Since the early autumn evening sun would cast its warm rays of light on the southwest flank of Mount Rainier, I wanted to find a good vista to photograph the grand mountain on this clear and sunny fall day.
One area that I researched was the Glacier View Lookout just outside of Ashford, Washington. The photographs that I reviewed showed a wide view of Mount Rainier and the surrounding countryside. With the potential for great views and a sunny day, it was time for a hike.
To get to the Glacier View Trailhead, I traveled along SR706 through the community of Ashford, Washington until the junction with Forest Road 59. FR59 is a typical Pacific Northwest gravel forest service road. The drive starts in the forest, eventually climbing to provide peek-a-boo views of Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens. There is one junction that provides a nice view of Mount Rainier (just in case you don’t want to make the hike).
I arrived at the Glacier View Trailhead in the early afternoon. The two-mile trail climbs steadily, mostly on sidehills, eventually getting closer to the ridgeline. I passed several solo hikers plus a few couples, all being led by their dogs.
Eventually, I reached the summit where an old Fire Lookout was once located, and maybe one of the nicest views of Mount Rainier outside the national park. Basically, the summit consists of a small level area on top of a rock, surrounded by vertical cliffs.
Since it was still mid-afternoon, I had plenty of time to just sit and look at Mount Rainier. As I sat, I retrieved my topographical map and located all the visible glaciers plus a few named peaks.
From the vista at Glacier View, you look straight into the Tahoma and Puyallup Glaciers. To the south, you have distant views of Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens. Looking west, there are views of the Puget Sound Lowlands and the Olympic Mountains far in the distance. There wasn’t much in the way of fall colors yet, only a few patches on the distant avalanche chutes.
It was a very warm day, a little hazy, with a few clouds to the West. The bugs were bad, but fortunately not the mosquitoes. I also had good cell phone coverage from the summit, so I sent a few iPhone photos to the family and checked in with my wife.
Once the last group left the Glacier View summit, I had the 5400-foot peak to myself. Very peaceful indeed!
As I was sitting there taking in the views, I realized that this could very well be one of the last really warm days of the year. It was a wonderful place to spend the afternoon, sitting silently in awe of creation.
The only sounds were of the gentle breeze, the swarming bugs, and the river far below. Occasionally, I would hear some rockfall from the surrounding cliffs. Life can be busy, and these quiet moments are rare, so I took every advantage of being in the moment.
Throughout the afternoon, I would shoot a series of landscape photographs just in case the weather conditions changed, which is very typical when attempting to photograph Mount Rainier. I became a little worried when some clouds starting forming at the summit of the mountain but soon they dissipated.
Since the Glacier View summit provides such a vast perspective of Mount Rainier and the surrounding landscape, I knew that I wanted to create panoramic landscape photographs from the day’s captures.
I stayed at the summit as late I could and still have time to hike out to the car before it was really dark. I wished I could have stayed until last light, but that wasn’t going to happen on this day.
I was very appreciative of the several hours of being still. I had time to think about all that I’m grateful for, including my faith, my family, and especially my wife for being understanding of my needs to be in nature.
I’m also grateful for the gift that allows me the vision to share the beauty of nature through my photography, especially of Washington State and the Pacific Northwest.