted previously, I don’t expect to be able to actually convey Mt Rainier to my readers, but I would be remiss if I didn’t try to capture some sense of the scale of the mountain, a sense that is immediately transmitted to anyone who starts out to hike by their legs.

The trail behind the lodge begins here, and it doesn’t take long before you realize just how high this mountain really is even at here below tree line. The trail is not for the faint-of-heart, as this beginning stretch clearly announces.

Trail from Paradise

Once you reach the first ridge line, all it takes is a quick glance up to realize that you’ve really just begun to climb,

Looking up at Rocks Above

and a quick glimpse across the valley shows just how formidable this mountain really is,


dwarfing those who hike it,

Hiker in Valley Below

like this unknown hiker in the valley below as seen through my telephoto lens.

A Return to Mt. Rainier

Last Friday we took Leslie’s brother and sister-in-law to see Mt Rainier for the first time, and I performed my, nearly, annual attempt to accomplish the impossible, to capture the majesty of this mountain through a camera lens, a telephoto lens at that.

Here’s our first real glimpse of the mountain as we approached Sunrise, Leslie’s favorite approach to the mountain

Rainier from road to Sunrise

because it gives her the feeling of being on the mountain, or at least the feeling that you’re always in the mountain’s presence:

Rainier from Sunrise trail

Even though I prefer the more traditional southwestern approach from Paradise Park, I don’t mind starting from the northeast side and circling the mountain to get shots from several different angles,

Mt. Rainier

though I found it rather disorienting seeing the mountain from so many different angles.

Mt. Rainier from the South

as I’m not used to wondering which way is north and which south?

Of course all these look better on my large Cinema screen, but the real frustration is in trying to get correct exposure for the whole photograph, and trying to photomerge shots where the exposure is different.

I’m going to have to drag my tripod to the top of the mountain and shoot some shots with High Dynamic Pro so I can get the best possible exposure in the snow and the trees even though I have no illusion that you can ever capture anything as magnificent as Mt. Rainier on the page.

No, all I really hope to do is drop crumbs that will lead you to your own experience of the mountain.

Nearly Home Again

I found out a year ago that two days wasn’t long enough to do this loop justice, but I found out this time that three days isn’t long enough to do it justice, either. Of course, I was in a bit of a rush knowing that my new iPhone 3Gs was waiting to be picked up before 7:00 PM. So after I spent as much time as I wanted in Toppenish, I headed across the mountains for home.

I should have taken Chinook Pass, but White Pass is much faster and has less traffic, so I took that route home. It is still an absolutely breathtaking drive, one that deserves much larger photos than these to convey the sense of height and depth of the pass.

Here’ a look back at Yakima just as I neared the pass:

Looking Back at Yakima

Unfortunately, the haze from the fire that had burned over hundreds of acres for three days makes it difficult to appreciate the layer after layer of mountains that make up the Cascades.

And while this photo offers a glimpse of Clear Creek Falls, it cannot capture the remarkable height of the waterfall:

Clear Creek Falls

Of course, the constant highlight of the drive is the ever-present Mt. Rainier, seen here from the south-east.

Mount Rainer from the South East

This may not be heaven, but it’s as close as I expect to get in this lifetime.

Sunrise at Mt.Rainier

Since Leslie had yesterday off we decided to go to Mt. Rainier. Naturally it was unusually cloudy when we left and it appeared questionable if we’d even be able to see the mountain, much less get a picture of it. Leslie wanted to go to Sunrise, though I would have preferred to go to the main park entrance. It turned out to be the right choice as the clouds seemed to part just as we entered the park entrance.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Mountain from Sunrise before but it certainly offers some close-up views of the mountain.

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it always does when I find glaciers

meeting flowers, competing to cover more ground than the other

and you wonder if the orange butterflies

were painted with orange Indian Paintbrush.