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Beijing 028My parents were in town last week and I took vacation to play around with them.  One of our excursions was to Mt. Rainier.  I knew it was going to be awesome and I was still in awe when we actually got to the park.

We went to the Sunrise Visitor Center, which is the highest place (6400′) in the park that is accessible by car (though we saw plenty of bikers making the trek).  The entrance to Sunrise is on the north-east side of the park off Rte. 410 and it about 10 miles up an wide, safe switch back road (with no guard rails – those with strong vertigo should beware).  Once you get up there you’re greeted with amazing views of the east side of the glacier, so close you feel like you could touch it.  There is a small gift shop and snack bar (get the chili and soft serve ice cream) and it’s worth going in the visitor center to see the 3D model of the park as well as look through the telescope to see the nooks and crannies of the glacier up close.

There are many choices for day hikes as well as overnight camping from the visitor center. There is a good range or trails from easy to difficult.  We did the loop around Sunrise Camp that goes out toward Frozen Lake, out to First Borroughs and then around Shadow Lake.  This was a manageable hike for people of all ages and ability: clear trails, no real elevation gain, good distance.  Anyone with bad ankles, knees or hips may want to bring a walking stick.  You definitely need to bring a small pack with water, nibbles and a jacket (weather can change dramatically).

It was so beautiful up there it was if I couldn’t take a bad picture.  Between the glacier, the wildflowers, and the mountains you couldn’t find a more beautiful landscape.  I couldn’t stop myself from taking shots.  Here’s a sampling (in the middle photo you can actually see Mt. Rainier except it looks like a cloud in the lower left part of the photo):

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