Whittaker’s Mountaineering http://www.whittakermountaineering.com/has become a “must stop” when passing through Ashford at the entrance to Mt. Rainier for wool tops to wear as layers over a wicking T-shirt (my new favorites: http://www.whittakermountaineering.com/brands/smartwool/nts-mid-250-zip-t-womensand http://www.whittakermountaineering.com/brands/mountain-hardwear/wicked-lite-ls-t-womens)on the mountain and great children’s gifts are there too.
An acrid note hung in the air mixed with late afternoon, sun-drenched sweetness from wildflower stragglers like asters, pearly everlasting, lupine, and some which bloom late and are worth coming to see specifically.
As we began to walk up the mountain on paved trails, every language and accent met our ears and children raced along with their families. For those who had walked enough for their little legs and were cranky, we shared the sighting of a deer with two fawns to distract them. In the past, we’ve seen a fox family every year as we drove to the mountain.
The park ranger told a story in the Lodge that really fascinated me. Some of us (okay, I admit it, I identified completely….) need continual challenges and must always be building and creating. Stephen Mather’s boredom and restlessness paid off as a gift to the World: “Stephen Mather was the first director of the National Park Service. He used his wealth and political connections to take the national park idea in important new directions.
Evidently there are few places in the World one can drive right to the alpine area http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_linewhere the trees are sparse due to extreme conditions without hiking in. The endurance of the Alpines are particularly precious to me. Their usual spire-shapes accommodate to contortion under the weight of heavy snow. They are tough and persevering and remind us how strong we are too if need be. Surrounded by fragile and delicate flowers which live under snow and ice much of the year, the Alpine meadows are profound in their simplicity, power, and beauty.
Alexander’s has resident deer and one mama enjoyed apples knocked off the tree by the chef with a very long stick taped one to the other, sharing them with her two fawns. He said she had been a fawn just last year and now she is three. We have eaten many times at Alexander’s and the food is consistently good but a little expensive. We even enjoyed blackberry pie and ice cream, celebrating the end of summer- an unusual treat for us. Eclectic food made by the Sherpa’s wives is at Wild Berry- Yak Burger is on the menu and a good selection for vegetarians. Copper Creek is always busy as we near the exit to the National Park.