Today I rode my 2020 BMW 1250 GSA bike to Mount Rainier by way of the National Park highway, highway 7 that runs through the towns of Elbe and Paradise before reaching the park’s entrance. What a ride. At first I thought I was going to be closed in by trees throughout the ride but, when I stopped to put on rain gear I met this guy. He told me he was a cement guy all his life before turning into an iron fabrication sculptor. He said he found all this free metal around the area and then it became an addiction. 49 years and still going strong.
The mountain is this large inactive volcano that resides in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest. Mt Rainier National Park is a short one hour moto ride away from my son and his family. I am using this allotted time of my life to bond with my two young grandkids; four year old Buzz Lightyear Elliott, one year old Aubrey bear and Zena, the wonder dog.
And then while standing up on my foot pegs to stretch my legs I see this train up ahead. I start to make out the place; The Hobo Lodge. How cool. I see two bearded guys out front; me thinking they own the place, we start chatting away. It turned out they were hiking Rainier yesterday, nearly froze in the snow and needed someplace warmer than their tents. Each rail car has a theme, one even has a jacuzzi. The one they were in was $140/night.
Mt. Rainier is 14,411 feet tall and today I almost got to see it. I asked a park ranger where it was and he said the fans they use to clear out the clouds are still broken. The town of Elbe Washington is the home station for the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad. You can also ride this train along its 14-mile roundtrip journey enjoying the thrill of riding an authentic steam powered locomotive and open-air passenger cars and restored coach cars. The place is just starting to open up so not many tourists around. The only other two riders turned out to be from Indiana riding their Moto Guzzi’s.
And then I got hungry. I found up ahead a Ukranian restaurant. Give me breakfast and a latte. This is what I got. Simply delicious.
Further up Rte. 706 there are many hiking opportunities like the one to see the Narada Falls. It is here where the Paradise River takes a 168 ft dive. Further up the route you will find the most visited spot in the park – Paradise.
Next on the route you travel along a section known as Stevens Canyon Road. Along this section you travel along canyons, see numerous lakes and waterfalls and view the pristine Reflection Lakes (just thawing out but, still very frozen) offering images of Mt Rainier (that I obviously didn’t see) on the lake surfaces.
Towards the end of the run you will make your way unto the highest point accessible by motorized vehicles Sunrise point. Not yet open. From here you will take in the most impressive views of the looming Mt. Rainier to the west as well as other peaks among the Cascades. You can also see the largest glacier in the continental United States Emmons Glacier.
It rained on me about six times, then the sun came out, the brightness hurt my eyes. This needs further explanation. It Rains. Then you ride about a mile. Then it’s all suddenly Clear, dry, and sunny. Then you go for about another few miles. Then it rains. I even looked up thinking that this was the end of the Truman shows boundary limits.
Further explanation. The Truman show is similar to the twilight show however, this guy Truman played by Jim Carrey is in a city whereby the city and the surroundings somehow revolves around him. It all felt good and then it began to rain on me again.
Overall the road conditions are almost ideal for zigs and zags and people on the road are very accommodating. No one wants to slow a bike down.
On the way out of the park I see a guy setting up to sell freshly picked Mt Rainier cherries. For $5 I got a bagful.
Next stop. Seattle
Final stop: Canada if they are open.