At 5000 feet in the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park, one is still 9000 feet from the summit, in spring it makes rare, unscheduled appearances. From the visitor center, we did glimpse the summit for a glorious 5-10 seconds, it's curved, snowy, outline barely discernible from the clouds behind it.
Wind and snow decide how tall and how straight the trees grow here, and even in late May many struggle to peek out of the snow. They are called krummholtz, a German word meaning twisted and crooked.
Shrouded in cloud, Mt. Rainier is a mysterious force. It is considered an active volcano, which is more concerning having visited Mt. St. Helen's. 25 glaciers adorn the mountain which would melt in the case of an eruption, forming a violent mudflow that would travel for miles into populated areas. But, that is unlikely. Kind of.
Even on a rainy day, the park is amazing. The mountain road to 'paradise' is windy and wonderful and full of viewpoints. Granted, viewpoints with little to no view, but it's the thought that counts. We were still able to see waterfalls, a few tourists, and stand in an ancient lahar. The visitor center was wonderful and had the requisite inspirational video and scary volcano section of the exhibit. While we were there, the building nearly fell over when one of the rangers announced that the summit was visible, as every tourist flocked to the windows, hungry for a glimpse of this mammoth. The glimpse was fleeting, and only added to the mystery and majesty of this mountain.