Mount Rainier National Park 2017 Calendar
Mount Rainier National Park in western Washington State preserves some of the best of nature’s scenic treasures. Described as an Arctic island in a temperate sea of coniferous forest, Mount Rainier is the tallest volcano in the Cascade Range and the largest single-peak glacial system in the contiguous United States. The Mount Rainier National Park 2017 wall calendar captures the park in all of its seasonal diveresity through words and photographs by Ronald G. Warfield.
Published by Tide-mark, the 2017 Mount Rainier wall calendar opens to 13.25 x 20 inches.
Images and areas of Mt. Rainier National Park featured in the 2017 calendar include:
Paradise Old Camp
Ah, the Mountain is out! After a series of early winter snowstorms have festooned the subalpine fir and mountain hemlock forests at Paradise, 14,411-foot Mount Rainier projects nearly 2 vertical miles over a wonderland of white. Even before the first automobile reached Paradise in 1911, this subalpine meadow had become the destination for summer flower lovers and a focal point for winter revelers. Early 20th century visitors who camped where they pleased soon denuded the flower meadows they had come to enjoy. Since the removal of camping at Paradise in the early 1960s, meadow revegetation work by the National Park Service has erased the old car camp. Future winter visitors may ski or snowshoe in this restored opening, a fitting foreground to the Mountain.
An early winter season snowfall catches evening light on the sky-piercing flourish of Pinnacle Peak. In winter, when clouds often obscure views of Mount Rainier, snow-draped Pinnacle Peak provides a focal point for skiers and snowshoers. Peaks of the Tatoosh Range anchor the southern boundary of Mount Rainier National Park and form an eye-stopping backdrop for the subalpine meadows of Paradise. The summits of this and other Tatoosh peaks are erosional remains of welded tuff – partially re-melted fragments of frothy lava that exploded out of volcanoes that preceded Mount Rainier by tens of millions of years. Salt-and-pepper textured Tatoosh granodiorite that cooled and crystallized underground forms the base of the range and also underlies Mount Rainier. Ice Age glaciers sculpted the jagged ridge and horns of these mountains. Glaciers eroding on several faces of one of these promontories fashioned the aptly named Pinnacle Peak.
Sunset at Glacier View
The old fire lookout site atop Glacier View provides a balcony perspective on the Tahoma Glacier and a place to contemplate the effects of recent eruptions, sector collapse, and mudflows on the western flank of the most hazardous volcano in the Cascade Range. Twenty five named glaciers continue to carve Mount Rainier. The Tahoma Glacier, one of six glaciers which flow from the summit icecap, tumbles down the west face of the Mountain between the summits of Liberty Cap and Point Success. The South Mowich and Puyallup glaciers descend from the base of the lava cliffs of Sunset Amphitheater. About 2600 years ago, the Round Pass mudflow removed a bite-shaped chunk of the upper mountain, allowing subsequent lava flows and the Tahoma Glacier to spill westward from the summit crater. In about 1502 A.D., a section of Sunset Amphitheater collapsed and flowed down the Puyallup River Valley. This Electron Mudflow buried forests as far as 30 miles downstream from Mount Rainier.
From April through June, it becomes obvious why we call this range of volcanic mountains, of which Mount Rainier is the crowning sentinel, The Cascades. As world-record snow packs begin to melt away from mid-level elevations, meltwater transforms every precipice into a splashing spectacle. Lovers of falling water will find more than 150 waterfalls within the boundaries of Mount Rainier National Park. Although most park waterfalls are accessible only to backcountry hikers, Sunbeam Creek provides two delightful views for roadside visitors. Emanating high in the Tatoosh, the creek cascades over ledges of Tatoosh granodiorite before dropping under Stevens Canyon Road, pools briefly in Louise Lake, and then drops again before joining Stevens Creek. The angular steps of granodiorite spread the creek into a profusion of tiny horsetail sprays. Glacial meltwater does not feed the small watershed of Sunbeam Creek, so late summer visitors will find only a trickle flowing over the moss and lichen-covered ledges.
Van Trump Park
Subalpine meadows encircle Mount Rainier in a 93-mile floral wreath. Flower connoisseurs seeking Paradise without the crowds and a chance to see mountain goats venture instead to Van Trump Park. Be patient: early-season hikers find avalanche chutes, a steep snow-covered trail and a dangerous stream crossing. Later, in July, Comet Falls treats hikers with a 320-foot narrow spray only 1.4 miles from the trailhead, but the hike includes a steep 1400-foot ascent. Beyond the falls another .8-mile hike with an 800-foot rise brings the reward of the flower-filled meadow named for one of the first two summiteers of Mount Rainier, Philemon B. Van Trump. As snow melts away, yellow glacier lilies and buttercups ring the snowbanks. Only a week later, white avalanche lilies carpet every available open slope. The massive display makes it easy to imagine that an avalanche of fine snow has fallen across the meadow.
Beargrass on the Bench
Mount Rainier peers out from behind a curtain of fog that envelops Stevens Canyon and the flat-topped meadow known as the Bench on the northern flank of the Tatoosh Range. A dense old-growth forest of Alaska yellow cedar, mountain hemlock and subalpine fir shrouded this view until a fire in 1886 left only the cedars that stand as silvery snags among the recovering forest. Beargrass, once sheltered beneath the forest cover, now dominates the sun-filled opening along the trail to Bench Lake. Some beargrass plants bloom every summer, but once or twice in a decade conditions allow many plants' rhizomes to store extra energy and set the stage for great masses of beargrass to bloom in synchrony in the following summer season. Then it seems that every beargrass plant in the Northwest blooms at once. As the bloom fades, nutrients in the dying clumps transfer to a new generation that will accumulate energy for years until the next profuse bloom.
