Mt. Rainier, Paridise

Alder Lake to Paradise, Mount Rainier

September 14, 2012

73 miles

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier

My week at work after the Artist Point ride flew by.  As soon as I would get home from work each day,  I planned my route for the next bike ride.  The weather forecast was good as I packed by bike and bags into the truck the night before I headed out for Mount Rainier.   I left the house at 5:00 am in hopes of avoiding some of that lovely I-5 and 405 commuter traffic.  Mapquest indicated 2 hour, 30 minute drive.  It took a little more than three hours to get to the Alder Lake boat launch off of Highway 7.    I was on two wheels rolling up the road shortly afterwards.   After my Mt. Shuksan trip I purchased some colder weather gear.  I had a nice pair of gloves and face protector.  As it turned out, I didn’t need them this day.  With a later start and thin cloud cover the temperature was much more comfortable that the week prior.    Adler Lake was to my right side and with very little traffic this was a very nice start to the trek.  I found the quaint town of Elbe at the east end of the lake.  Elbe is the home of the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad.  This place is one you will want to put on your NW travel bucket list.  They provide a look into and an interactive experience with steam locomotive history.  The Hobo Inn is housed in old railroad cars and caboose that have been refitted for lodging, dining, and shops.  

Hobo Inn in Elbe, WA

Hobo Inn in Elbe, WA

I continued towards the mountain and passed through the small town of Ashford.  I found that this was the last place I had a reliable cellular telephone signal so I sent a location update text message to Tawnee and others.  The town people were busy preparing for some sort of outdoor festival as they set up booths, tables, and exhibits.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

When I entered the Rainier National Park Entrance it was as if entering a world in a fantasy story.  The road wound through the huge moss-covered trees as it followed the Nisqually River up the canyon.  The river was now a fraction of its spring size.  I looked peaceful and inviting but there was much evidence of the torrent it would be with the winter snow thaw of spring. 

Nisqually River and Mt Rainier

Nisqually River and Mt Rainier

I stopped to photograph several streams and waterfalls along the way.  This was an excellent excuse to catch my breath as it had been a steady climb ever since I entered the Rainier National Park. 

Christine Falls

Christine Falls

Christine Falls at the bridge edge

Christine Falls is one of those must stop locations.  When you are on the bridge you cannot see and appreciate how the water has sculpted and bored a hole in its attempt to find the center of Earth.

Narada Falls

Narada Falls

 Another photo break point was up the road at Narada Falls.  The view from the roadway bridge and the trail below provide a great photo opportunity.  As I continued pedaling uphill I was surprised with how difficult it was.  Each of these mountain treks presents its own unique challenges.  This one was a long steady uphill climb for many miles without a break in the grade.   The percent of grade slowly but surely increased from the park entrance to the Paradise parking lot. 

Mt Rainier from Paradise

Mt Rainier from Paradise

  The air quality was poor due to the Wenatchee area forest fire smoke that was being pushed west over the Cascade Mountains.   I turned the last corner and saw the Paradise Inn framed by the immense Mt. Rainer glaciers.   This lodge has been a tourist destination since being built in 1916. 

Paradise Inn a Few Years Ago

Paradise Inn a Few Years Ago

I found myself a nice little corner of the Inn’s outdoor deck and kicked my feet up on this wonderful sunny day.  I was very comfortable in my shorts and light shirt.  I enjoyed my meal of beef jerky, dried fruit, and Gatorade.   I met several nice people and visited with them for the next 45 minutes.  I met Skip who is now retired and living in Spokane.  He told me stories of his many experiences as a soldier in Vietnam and working as a deputy and forensic technician for the Pinellas County, Florida Sheriff’s Office.   A trio of retired women from the southern states shared their excitement and joy of this experience and their anticipation for the Alaskan cruise they would start the next day.  A man from Scotland and woman from Colorado told of their world travels and shared mountain biking in the Colorado Rocky Mountains stories.   On each of these bike trips I have new and interesting people.  It was a little after two o’clock before I headed back down the mountain road.  The moss-covered trees and waterfalls I had enjoyed and photographed on the way up were now blurred as I sped by.  It had taken me a little over four hours to climb from the 1,200’ Alder Lake boat ramp to the Paradise Inn at 5,450’.  I was back at the truck in a little over two hours on this downhill ride. This trek is another great memory that will stay with me forever.   Now it’s time to rest up and plan my next trip.  Will this great weather hold?  Maybe I’ll hit Mt. St. Helens.

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About Bruce Bosman

Join me as I ride my mountain bike up and over the incredible mountains of Washington State. Although this blog may appear to be a testament to my accomplishments, this was not my intent. Compared to the challenges that many face every day mine are insignificant. My hope is that you will appreciate these photos and stories as you join me on my Mountain Quest. I recognize and pray for all of you that face adversity and struggle to overcome mountains in your everyday life. We all have bad experiences, excess baggage, and debris that pile up to create obstacles in our life. Much of my mountain is made up of the accumulative stress and incidents that 29 years of a law enforcement profession and life brings. If allowed to go unchecked these mountains can become impassable and will block out the sun. I challenge myself and you to face our mountains and conquer them. Even if it is one step or one pedal stroke at a time, work to overcome the obstacles that life puts before you. Push through the pain and embrace the challenges. Work to make your life and the lives of others better. Look for the beauty that this world and life has to offer you. . Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)
This entry was posted in Bicycling, Mountains, Mt. Rainier, Paridise, Photography. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mt. Rainier, Paridise

  1. Jeff Katzer says:

    I remember this road well. Many years ago I did the RAMROD… Ride Around Mt. Rainier One Day… Yikes, 158 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. I’ll never forget grinding up the road in my granny gear, seeing a road sign that announced Paradise Lodge 14 Miles. I looked at my cycle computer and it reported I was bombing along at 6 MPH (insert a simple math equation) and I was shattered to realize, for the next 2-1/2 hours I was gonna be doing exactly what I was doing at that very moment. Grinding along in my lowest gear…. What fun. Oh, I did get a T-shirt for that ride :)

  2. Forrest says:

    This is the route I intended to take when I tried to ride up Paradise. It was going to be a strenuous but joyful ride up a major Cascade volcano, and a chance to enjoy some of the finest mountain scenery anywhere. Fate, however, was against me. I got a flat, using tubular tires, and wasn’t able to repair it.

    Even then I’m on a light weight road bike. I can’t even imagine trying a climb like that on a MTB! I bet it was a screaming descent, though!!

    PS – Your images aren’t loading for me. :(

    • Bruce Bosman says:

      Thanks Forrest. Bummer to hear that your ride was ruined by the tire issue. Yes, riding the mountain roads on a MTB with extra gear adds to the workload. I do my rides without support or a partner so it is good that I have all the gear I need with me. Thanks for the feedback on the fail to download issue. I am checking with other followers to see if they have seen the same problem and I will work to correct it. “Screamin descents” are the pay off for the hours of grinding. So far I would put going east off of Washington Pass and the first ten miles off of the top of Hurricane Ridge at the top of the list of bullet rides.

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