When I left on this trip, nearly four weeks ago, the temps were measuring 90 degrees along much of my path. Today it snowed.
My assignment was Mount Rainier National Park. Unless you’ve been to the Pacific Northwest, you may not realize that the region is a giant rainforest. A temperate rainforest. And at the top of the active volcanoes of the Cascades, temperate can give way to something much colder.
“We get an average of 644 inches of snow each year,’’ said ranger Dan Phoenix. “Now we’ve got 642 to go.’’
Our last view of Mt. Rainier’s perfect cone was yesterday, as we were driving into the small town of Packwood just southwest of the park. Today, we got a mix of fog and rain and then, above 5,000 feet, snow.
Mt. Rainier is an active volcano, we learned. Currently it averages about 30 earthquakes a year – hundreds fewer than those experienced at Mount St. Helens before it blew in 1980. Rainier’s last big eruption came about 2,000 years ago. Theoretically speaking, Rainier could blow again at any time, and at some point in the future, it will.
Meanwhile, its glaciers are diminishing. The park boasts 25 now, versus 28 when the park was created in the late 1800s.
We weren’t able to see them; too much snow at the top. Still, it was a pretty visit. Said a fellow traveler from Pennsylvania, peering into Box Creek Canyon through the mist, “What are you going to do? We’re here now. We won’t be here next week.’’
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Posted by DARCOS CRUZ at 9:49 PM