Paradise Meadow Wildflowers
Devotees of wildflowers recognize the luxuriant display on the Lakes Trail on Mazama Ridge as the scene that inspired naturalist John Muir to declare that the flower-filled meadows of Paradise were the most extravagantly beautiful subalpine garden he had ever found. Masses of purple subalpine lupine carpet the meadow, accented by magenta paintbrush and white Sitka valerian and bistort. Fuzzy seed heads of western anemone project above the fragrant purple mass like "mice on a stick" by early August. Millions of flower lovers and hikers have shared Muir's admiration for Mount Rainier. We will assure future flower lovers the same scenes and fragrances that we enjoy only if we show respect for the floral landscape and help prevent meadow damage.
Edith Creek at Paradise Meadows
Visitors at Paradise hike a short half-mile on the Skyline Trail to one of Mount Rainier National Park's signature views – Myrtle Falls with Mount Rainier looming in the background above Edith Creek Basin. Edith Creek drains the flower-filled subalpine basin, flows through this cascade lined with pink monkey flowers, lupines, and louseworts, and then plunges 80 feet over Myrtle Falls. Hoary marmots vie for the attention of hikers who have come to enjoy the view of the ice-covered dome of 14,411-foot Mount Rainier.
Snow Lake Reflection
Only a short distance from roadside viewpoints at Reflection Lakes, backcountry campers relish this view across the tranquil waters of Snow Lake. Shaded by high ridges, the lake often remains snow-covered through late July. Snow Lake rests in a cirque at the base of 6939-foot Unicorn Peak, the highest point of the Tatoosh Range. The talus slope at the head of the lake harbors a snowbank that resembles a huge white raptor soaring over the lake. The relatively gentle 1.5-mile trail access offers spectacular displays of beargrass in some years and an annual colorful autumn show of mountain ash and huckleberries. Only .5 mile from the trailhead, Bench Lake hides a broad reflection of Mount Rainier amid thickets of Sitka alder. Day hikers who traverse the meadow beyond Snow Lake's inlet may be treated to a glimpse of Mount Rainier reflected in the lake.
Mount Rainier at Sunrise
A golden slope of grasses and sedges spreads across the foreground as the lower-angled sunlight of an autumn morning warms Yakima Park. Sunrise on Mount Rainier provides a special treat for hikers on the Sourdough Ridge Trail. The great bulk of the Mountain is most obvious from this vantage point. The 14,411-foot summit towers over the subalpine meadows that for many summers before the arrival of Europeans provided a place for Yakama Chief Owhi to hunt, harvest, play games, stage sham battles and dance amid the flowers and berries. Sourdough Ridge and Dege Peak trails offer panoramic views of Little Tahoma Peak, Mount Rainier, Emmons Glacier, and Burroughs Mountain and give perspective to the historic Sunrise Day Lodge and western-style Sunrise Visitor Center. Atolls of subalpine fir punctuate the meadow where Owhi once played. We tread lightly on the subalpine meadow. It belongs to our grandchildren.
Longmire Meadow Reflection
Since the 1880s, Longmire Meadow has been a staging area for visitors intent on getting close to Mount Rainier. Returning from a climb to the 14,411-foot summit in 1883, James Longmire located his strayed horses grazing in the meadow. He noted mineral springs and returned the following year to establish Longmire Medical Springs. Visitors traveled to the resort for its magnificent wild landscape as much as for the never proved "curative" health benefits of its mineral baths. Mount Rainier's snowy dome stands guard over the site of the former spa. The Trail of the Shadows circles the meadow and highlights the family who brought the first wave of tourists to the Mountain’s slopes. Beavers occasionally return to the meadow and construct dams which hold reflections of the Mountain that inspires climbers and lovers of wilderness.
Winter Sunset at Paradise
Sunset at the winter solstice casts a warm glow and strong side lighting on snow-flocked subalpine firs at Barn Flats near Paradise. The icy dome of 14,411-foot Mount Rainier projects more than 9,000 feet above this scene of calm after early winter storms have dumped nearly half of the annual average snowfall of 651 inches at this 5,400-foot elevation. Though less snow falls at higher elevations, winter retains its year-round grip on the upper mountain. With 20-foot snowpacks common by early April at Paradise it will be late July before all the snow melts away. Unmelted snowpack on the upper mountain contributes to the largest single peak glacial system in the contiguous United States. Standing in this scene of world record snowfalls, we barely realize that all glaciers on Mount Rainier, along with glaciers worldwide, are receding in response to global climate change.
About the Photographer
Photographer/author Ron Warfield has lived near mountains throughout his life. Degrees in forestry, geology, and wild land ecology from Colorado State University provide a natural basis for his photography. Throughout his career as a Park Ranger/Naturalist with the National Park Service, he carried a camera. Since retiring from the position of Assistant Chief Park Naturalist at Mount Rainier, he has become a full-time outdoor photographer focusing on national parks across North America. Ron and his wife, Beckie, are based in Eatonville, Washington.