Well, here we go again. A new location and a new employer. This time, it’s Mount Rainier, Washington and Guest Services Incorporated.

We have been working for a couple of weeks as store clerks, Tracy is in the Paradise Inn gift shop and Mark is at the Jackson Visitor Center gift shop.

They have provided us with a shuttle ride to and from work and a campsite at the base of the mountain at 1,844 ft, but we work at the foot of the volcano at 5400 ft. The summit is at 14,410 ft and on clear days is in full view of our work sites. A park ranger told us that from where we work, we are looking 9 miles to the summit, but the optical illusion is that you could just walk right up there. Of course that is not true, as many, many dead people could tell you.

We have ventured onto the mountain taking hikes along several established trails and it is stunningly beautiful, however you always seem to have the people who never made it home in the back of your mind.

The weather can change in an instant, being a beautiful summer day one minute, and then, like magic, clouds come over the mountain and its winter in August. We have trekked across the snow fields at the base of the glaciers and it has been quite an experience.

Further down the mountain, in the old growth forests, we hiked on a path called the Trail of the Shadows, which reminded us of the Enchanted Forest. Giant Douglas Firs, Western Hemlock, as well as the largest Cedar trees we have ever seen, line the pathway that encircles mineral springs that were used as medicinal/health spas in the late 1800s.

On our days off, we have also had the opportunity to see the other side of the mountain known as Sunrise. Leaving the town of Ashford (which is where we camp) we traveled through the town of Packwood, past Ohanapecosh (Indian name for standing at the edge), across Cayuse Pass and then crossing the White River to one of the most scenic places we have had the pleasure of seeing. Wildflowers were something we had never even considered until we saw the overwhelming abundance of them filling the rolling meadows that Sunrise is famous for. Again, right place – right time.

Leaving Sunrise, we enjoy a trip along Stevens Canyon Rd, which brings us to Box Canyon, which is an example of natures awesome power. Water carving out a 180 ft slice through solid rock is something that is interesting to say the least.

Following Stevens Canyon past Louise Lake brings us to Reflection Lakes which, on a calm day, would offer a picturesque view of Mount Rainier, but hey, you can’t have it all.

Speaking of not having it all – along with play comes work – but how bad can it be when you work at a place called “Paradise”.

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