August 29, 2020
Paradise with Grandchildren. Is that redundant?
My Seattle family goes on an adventure nearly every weekend it seems. I’ve long been impressed by how the moms make days not at work and daycare/school special for their boys—at least work and daycare/school back in the day. How they don’t spend them collapsing at home, though that would be understandable; or doing all the household tasks that don’t get done during the week, though that too would be understandable. But they don’t stray far from home, understandably. And they had never taken my grandsons to Mt. Rainier. It is not close to north Seattle.
But Friday, after their days with me this week (I know, I haven’t told you about that yet; coming!), they decided to stay an extra day and go to Paradise. On a Saturday. Yikes. Of course it was the one day the little guys weren’t up before dawn, and we left home an hour later than we could have any other day of the week, 7:30.
The weather forecast was for partly cloudy, changing to mostly sunny. We drove through rain in the Klickitat Valley, but the weather there often does its own thing. And it looked brighter ahead. At 9:00, we were only a few cars back at the gatehouse into the park. Thirty minutes later, at the top, there was not a single spot in the overflow lot, we didn’t bother to drive through the lot at the visitor center, but scored a space not far down the road. And the sun was breaking though.
After a stop at the passport station for a stamp, we plowed through the hoards toward the trail heading left, which is always, curiously, less traveled than the ones to the right or the center. The mountain continued playing peek-a-boo and it seemed a sure bet the fog was going to clear.
And the flowers were spectacular! I had no thought there would still be flowers!
At the top of the first ridge, up Dead Horse Creek, we slipped off pavement down the little-traveled Moraine trail. It’s my favorite low trail. And here be marmots! (And ground squirrels.)
We continued down the unmaintained trail into our own private meadow. And deeper into fog. The mountain, that is right there in front of us, was not going to show herself again. Nor was the Nisqually River far below our ridge. Nor were the boys going to be visible if they got too far ahead and they were bounding, as if they were in paradise. This mountain, maybe all mountains, reverse the fortunes of the weather whenever they darn well please; nothing is ever a sure bet.
If I had known, if any of us had known, it was going to be one of those times one goes to Mt. Rainier and doesn’t see Mt. Rainier, we would not have gone. But the flowers, the marmots, the boys in the fog were enchanting. Thank goodness we didn’t know.
And there was sun at the Base Camp Grill. (And an unbelievably long line of cars waiting at the gatehouse.)