17 July 2019
Mount Rainier, an active volcano of 4,392 meters, stands as an icon of the Washington landscape. On August 8, 1888, the famous conservationist John Muir, known as the Father of the National Parks, reached the summit after almost two weeks of enduring spoiled food, volcanic ash windstorms, and falling rocks. Muir penned his experience in Ascent of Mount Rainier helping to raise public awareness to protect the mountain, which later became America’s fifth National Park. The last time that Mount Rainier erupted was in 1894-95, when small summit explosions were reported by observers in Seattle. Today, active steam vents and periodic earth tremors are the evidence of the sleeping giant. Meanwhile, just as Muir described, subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano: “there is a zone of the loveliest flowers, fifty miles in circuit and nearly two miles wide, so closely planted and luxuriant that it seems as if Nature, glad to make an open space between woods so dense and ice so deep, were economizing the precious ground, and trying to see how many of her darlings she can get together in one mountain wreath”.