Friday, January 8, 2016

Just in Case You Hadn't Heard...

...sometimes it snows at Paradise.

NPS Photo / Harvey

VIP Sarah Pigeon shadowed by Eagle Peak
NPS Photo / Harvey
And then sometimes, we get over sixty inches of snow in just a few days span.  This is what happened to Mount Rainier National Park at the beginning of the holiday break for many people.  On December 23rd and 24th, the entire park was closed due to the sheer amount of snow we had received.  In the lower elevations, the snow was so wet and heavy that it was weighing down seemingly healthy trees left and right, many of which fell upon the roadway.  The roads crew was hard at work on both of those days, trying to clear the road as best as possible. 
When the Nisqually gate finally opened at noon on December 25th, the line of cars stretched well past the park boundary and continued over a mile down the road.  Luckily in that line of cars were a few of our hardy Snow Rovers, who spent their afternoon strolling along the Trail of the Shadows and trekking up the Wonderland Trail, making hundreds of contacts on a beautifully sunny day. 

With the abundance of snow, the plows were working extra hard to carve their way to Paradise.  In doing so, our ancient snow moving machines suffered a few losses, and at one point, we were left with only one plow to move all of that snow.  With thanks to the park's auto shop, the plows were on the road in no time, and Paradise was finally open to the public once more.

NPS Photo / Harvey
In the days following the re-opening of Paradise, you could not ask for more perfect weather.  The alabaster snow was glistening under the warmth of the midday sun hanging high in the electric blue sky.  Of course, the Mountain, donning a new jacket reminiscent of mother-of-pearl, drew in all of the attention of park visitors and volunteers, stealing the show, as usual.  Just to the south, shadows were dancing across the ridges and valleys on the serrated Tatoosh Range, leaving the spectators in awe as the sun began to fade below the horizon.  Not to be outdone, every color of the rainbow was visible for only a few seconds on the flanks of the mighty Tacobet, as the sun was starting its race around the Earth, only to come up the following morning and do it all over again.

NPS Photo / Harvey
While the sights were inspiring to say the least, every single volunteer that took in the spectacular wonders of nature also assisted thousands of visitors, either directly or indirectly, during what could have been a chaotic time.  To put it in perspective, the Upper Lot, the Paradise Inn Lot, the Lower Lot, Narada Falls Lot, Christine Falls Lot, and Comet Falls Lot were all full of eager visitor's by 11:30am on Saturday, January 2nd.   

The introduction of over five new feet of snow, sunny skies, and the official opening of the Snow Play area at Paradise were all contributing factors to the influx of excited people to the Park, and with thanks to help from our Nordic Patrol, the visitors were able to find their way around on many miles of marked routes around the Paradise area. 

A big thank you goes out to all of our volunteers, and especially those who spent part of their holiday breaks giving back on the Mountain!  Without your help and dedication, this break would not have been as wonderful as it was!
NPS Photo / VIP Kelly Teale

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