"Though broken by crags, bluff, and some deep canyons, the long swell of the
Cascades is generally seen as a green pedestal for majestic white volcanoes...
Viewed from certain vantage points, these giants start out in solitary splendor,
but they stand only slightly apart from a breathless company of mountain giants,
all looking romantically steep, unattainable and top heavy with ice."
Within the Cascades you will behold a range of exhausted volcanoes, not a flame on any majestic crest...but many a fire burns beneath the ground. A dormant fire mountain is only temporary, as proven in May 1980, when the most disastrous volcanic eruption in US history occurred.
|The collapse of the northern flank of Mount St. Helens is still quite visible today.|
|Life has returned to the valley surrounding the volcanoe.|
|Scars of landslide still exist.|
We camped at Seaquest State Park, a 475 acre forested park along the shoreline of Silver Lake. It was 47 miles to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, located in the heart of the blast zone, which is a wonderful interpretive center with spectacular views of the crater. Our site was surrounded by a thick canopy of moss filled trees and had "islands" of new growth of grass, which kept Sydney and Kiah mud free (most of the time) between rain storms.
|Coldwater Lake Trail|
|Interpretive boardwalk at Coldwater Lake|
|One mile boardwalk trail around Silver Lake Wetlands|
|Clouds shroud the face of Mt. Rainer|
|and there are more clouds|
|Grove of the Patriarchs Nature Trail|
|The Blue Hole|
While on the trail, we came upon Hoary Marmots posing on the hillsides. Huge piles of bear scat on the trail warned us to be on the lookout for foraging black bears. Our vigilance paid off as a short distance up the trail we came upon one of Mt. Rainier's largest carnivores. Based on the size of this bear, we assumed this was a huge male and we gave the big boy a wide berth.
Our Mount Rainer experience was incomplete, so a return visit is a must. Heck, this is THE mountain that's emblazoned on every Washington license plate and being the US fifth highest peak, is visible throughout much of the western state. Rainier is awe-inspiring and we are hooked.
|Mount Rainier as captured by Danny Seldman|
|Lenticular Clouds over Mount St. Helens|
At Waypoint 46.8523º N, 121.7603º W