Mount Rainier National Park 2018 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 2018 wall calendar captures the park in all of its seasonal diversity through words and photographs by Ronald G. Warfield.
Published by Tide-mark, the 2018 Mount Rainier wall calendar opens to 13.75 x 20.5 inches.
Images and areas of Mt. Rainier National Park featured in the 2018 calendar include:
Chinook Pass Sunrise
For visitors approaching from the east, Chinook Pass offers the first grand view of 14,411-foot Mount Rainier. For a few weeks in summer, the glacially-carved basin around Tipsoo Lakes bursts forth with a profuse floral display. After magnificent autumn colors briefly grace the ice- covered mountain, the first flurry frosts the scene and signals a switch to winter. Dawn-chasing photographers rejoice in capturing this ephemeral sunrise glow framed by spire-like subalpine fir and western hemlock. Fog creeps up onto jagged Governor’s Ridge, which stands silhouetted against the base of The Mountain. The ridge is the craggy remains of explosive volcanoes that predate Mount Rainier by tens of millions of years.
Mid-Winter at National Park Inn
Park visitors have focused on Longmire Village as a place to rest and enjoy the scenery of Mount Rainier since the 1880’s. A twenty-first century “cool” sojourner carries on the tradition of gazing toward The Mountain from the plaza in front of the National Park Inn. Built in 1916 as the “new” the core of the Longmire Historic District. Here the National Park Service developed a “wilderness” mood by using massive stones and logs and craftsmanship of a more rugged era. The tour visits the site of the original 1880’s Longmire Medical Springs on the Trail of the Shadows and features three National Historic Landmark structures built in the rustic style around the plaza and village. Longmire Springs Hotel, across the roadway from the original 1906 National Park Inn, it was moved adjacent to the NPI in 1920 and renamed the Annex. After the original Inn burned down in 1926, the Annex became a full service hotel and was dubbed the National Park Inn. Refurbished in 1989, the Inn offers year round comforts and a superb view of The Mountain. A walking tour of Historic Longmire Village begins at the National Park Inn. Outstanding examples of “Park Service Rustic” architecture form.
Stevens Creek Chamber Music
A six-foot waterfall on Stevens Creek provides a point of interest for early season hikers on the Wonderland Trail. While winter still holds sway in sub-alpine meadows, innumerable waterfalls around the base of Mount Rainier charge into spring with childlike abandon. In Stevens Canyon, boulders, left when 700-foot thick Ice Age glaciers melted away, now cleave the spring flow of Stevens Creek into multiple channels. Most of the stream cascades over and around unyielding boulders. As the water splashes back and forth, a rhythm of ebb and flow pulses dollops of water intermittently through a narrow notch with a playful titter. The containing sidewall of this alcove, worn concave and smooth by long gone glaciers, amplifies the sound of the splatter. Thundering Stevens Creek creates a resonant background sound, punctuated by the occasional percussive muttering of stones transported by the torrent. In the midst of this tiny cobble-floored soundstage, an American dipper adds melody with its high metallic trill to round out the performance of chamber music in the wilderness.
Unicorn Peak, Winter Sunset
The final rays of a setting sun cast a warm pastel glow on snow-covered trees near Alta Vista at Paradise Meadows. An average winter drops 652 inches of snow at this 5400-foot elevation on the southern slopes of Mount Rainier. Branches of mountain hemlocks bend under the weight of deep snowpacks, sloughing the heaviest loads. Short stiff branches of subalpine firs amass prodigious cloaks of snow. Frozen fog (called rime) adds a crystalline surface that captures even more snow on branches and needles. After a storm, the rime and snow-flocked trees stand like white-cloaked monks all facing away from prevailing winds. Unicorn Peak, with its turreted summit at 6971 feet elevation, the highest of the 13 Tatoosh Range peaks, and Foss Peak, at 6524 feet, stand near the southern boundary of Mount Rainier National Park.
Grove of the Patriarchs
Old growth forests occupy the lowland valleys of the Nisqually, Ohanapecosh, White, and Carbon rivers. Big old trees, standing snags, large downed logs and a multi-layered canopy define the old growth forest. Groves of Douglas-fir, western redcedar, and western hemlock dominate the canopy of this greatest of the world’s coniferous forests. The Grove of the Patriarchs, developed on an island surrounded by the Ohanapecosh River, has endured the storms and floods of 1000 years while avoiding the ravages of fire or avalanche. Of the old growth forests that once extended all the way from the base of Mount Rainier to the shores of Puget Sound, only 3% remains uncut, protected for our children in national parks and wilderness areas. When we peer up at the giant trees, we shrink into young Lilliputians absorbed in a delightful world of dense shade and filtered light. In this moment, we relax among friends while modern cares fade into the understory.
Lupines on Golden Gate
Normal winters deposit 652 inches of snowfall that blanket Paradise Meadows well into July, but very low snowfall winters followed by warm dry spring weather accelerate the advance of summer flowers. After normal winter seasons, around the edges of receding snowbanks, yellow glacier lilies, then white avalanche lilies and western anemones begin in late June to form a progression of colorful wildflowers that washes over Paradise and other “parks” surrounding Mount Rainier. In drier seasons, lacking significant snowpacks, mid-season plants like subalpine lupine develop fragrant masses of color before the soils dry out in June. Hikers on the Golden Gate Trail absorb the sweet perfume of Paradise as they climb through Edith Creek Basin. Marmots and pikas forage among views over Paradise Valley and the jagged peaks of the Tatoosh Range. In years of relative drought, early arrivals can wander trails among some of the world’s greatest wildflower displays before August crowds take notice.
