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I haven’t spent much time at Sunrise, the other side of Mt. Rainier National Park. For one thing it’s a longer drive. And it’s not Paradise. It’s also hotter. But I went there yesterday and hiked down into Berkeley Park. It’s not my new favorite place, but I love going into new territory—and around here there is a lifetime of it to explore.

It was foggy at 6:30, really foggy on Hwy 12. Until the yellow sun ball started burning it off. It was a magical start to a trip to Sunrise.

Hiking at Sunrise is very exposed. Lots of full-on sun and rocks. It’s hot, did I say that already? I chose Berkeley Park for my hike and was not sorry. It took a while to get there through the full-on sun and rocks, but oh my goodness. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen so many alpine flowers. Surely it was peak of the peak. I think every alpine flower (except avalanche lilies, they are first and long gone), was blooming.

Berekely Park is short on Rainier views, long on flowers and a babbling brook. The trail descends into a bowl and into trees.There’s a backpacking camp down there, but I didn’t go quite that far. I did talk to five women, forever friends about my age, who hike together a lot. They were headed to the camp for five days. They live a bit south of me on I-5. I almost asked them if they needed another friend; they looked like my people.

I took the “long way” home, via Paradise. Though I didn’t actually go to Paradise, next time. Stopped at Reflection Lake to stretch my legs, and take a photo of four young women who had backpacked from the other side—Day 6, 56 miles—then on to my favorite mountain food venue in Ashford—Base Camp Grill—for a salmon burger and a beer. Had to settle for Rainier beer, but it was a new pale ale and not half bad. Too bad I didn’t get one of the Rainier logo glasses.

Here’s the thing, though: I forgot FORGOT! my camera. My iPhone just didn’t measure up. Okay, my “real” camera is an albeit relatively expensive but still basically a point and shoot, but still, better than the phone. I’m also not sure it was possible to capture the expanse of grandeur and the gloriosity of the flowers. Here is what I got.



Sun shining on Herself over the pasture, trees, and foothills.




The amazing disappearing mountain.



Posing marmot in the garden, here is where the iPhone just didn’t cut it.


Berkeley Park



Lunch spot.


The “bowl.” Made me think of another bowl: Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania (think Lion King), but without the giraffes.


Two more mountains, not sure which ones. Perception is off on the back side. I think one is Baker, and Adams was out of sight behind me, but for the very top. I don’t know what the other one is. The visitor center was too busy to ask. I had a date with a salmon burger.


Reflection Lake, below Paradise.


Day’s end.