My son is almost 14 and I’ve never taken him to Mt Rainier. It’s the dogs’ fault – not the same dog but one dog after another over the years. Every time I’d contemplate going I’d look at whatever hound we had at the time and think about going out and frolicking in the mountains without them (dogs aren’t allowed out of the parking lot at national parks) and would be overcome with guilt and take a nice trip to Carkeek instead. No more. I will not allow the bloody dog to drive my life and so this past Sunday, off we went to Mt. Rainer. After years of delay I wasn’t going to let the projected thunderstorms stop me.
I would have thought that August 24 would be past peak for flowers, but if it was, it was a bounteous and floriferous past-peak. Nature at Mt. Rainier follows some excellent design principle, plant in large drifts for impact and repetition of the same elements.
Large groupings of lupine climbed the slopes of the meadow, scattering the hillside in dusky purple, punctuated by the occasional sock-you-in-the-eye red of Indian paintbrush or bright yellow of some DYC (damn yellow composite). Also in plentiful bloom were pale lavender gatherings of cascade aster (Aster ledophyllus) or maybe some were alpine asters (Aster alpigenus). Some areas were dominated by small white heads of what I think are a bistort (Polygonum). Occasionally, and more isolated, were the flat white flowerheads of yarrow (Achillea), the occasional pink monkeyflower (Mimulus), showy seedheads of Western anemone and in one little area along the road, bog gentians (Gentiana calycosa). Oh, and some spirea and I think some sort of parsley family relative also bloomed here and there. So altogether, not a bad day on the mountain, right until the rain started.