Christmas Eve Trip to Mount Rainier – A Beautiful Gift

By Josh Magill

 We had not been here long, just a month or so after transferring from New Mexico in 2009, but decided since we had nowhere else to go on Christmas Eve that a trip up to Mount Rainier was as good a place to go as any.  Plus, my wife has always made a point of taking our three children on trips to show them the world, educating them about the environment and its beauty.

We can see the dormant volcano from our eldest son’s bedroom and thought, “this will be a quick trip to get the wonder out of the way.”  Wrong!!  Though the entrance to Mount Rainier National Forest is just over 45 miles from our home in the Frederickson area, southeast of Tacoma, the trip was much longer and much more fun.  Why?  Because this is one of the most beautiful places on earth and so many Americans have never seen it.  Sure, a picture on the internet or the site of it from the interstate can give you a glimpse, but until you have gotten as close as we did, then you do not really know how beautiful it is up there.

I have to say that we never made it to the top as we found you cannot go very far up the mountain without getting out and hiking many miles on foot.  No … with the snow and many other beautiful views along the way we only had to drive approximately fourteen miles past the Nisqually entrance to enjoy our adventure.  With my wife taking pictures along the way of the NisquallyRiver, Sunshine Point, and of course Mount Rainier as the massive white face peeked at us through the snow-covered trees, we slowly made it back-and-forth up the two lane road.

Stopping a few miles past the gate at the picnic area next to Kautz Creek, my family piled out of the minivan to play in the snow, which was the Christmas gift my wife had longed to see.  I stood staring at the creek, breathing in the fragrance of the trees and the sting of the cold fresh air.  This was true nature at its best and we did not have to go far to get it.  Just outside the city was this oasis of wonder and beauty that long ago we had decided to preserve.  In that moment I was proud of my ancestors and past government leadership for their forward thinking.

We loaded back up and continued up the twisting, ice-covered road taking pictures of Paradise River, Christine Falls, and a beautiful chasm of tall trees that seemed it would close in on us as we traveled up the road trapped between it.  The trees themselves were magnificent – not only tall, but fat and round at the base – seeming as large as our car. The snow clung to the base of these trees as if hugging them for warmth from the cold breeze.

Crossing over the bridge just below Rinsecker point was where we decided to turn around and head back, but not before getting some more pictures of the river, as well as looking up toward Panorama Point and wondering with all the snow about the sign that said, “Avalanche Area.”

Heading back down, we saw many more breathtaking views we did not see traveling up – my family in awe the entire way.  It was with displeasure that we exited the forest and drove home, but not before taking a picture of the sign that announces the entrance to prove we had been there, knowing it would not be our last visit.  We have been on a lot of trips to see many beautiful places, but this one outdoes them all because of the natural beauty involved.

Ironically, we got a glimpse and a picture of Alder Dam as we made our way home – a man made, but magnificent looking attraction and probably our next adventure.

© 2012  Josh Magill

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