There’s a series of three lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, just south of Yosemite National Park. They lie just below the sheer, jagged peaks of The Minarets. Minaret Lake, the southernmost of these, and the most easily accessible from the town of Mammoth Lakes, is one of my favorite places on earth. Pictures of Minaret Lake hang on my wall as reminders. The Minarets represents= my ideal of alpine beauty, and I would go once a month if I could. I haven’t been everywhere, but I’ve been some places(though not yet many in the Cascades) and Rampart lakes have now earned a place alongside them as somewhere I will always want to return to.
The thing that gets me most about Mt Rainier is it’s ‘there-ness.’ On clear day, the mountain hovers over Seattle like a lumpy white ghost, appearing unexpectedly as one comes over one of Seattle’s hills or in between buildings, while crossing intersections. No matter how many times I see it, I find it impossible to take it for granted. We can see it from our apartment rooftop in Ballard, the bottom half cut-off by Queen Anne hill, the disc of the Space Needle superimposed on its middle reaches. After 10 months living in Seattle, it was time to pay Rainier a visit.