Paradise - Glacier Vista

Stagnant air in the lowlands. Sunshine above the inversion level. Time to head to the mountains. First trip with Elena. She lives in Tacoma so we decided to head south and meet in Puyallup. From the South Hill Mall it was straight south to Highway 7 then east to Mt. Rainier National Park. Every trip seems to have more traffic lights along Highway 161 south of Puyallup. I counted about 20. There was no snow to the park entrance and a few miles beyond. From Longmire to Paradise there was snow on the sides and a mix of packed snow/ice and some bare road. Enough ice to keep me at or below the speed limit. It was almost noon when we started out. We did take a short visit to the new visitors center. It was not there on my last visit five years ago.

The parking lot was not full. Considering the low clouds most of the way up and the completely clear blue sky at Paradise I was surprised to not see more people. On previous winter visits I have always gone down the road to Reflection Lake and/or Mazama Ridge. Heading into the shade did not have much appeal. I had not seen the sun in a week back in Seattle. Tracks led out of Paradise in many directions. The snow was hard packed. We started out without snowshoes.

I expect we could have hiked much of the day in boots. Well, Elena could have. If I stepped a foot off the hard pack I sank in 6-8 inches. Snowshoes were now needed. The telemetry showed about 4 1/2 feet of snow and that was about right. Enough to cover the ground but not much by Paradise standards. In places the wind had blown the snow away and some rocks still showed through. Never having been on the route to Glacier Vista in winter it was all new to me. Hard to go wrong as the way forced us up between a drop to the glacier on the left and the steep climb to Panorama Point on our right. There were many skiers out. More than on snowshoes.

The sunshine, blue sky, and bright white snow made for great views. As we climbed Mt. Adams and Mt St. Helens came into sight. Really fantastic views. Elena is a good skier but had limited experience on snowshoes. Progress was slower but we had lots of time for our short trip. We reached Glacier Vista and the views were the best of the day. We could see folks up on Panorama Point and far below us. The view was very light all day making the cold temperature very comfortable.

Below us we could see low clouds creeping up the valley. They were already beyond Longmire and not far from Paradise. It was destined to be a dark ride home. In the mean time we were in no hurry to head back. Leaving the sunshine to go back to the smoggy city was not something we were looking forward to. Our trip down was slow as we took advantage of the changing lighting to take more photos. It was 4:00 pm where we reached the parking lot. The lighting on the mountain was really nice. By 4:30 we headed down just before dark. It was a long dark drive back to Seattle.

This was a great early winter trip Technically still fall though the snow made it look and feel like winter. Getting out from under the inversion in town was great. The inversion also trapped the smog leaving the mountains crystal clear. Elena seemed to have a good time too. I really like Mazama Ridge in winter but heading uphill to Glacier Vista has a great deal of appeal too. Mt. Rainier is a long drive when the days are so short but well worth the time and effort.

Blowing Snow
Heading Out
Blue Sky
Fresh Snow Cover
Panorama Point
Mt. Rainier
Clouds Moving In
Mt. Adams
Elana & Rainier
Sun Shines On Clouds
Descending From Point
Snow & Clouds
Adams & Tatoosh Peaks
Below Pan Point
Vista To Glacier
Clouds Moving Closer
Wind Blown Snow
More Mt. Rainier
A Few Clouds
Photo Opportunity
Tracks Everywhere
Tatoosh Range
Sun Is Setting
A Few Shadows
Clouds Are Here
Framed Rainier
Tatoosh From Near Lot
All Shade At Paradise
Great Light
Last Light On Peaks
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2011