Monday, July 26, 2010

Riding to Paradise

After a very successful ride on Sunday (meaning that I am doing less whining on the hills), yesterday we got a wild hair to ride up to Paradise on Mount Rainier. In retrospect, it would have been good to get the hair earlier, before it got so hot, but we didn't. So there you go. In November 2006, there was an amazing terrible flood in the Rainier National Park, caused by 18 inches of rain in 36 hours. It changed the face of the park forever. We had not seen the result until yesterday. Here is a PDF of the 2006 Flood. If you have a few minutes, it's interesting to look at, to see what unrestrained water can do to a landscape. It's about 7 meg.

This was our first "holy shit" reaction. There used to be a cute little camp ground, nestled in tall trees along a fairly narrow section of river. We would park there to start the ride up to Paradise. It's gone, the old road is gone.

This is from the Nisqually bridge, looking downstream. This did not used to be this wide, and it didn't have this many rocks in it.

Looking upstream from the Nisqually bridge.

Here we are at the Paradise lodge. Either, a)the economy is better, or b)we've never done this ride in July or c)we were just later in the day than we normally are - but we have never seen s0 many tourists at the lodge. The parking lot was full and there were hundreds of them milling around in the lodge. We drank some water and headed downhill.

This is a picture of the lodge from the web. It's a really pretty building. The Park Service blew up the old visitor's center and put a new one that is located directly in one's sight line when driving around the corner so that the lodge is hidden. They should have consulted me before locating that building.

We made it to the top in 1.5 hours ride time, and 2 hours wall clock time. We have had better times, but hey, it's roughly 3,000 feet over 14 miles. It's a beautiful ride. If you are ever visiting the area, a drive up to Paradise should definitely be on your to-do list. Go on a week day!

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