I fell down an Internet rabbit-hole late one night when looking for the best campsites in the PNW and tip-toed into our bedroom as Shane was just starting to doze, my laptop balanced on one palm as I leaned over him and asked quietly, “Think you could take a couple of days off in July to camp at Mount Rainier?”  Thus, a reservation at Cougar Rock Campground was secured for one of the last available sites on two of the last available nights.

We wound our way down Paradise Road on a Sunday afternoon, stopping at every turn to ooh and ahh at the panoramic views…

And then settled into camp with some hammocking and reading and game-playing.

After we’d fully chilled-out, we drove down the road to the rushing Nisqually River for more mountain-gazing.

We went for a short hike but soon circled back to the river to perch on a couple of rocks to take in the day’s last rays.

This has gotta be as good as a summer evening at the base of the mountain can get…

Sunday’s sunshine made us hopeful that the drizzle we’d seen in the forecast would stay at bay.  Shane was so bold as to leave the rainfly off the tent that night, but I woke at 2 am to a damp pillow, so he awkwardly (expertly?) strung up our rainfly in the dark, snuggling back into his sleeping bag just as the rain stopped.  It was just a passing shower.

Or so we thought.

We heard the pitter-patter of raindrops around 6 am and burrowed deeper into our sleeping bags, hoping it would let up by breakfast.  At 8 am, as the rain fell harder, we dashed from our tent to the car and zipped up to the Paradise Inn for waffles and bacon.  We would wait out the rain from the cozy interior of the lodge.

At 10 am we were still waiting!  We left the lodge and drove down the mountain, hopeful the rain would let up by the time we hit the hiking trails.

The mist made for some magical landscapes, but was really starting to dash my paddle board dreams!

We eventually found ourselves back in our tent, where we ate lunch and played games and took a monster nap.  Surely the rain would let up later that afternoon.

We heard the pitter-patter stop around 3 pm and hopped into the car, eager to get out and stretch our legs.  We drove toward Snow Lake, stopping along the way to check out gushing Christine Falls.

We pulled up to the Snow Lake trailhead just as the dang rain really started up again.  Of course this couldn’t last all day, so we had a snack in the back of the car while waiting for the skies to clear.

And…the skies didn’t clear.  It was around this time that Shane asked if we should just call it and hightail it back to Seattle and our warm, dry house, but I remained optimistic in denial.  We’d been wanting to explore Rainier for years!  This was our chance, dammit!  I knew I was being entirely unreasonable, but Shane sensed my determination and so we headed back to camp and managed to start a campfire in the drizzle.

Bright side: this weather was good for snuggling.

Dinner was only slightly misty and then Juliette and I managed to get out for a quick stroll around the campground.  It seemed the skies were clearing – Tuesday would be AMAZING!  PLEASE GOD LET TUESDAY BE AMAZING!

The clearing skies clouded over again on Monday night and spilled forth a several-hour downpour, but finally, the rain let up on Tuesday morning as we were breaking down camp.  Juliette declared this the “worstest camping trip ever”.

But when I asked her if she still had fun, she said “of course I did, Mommy!”

We crossed our fingers and headed east toward the Naches Loop trail for that elusive mountain hike.  These misty roads weren’t reassuring…

But we took our time, popping out to take some pictures while the fog burned off (burn fog, BURN!).

We landed at Tipsoo Lake and the Naches Loop trailhead mid-morning and while it was hardly a bluebird day, it wasn’t raining, so we seized the moment and set out into the white abyss.

I love gray and green, but it felt so good to see some new colors along the way.

The mist didn’t lift, but no matter – it was warm and not raining and still all kinds of magical.

We stopped for lunch at the crest of the loop, which apparently offers epic views of Rainier on clear days.  I’ll have to take the other hikers’ word for it.  However, we did manage a brief, beautiful glimpse of Dewey Lake.

These Rainier wildflowers!  They’re the real deal.

This was most definitely worth a full day of rain.

Cheers to these two for sticking it out with me – there’s no one else I’d rather be trapped in a tent with.

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