Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Autumn Paradise

Mt. Rainier National Park

The meadows surrounding the Paradise Inn are bursting with color this time of year.  Because of it, this area in Mt. Rainier National Park is also the most congested.  There are nine different trails, ranging from easy one-mile loops to more difficult and longer trails higher up the mountain.

Although we stayed outside the park, I can see the appeal of one-stop shopping.  You could easily plop yourself down at this historic hotel (built in 1916) and go no where else.  Restaurants and hiking trails are all right here.  "Oh, what a paradise!" exclaimed the daughter of park pioneer James Longmire when she first saw this place.  But I wasn't so sure.

The crowds prevent me from waxing too poetic. We were told this area is equally gorgeous in the spring when the meadow is covered with wildflowers but after waiting in lines at the cafe, jostling for a table and then sharing the trail with one too many selfie-clicking tourists, I couldn't wait to leave Paradise.

"Sometimes places are just too well loved," I told my travel buddy.  My own definition of Paradise is far from the madding crowds.  It's a trail where I come face to face with a bear (okay, a small black one) and not another human being.  It's a trail where the flowers have been flattened by a sleeping deer.  Where silence is broken by the screech of a hawk or the flutter of leaves in the wind.

"You're becoming a real misanthrope, you know that?"

"What?  You want to stay?"

He looked back at the fast-approaching millennials in their color-coordinated jogging outfits.  "Nah," he said.  "Let's go find you a bear."

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you. So much love can be too much!
    Hope you found a bear :-) Jazzy Jack