Tag Archives: Longmire

The Armchair Photography Guide to Mount Rainier National Park – Part 4

Christine Falls

My final installment (Part 4) of the Armchair Photography Guide to Mount Rainier National Park has been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.  Click on the photo to be taken to the site if you want to check out the article (and read Parts 1 – 3, if you haven’t already done so). 😉




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Filed under 1DX, 5DSR, Armchair Photography Guide, Canon, Equipment, HD PENTAX-DA645 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Lens, Mt. Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, nature, Pentax 645z, Pentax Lens, Photography, Travel

A Birthday Celebrated In Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

6250_Becky and The Mountain

Happy Birthday To Me!

I can’t think of a better place to celebrate my birthday than on vacation in Mt. Rainier National Park, WA.  I’m not a huge party person (although my 50th birthday party was a lot of fun),  so spending the day on my own was right up my alley.

As part of my 10-day vacation, I stayed a couple of nights in the park, at  the National Park Inn, near the Longmire entrance.   It’s a lovely old inn, very basic (no TV, cell service, internet, in-room fridge) serving as the winter and spring gateway into the higher elevations of the park.  If you want to get to Paradise, you’ve got to go through Longmire.

94C3460_National Park Inn

That morning, I hopped in my little rental Fiat and drove the dry, plowed road up to the Paradise area to capture some great photos of The Mountain.

The sky was blue, the sun was out, there was a gorgeous lenticular cloud surrounding the summit, and (luckily) the snow was just mushy enough for me to get a good foothold without snow shoes (I knew I should have used my Stay and Play coupon for a free pair from the Inn).

As you can see, the snow pack was pretty high.  I stayed in this lodge back in 2010 on the second floor (identified by those triangular-shaped little garrets in this photo).   I can’t remember which, but one of those garrets was my room!

94C3230_Paradise Inn

6244_Mt Rainier


6264_Mt Rainier

6308_Mt Rainier

94C3090_Leaning Tree CROP

94C3152_Snow Trees and Tracks


94C3135-2_Pine Cones

After spending a couple of hours along the packed-snow trail, I realized I’d forgotten my water back in the car (along with my Clif Bar).  By now, the day was quite warm and the snow even mushier, so I carefully re-traced my route back down to the car, avoiding the chunks of snow spewing forth from the snow blower and arcing over the side and onto the path in front of me.

Munching on my energy bar, I watched with interest the snow blower spewing recently-plowed snow onto the already-high snow bank.  A few intrepid snow shoers also watched before heading up those very same snow banks for their day on The Mountain.


6316_Shovel Ready

94C3268_Snow Blower

Later that afternoon, I took on a .7 mile hike around Longmire Meadow, called the Trail of The Shadows.


I had completed this relaxing little walk the day before, but didn’t have the right lens to capture that silky water effect on a little waterfalls alongside the trail.  This second time around the trail, I had tripod and graduated ND filter with me.

94C3396_Forest Falls

94C3415_Forest Greens

The interesting thing about this particular hike is the fact that there are all sorts of bubbling mineral seeps and springs in the meadow around which the trail circles.  A reminder that Mt. Rainier is a “napping” volcano, subject to burps, snores, and other exhalations.

94C1388_Green Water

This red spring below is called “Iron Mike”.   James Longmire  touted the medicinal properties of these natural springs, indicating they could cure whatever it was that ailed a person.  Nowadays, there are signs next to these pools of colored water warning people not to drink the stuff.

94C3368_Iron Mike

The bubbling spring and algae seen at Travertine Mound:

94C3440_Travertine Mound

94C3442_Travertine Mount Bubbles

Bubbling waters in Longmire Meadow.  Hot water heated by Mt. Rainier runs down to the lower elevations (the meadow), where it bubbles up through the cooler soil, releasing the trapped carbon dioxide and other minerals in solution.

94C3327-2_Algae Iron and Bubbles

94C3335-2_Carbon Dioxide

This view  was a source of inspiration for James Longmire.


Just a few hundred yards from trail’s end, I thought about stepping off of the path, onto the snow-covered bank, and thence onto the road since the Inn was right across the highway.  After my first step sank up to my calf in the snow, I decided it would be in my best interest to remain on the path.

It’s the little karmic / kismet-y things that create for that noun called “serendipity”, which favored me on my birthday.

At trail’s end, I looked up and across the highway to see this beautiful little creature eyeing me.  Looking both ways, she carefully crossed the highway, padded right past me, and quietly went on about her foray.  I noticed a wide collar around her neck to which a tracking device was attached.  Somebody was keeping tabs on her comings and goings.

Had I stepped onto the road instead of following the path, I would have missed seeing the little fox, and that would have definitely been my loss.

94C3463_Birthday Surprise

94C3474-2_Crossing The Highway

94C3477-2_Right On By Me CROP

94C3484-2_Looking Back

It was a very good day, and I can’t think of a better place to have celebrated my birthday. Open-mouthed smile


Filed under Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Vacation, wildlife

Sometimes It Pays To Listen To That Little Voice Inside Your Head

6225_Becky and Her Rental Fiat

Sometimes, you need to listen to that little voice  inside your head.  Usually, I don’t, but today, I did.  And I’m glad.

Day 3 of my Washington State vacation saw me heading toward the Longmire entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park.  I had a reservation for two nights at the National Park Inn.  I love staying in historic park lodges.  No, they aren’t 5-star hotels – they are very basic with no bells or whistles and usually no television or phone and definitely no internet service.  But, they are always rich with park history.

April means The Mountain still has quite a bit of snow, making access to many places difficult to well nigh impossible.  I’d already stayed at the Paradise Lodge, so I figured staying someplace a little lower in elevation would allow me to hike around without having to resort to cross-country skis (back in the day, I loved downhill skiing, but was a terrible alpine skier).

Naturally, I arrived at the National Park Inn way too early for  check-in, having left my Seattle hotel around 7AM that morning (it only takes 2 hours to get to the Longmire entrance).  So, I figured I’d try to drive up to the Paradise area to see how it looked covered with snow; I’d visited during the fall, when the huckleberry bushes were brilliant oranges and reds, and the sky was a deep, dark blue.

The best adjective I have to describe the day is: “bleak”.  The sky was a hazy white.  The cloud cover was high enough in altitude to not hide Mt. Rainer and surrounding mountains, but basically, the scenery was white on white, with a little bit of dark from the treeline and the rocks sticking out of the snow.

I realized I was fighting an uphill battle when my attempt to hike to Narada Falls was a total bust before even leaving the parking lot.  The snow level reached above my head and I had no snow shoes (perhaps I should invest in a pair, although I do live in southeast Texas where snow shoes do nothing but make for an interesting wall decoration).  Then, I heard a little voice inside my head telling me to head back down in elevation, away from the hues of white, and toward the multitudinous hues of green deep within the shadowy forest.

So, I did.

I parked, pulled out my tripod and cameras, set things up, then just stood there.

And listened.

The forest is still and silent, yet alive with the sounds of nature:  birdsong, wind blowing through the trees, the creak of the trees as they bend in the wind, the drip of moisture from the leaves to the ground, the flow of water from countless meltwater springs and rivulets.

5017_Running Water

5030_Running Water

5041_Running Water

5050_Running Water

I captured images I would not have thought to photograph had I not listened to that little inner voice telling me to leave the white-on-white.

5005_Forest Greens


94C1117_Green Encrusted Log

94C1133_Moss Greens

94C1150_Tall Trees and Many Greens

5010_Mossy Arms

Do yourself a favor – listen occasionally to that little voice inside your head because it may well lead you to the best images of the day.


Filed under Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography, Vacation