Today was a two mountain day. A day of exploring around Mount Rainier National Park, with a small side trip toward Mount Adams.
The day was partly about escaping the heat by heading into the mountains, and partly about finishing up the 25 caches of the Rainier100 challenge. It was a perfect day.
We went to see the Wilkeson coke ovens, then drove up the Mowich Lake Road, something we haven't done in years. We did some hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, checked out an archeological site in a cave, and found a new-to-us waterfall.
But by far the best thing we did was drive to the end of the Sun Top lookout road. Oh, my... what a trip! The road climbs from WA-410 at the White River, up and up to the top of an old volcano, 3000+ feet above the valley. It's a spectacular, vertigo-inducing drive up, with the sky getting closer and the trees falling lower, until you come out on the last switchback at about 5300 feet. And there it is, The Mountain, right in your face just 15 miles away.
We drove up in the early evening, the day drowsy with the day's heat, but with the promise of cooling come nightfall. There is a 360 degree view from here, all the way to the Olympics and Mount Baker on a clear day (but not today because of haze).
We met the two ladies who are volunteer fire watchers for the next couple of nights, and got a tour of the lookout. There are bunks for three, windows on four sides, counters to hold a cook stove, and cooking pots. And a never-ending view.
Driving home, this experience was the only thing we could talk about. The amazing panorramic view, and the beautiful classic fire lookout. I can just picture what it would be like to stay here overnight. The deafening quiet. Watching the sun go down from 5300 feet, and the sun rising in the east the next morning. That endless view. And can you just imagine the star gazing?
Becoming a volunteer fire watcher here, or any of the fire lookouts, is definitely on my list!