Mount Rainier Travelogue Parte the Seconde: Falling Water Everywhere

One thing’s sure about a mountain perpetually covered in snow: there will be water. We’ve already seen quite a lot, but we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

We were making good time, so when a pullout presented itself for the Carter Falls trailhead, we paused to go play in the Nisqually river. We didn’t have quite enough time to hike all the way to the falls, but we could cross the river. Onna halfa log.

The bridge over the River Nisqually. ZOMG....
The bridge over the River Nisqually. ZOMG….

With only halfa rail, which, let me tell you, makes walking over a very, how shall we say, spry glacial river rather more exciting than some might like. You look down, and there’s this roiling tan water roaring past underneath, beating up the boulders and generally making it clear that if you fall off the log, you’re pulp.

Looking down from the log - I mean, bridge.
Looking down from the log – I mean, bridge.

And all I want to know is, how many times has the river washed out that bridge? Still. Excellent bit of engineering, very rustic, and fit well with the surroundings. I liked it.

The views, of course, were utterly spectacular.

Mount Rainier from the Nisqually River.
Mount Rainier from the Nisqually River.

One day, B and I shall do that entire trail, which seems to go from there to Narada Falls. We took the lazy way and drove along up. We missed the first set of spectacular falls along the way, but stopped at one I’d been wanting to get back to for some time: lovely Christine Falls.

Upper Christine Falls
Upper Christine Falls

You’ve gotta have either courage or a death wish for this part: there’s no sidewalk on the bridge, barely enough room for all the cars and little ol’ you, and the road’s all curvy, so there’s no great line of sight. Tell you what, though, I really don’t mind risking my life for views like this.

There’s a little trail down to a viewing platform where you can see the lower falls:

Lower Christine Falls, plus bridge
Lower Christine Falls, plus bridge

And, of course, there’s another unnamed waterfall along the road there. Lewis and Clarke may have named this range the Cascades because of some excitement in the Columbia River, but they could’ve been talking about the endless waterfalls.

Moi with small falls
Moi with small falls

This one’s falling over some nice, rectangular blocks of what’s probably andesite or basaltic andesite, but don’t quote me because I didn’t take a hammer to it. National Park and all that.

Next stop, Narada Falls. Which is impressive, I’ll admit, but the thing I loved best there wasn’t the pretty falling water, but this:

Look! It's Geology!
Look! It’s Geology!


On your way down the trail, you stepped back in gelogic history 12 million years. You walked from a Mount Rainier lava flow less than half a million years old, to the rocks of the Tatoosh Range that were intruded into this area in the Miocene Epoch.

When you see a little metal sign nestled amongst plants like that, you expect it to be babbling about botany, but someone actually paused to consider that some folks might actually come to a volcano for, y’know, the geology, and obliged. There are, of course, larger signs talking geology all over the place, but this one delighted me most, set to mark off a contact no one but the rock-obsessed would care about or even notice.

After that, for me, the falls were almost an afterthought. But yes, they are lovely.

Narada Falls
Narada Falls

That’s the Paradise River, in case you were wondering. We’ll be meeting up with it again soon. Now, on to Paradise!

Mount Rainier Travelogue Parte the Seconde: Falling Water Everywhere
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9 thoughts on “Mount Rainier Travelogue Parte the Seconde: Falling Water Everywhere

  1. 1

    Thanx for your Mt. Rainier travelogue. I remember visiting the Seattle area a few times in my life, but I never got to see Mt. Rainier up close.

  2. 3

    Lovely, watery travelogue, Dana. I am incredibly jealous of the part of the world you live in! Is it just me or has someone tried to cross out the “12 million years” of that placard?

  3. rq

    Yeah, the no-railings thing is a bit freaky. :) I never knew I was afraid of heights until a couple of years ago, when I was on a ferris wheel that got stuck at the very top. Suffice to say, the kids were not all that excited about the situation. :/
    But I love the stonework. Looks like something out of a story.
    Also, in case you meant the wooden bridge, I’d cross that one anytime. Not so afraid of the roiling water (probably should be, though!).

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