Beargrass at Van Trump Park
Mount Rainier National Park is legendary for its 93-mile floral wreath, which encircles the Mountain in the sub-alpine zone between 5000 and 7000 feet in elevation. Paradise meadow receives the most attention from flower lovers, but flower connoisseurs seeking respite from the crowds, and who enjoy a chance to see mountain goats, venture instead to Van Trump Park. Hikers pass 320-foot Comet Falls on the 2.2-mile route that ascends 2200 feet to this flower-filled meadow named for one of the first two summiteers of Mount Rainier, Philemon B. Van Trump. This floral display rivals the variety and profusion of Paradise with the notable addition of beargrass. A few beargrass plants bloom every summer, but once or twice a decade many plants’ rhizomes are able to store extra energy and form buds for great masses of beargrass to bloom in synchrony in the succeeding summer season. Then it seems that every beargrass plant in the Northwest blooms along with these near Mildred Point. As the blooms fade, the dying clumps transfer nutrients to a new generation whose rhizomes will accumulate energy for years in preparation for the next profuse bloom.
Edith Creek Basin
Summer in Edith Creek Basin, a short stroll on the Skyline Trail above Paradise Inn, is brief but brilliant. Golden glacier lilies push up through melting snowbanks in June to carpet the subalpine meadow. A week later, avalanche lilies transform the meadow into a blanket of white. In late July, the kaleidoscope of floral colors changes again as subalpine lupine splashes a fragrant purple wave, accented by white American bistort and Sitka valerian along with magenta paintbrush and the fuzzy seed heads of western anemone. The dazzling display lasts only a few short weeks as the plants rush through three complete seasons of spring growth, summer flowering, and autumn seed set before winter storms return. Hoary marmots cavort among the flowers and greet hikers who come to enjoy the floral profusion and the spectacle of 14,411- foot Mount Rainier. We will ensure future flower lovers the same scenes and fragrances that inspired naturalist John Muir only if we treat the floral landscape with respect, leave the plants intact, and help prevent trampling damage by staying on trails.
Burroughs Mountain Winthrop Glacier
In this alpine landscape, hikers enjoy a mountaintop view, shared only by mountain goats and pikas. The huge bulk of Mount Rainier seems close enough to touch but its 14,411-foot summit towers nearly 7000 feet above the jagged top of Third Burroughs Mountain. Winthrop Glacier, the second-largest glacier on Mount Rainier, carves deeply between Steamboat Prow and Curtis Ridge. Crevasses form in the ice as the glacier flows over bumps or curves in its bed. The glacier’s rocky rebriscovered snout lies a half-mile straight down. The trail from Sunrise to Burroughs Mountain provides perhaps the finest example of the treeless arcticalpine environment in the Cascade Range. It is not a rock-covered desert, but instead a place where tenacious plants grow as cushions or mats and tiny plants hug the ground, sheltered between windblocking rocks of the fellfields. In this land of floral wonders, alpine lupine dazzles with masses of blue/ purple blossoms joined by pink moss campion and spreading phlox. Treading softly in the tundra, we show respect for the plants’ tenacity by not moving rocks. Plants in this volcanic and winterhammered landscape belong to the marmots.
Spray Park Reflection
The mid-summer meadows of Spray Park become the focus of day hikers who love flower-filled meadows but who prefer to avoid crowds of other flower enthusiasts. When heather meadows, framed by groves of mountain hemlock and subalpine fir, are joined by masses of fragrant blue-violet subalpine lupine, this transforms them into the supreme wildflower meadows in the park. Ponds scattered among the luxuriant flowers delight photographers and offer superb reflections of the bold north face of Mount Rainier. In warm autumn evening light, the Mountain seems to admire its own reflection behind a silhouetted frame. The reflection invites us to ponder our relation to the Mountain and the geologic and climatic forces that continually shape this special place. In our search for the spirit of the place, we may just find ourselves.
An early winter cold front snaps a curtain of ice over the face of 168-foot Narada Falls. Behind the mantle of white, the still liquid flowing Paradise River breaks into a fountain of spray that rises in front of the falls. As the super-cooled spray strikes rocks or hemlock branches, the spray freezes immediately into a thick coating of clear ice. The slightest breeze causes the branches to tinkle like tiny crystalline wind chimes. The murmur, of falling water provides a soothing background, punctuated by the occasional splash and clatter of chunks of ice that drop from the curtain onto the base of the partially frozen cataract. The next winter storm will silence the musical trio. In reference to the clean snow melt waters of the Paradise River, and inspired by the transparent beauty of the falling water, a branch of the Theosophical Society of Tacoma named the falls in 1893 after their guru, Narada, whose name means uncontaminated.
Longmire Winter Sunset
Sunset at the winter solstice casts a warm pastel glow on the 14,411-foot ice-covered dome of Mount Rainier. The Mountain shoulders the largest single peak glacial system in the contiguous United States. Nearly a cubic mile of ice, more than on all other Cascade volcanoes combined, freshened by early winter snowstorms, makes a brilliant monochrome white impression at mid-day. But in the magic hour around sunset, The Mountain wears a coat of many colors. On days such as this when “The Mountain is out,” Northwestern winter enthusiasts delight in the winter wilderness. They know that the brilliant colors portend the gathering clouds of an approaching cold front. At the end of this perfect day, mist cloaks The Mountain. Overnight, the storm will add 4 feet to the snowpack.
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.