A Journey to Mt. Rainier

This week, I was fortunate enough to get to travel to Mount Rainier National Park to work with the Cascades Butterfly Project crew that is stationed there. One of the many benefits of this trip is that the Cascades Butterfly Project has five survey routes spread across the park, so I was able to see a lot of it while I was there. On Monday, our crew drove from Marblemount to meet a volunteer at the Naches Loop Trailhead for our first trek in Mount Rainier. I really enjoyed the scenery, not just here but everywhere we went in the park, as the majestic Mount Rainier is seemingly always within eyeshot or lurking right around the corner of every trail.

Mt. Rainier from Naches Loop Trail

A butterfly survey in progress on Naches Loop Trail

NPS employees and volunteers confer over the identity of a butterfly whilst Mt. Rainier watches over them

  After a successful survey day, we camped for the night at White River Campground. I must say it was kind of nice to get to do some car camping instead of backpacking for a change. It’s the little things like having your own pillow to sleep on and drinking real coffee in the morning. White River Campground had some views of its own too, as the mountain watched over the campground from downriver.

A snapshot of the aptly named White River

Mt. Rainier glows minutes before sunset on the White River

The next day, we drove up to Sunrise Visitor Center to meet the Mount Rainier butterfly crew for a butterfly survey on Skyscraper Mountain. Sunrise is a very popular place for tourists, which was evident from the packed parking lot as we pulled in. It’s easy to see why Sunrise is popular with tourists, as it offers very accessible and relatively easy hiking trails which all have amazing views of the mountain and a fantastic array of colorful wildflowers.

Wildflowers on Skyscraper Mountain as Mt. Rainier peaks over the ridge

Wednesday we had butterfly survey volunteer training at Sunrise Visitor Center. It was great to see the turnout of about 10-15 new volunteers, as it is evidence that we’re doing a good job of getting the word out to the public about our project. We even had a journalist and photographer from the Seattle Times cover the volunteer training, as they were working on a story about citizen science. The new group of volunteers was very enthusiastic about learning our protocol, and I am looking forward to working with some of them in the near future up in the North Cascades. On Thursday before the long drive back to Marblemount, we were rewarded with one last casual hike at Mount Rainier on Mazama Ridge. It was the closest view we had of Mount Rainier since we had been there and was an excellent way to end the trip!

Learning about heather communities on Mazama Ridge

Mt. Rainier in all its glory

Mt. Rainier near the Golden Gate Trail


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