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#5 Mount Rainier: Snowiest Place on Earth!

February 26, 2017

If God opened His refrigerator and the light spilled out into our world, that light would illuminate Mt. Rainier. You might be aware of photography's golden hour. That day, I lived it.

 

 

I do not feel I have spent enough time in Mt. Rainier NP to justify writing about it. However, that actually puts the compelling need to express the few hours I did spend in the park into perspective! Funny how a last minute add-on can leave an indelible impression!

 

The "add-on" was squeezed into the preamble of an exciting father-son Alaska trip, taking advantage of the Seattle layover. Here were the logistics: Flight arrived in Seattle at 10.40 pm. The flight to Anchorage was at 2.40 pm (next day). Mt. Rainier National Park was 2 hours south of Seattle. Enough time to say "hello" to the National Park but not enough time to meet the entire household. Sleep was not a part of the equation. 

We were received by a friend, Aman, who hosted us in his swanky downtown condo. The three of us left for Mt. Rainier around 2 am. Aman was gracious enough to let me drive his Porsche Cayenne. He's one of the most happy-to-help guys I know...and he happens to be a fellow photographer!

 

We entered Mt. Rainier National Park at the start of the blue hour. The eastern sky was waking up but the surroundings were in darkness - except Mt. Rainier itself. Glowing a cool white, Mt. Rainier imposed its presence on the alpine landscape. We could only check out three places (briefly): Sunrise Visitor Center, Tipsoo Lake and Paradise.

 

Though rushed for time, we would process a good introductory tour of the National Park. Aman guided us to the Sunrise Visitor Center where already I saw a couple of photographers getting ready. I stepped out. Fresh, cool mountain air rushed into my lungs. Despite the break of dawn, the sky still gleamed with stars. It is worth mentioning that Mr. Rainier was my first outing with my new full frame DSLR - the Nikon D810. I was still getting acquainted with the calibration and developing muscle memory for the main guns. Nevertheless, I did what I could and fired off a few exposures. Then, Aman suggested we drive to the Tipsoo area to catch the sunrise. The eastern sky was already warming. Tipsoo was 40 mins away. It was time to put the Porsche to the test!

 

So nimble! Despite being an SUV, the Cayenne accelerated uphill and negotiated the curves with ease. We reached a foggy Tipsoo Lake in good time. The fog lifted as the sun rose.

 

Suddenly, the sky turned from celestial blue to crimson red. I was too overwhelmed to take decent pictures! The transient light doesn't wait for a photographer anyway. 

 

With a couple of hours left, we hurried on to the snowiest place on Earth - Paradise. In the winter of 1971-72, the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier NP received a record-setting 93.5 ft of snow! I couldn't help but make several stops along the way to drink in the magical golden light that illuminated Mt. Rainier. I could feel the light - if that makes sense. If God opened His refrigerator and the light spilled out into our world, that light would illuminate Mt. Rainier. You might be aware of photography's golden hour. That day, I lived it. A grand passing into Paradise!

 

You are not left to wonder why Paradise is called so. For a second, I forgot I was in the United States - I was teleported to the Alps. The atmosphere was ineffable; a surreal presentation of flora celebrating the majesty of Mt. Rainier!

We couldn't hike much into the attractive wilderness but I took a shot of Myrtle Falls. The clouds were playing peek-a-boo with Mt. Rainier in the backdrop.

 

I missed a great opportunity to frame Myrtle Falls during the ephemeral glimpse of Rainier's peak! I wished we could have spent more time in the beautiful National Park. But, it was time to catch our flight to Alaska.

 

I credit Mt. Rainier NP for truly opening my eyes to the profound natural beauty blossoming in the United States. I had heard about the Pacific Northwest housing some of Earth's best gardens. I became a witness and now, I am an advocate. Unfortunately, I could not do justice with the photographs I attempted. But, I assuaged the miss knowing that morning in Rainier was a bonus and I was bound to return with due attention. 

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