Camping at Mt. Rainier

It’s our tradition to go camping at Mt. Rainier for a modest long weekend at some point during the Summer. It’s also tradition to take our au pair along for the ride. We all cram into our trusty “Egg”, a ’98 Honda Civic 3-door, stuffed tightly with kids, food, and camping gear and go tour our local iconic National Park. This year we were waiting anxiously for the park to open for travellers before Vivien’s mid-July move to her extension family in Hawaii. Seizing an opportune weekend post Fourth of July, we nabbed a reservation at Silver Springs Campground and we were set to roll. We have had good luck making the Silver Springs Campground our home away from home while exploring the mountain. It’s nestled just outside the northeastern border of the Park, near Crystal Mountain Ski Resort, in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

With Vivien in tow, we made a grand tour from Seattle to Paradise to Silver Springs. Since the Stevens Canyong Road was still closed due to snow damage, it was a long day driving all the way around the Park through Packwood, but we absolutely didn’t want to miss showing her our beloved Paradise. We arrived at our campsite as dusk was descending into the forest. Michael and Vivien worked together to efficiently erect the tents, aided by headlamp at the tail end. Meanwhile I got the kids in their pajamas and ready for their sleeping bags. It was Lady Kitty’s first night spent in a tent. She didn’t miss a beat, sleeping soundly all night in her Moses basket and Baby Gap Bear Suit, just like at home.

One of our Thermarest sleeping pad was inadvertently left behind. We were short a pad and the ground was crushed gravel, not the softest combination. Michael graciously volunteered to forgo a sleeping pad, since he took responsibility for having miscounted as he was packing the car. I made a quick calculation and prudently elected Lake to give up his sleeping pad instead. I surreptitiously layered Lady Kitty’s cotton diapers under Lake’s sleeping bag, and Lake wasn’t the wiser. I didn’t think it was fair to Michael to be punished for having been the one to do the packing. Also, Michael surely would have felt every inch of the hard ground if he had been the one to sleep without an air mattress, whereas Lake didn’t even blink–he was having the time of his life!

We made a day excursion up to Sunrise, where we enjoyed the incredible panoramic views and played in snow. This day we learned of the passing of Michael’s uncle David Alan Ayres, age 66, fairly suddenly to pancreatic cancer. We spent much of the day reminiscing about the hiking and camping trips Michael had experienced with his father, three uncles (including Dave), and cousins growing up. He shared fond memories with us as we gazed out over the mountains and forested valleys reflecting on a life well lived and the power of family.

Overall, it was a mighty sucessful camping trip. Michael and I were pleased (and we think Vivien, Lake and Lady Kitty were too). We were spared rain or other inclimate weather, and the mountain cleared for one crucial photographic moment. On our last day we stopped to hike one short stretch on the Wonderland Trail through montane forests and gushing waterfalls before heading back to the city. We drove home happy and fulfilled, most of our food eaten, and a little more leg room and worldly experience gained. A perfect Mt. Rainier Motor Tour 2020–I’m glad I spent it with you!

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