When I accepted a job at Geocaching HQ and moved to Seattle, my former co-workers gifted me a one-year National Parks pass. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t use it until last month. We were just so busy visiting state parks and forest lands that Mount Rainer National Park escaped our travels for too long.
We’ve made up for missed time, though, by visiting the park twice in five weeks. Our main geocaching targets came from the Visit Rainier Centennial GeoTour. When complete, the GeoTour will consist of 100 geocaches highlighting the Mount Rainier region. Two series of 25 caches have been released thus far. (The next two series come out in May and September of 2016.)
Today began near Enunclaw, northwest of the mountain. By sunset we had circled the mountain clockwise. The sky was clear, the sun bright and the scenery stunning. Among the caches that earned favorite points:
Rainier100 2: Melmont Ghost Town. During the early 1900s, the Melmont mine produced 750 tons of coal per day. Little is left of the town today. But it’s interesting to think of how this area must have bustled 100 years ago. To find the cache, you walk over the very cool O’Farrell Bridge, make your way down to a trail and walk about 0.3 mile to the cache. We ran into three other cachers (a pair from Oregon and one from Eastern Washington) and enjoyed finding the cache with them.
Rainier100 2: Carbon River Aggradation. I love a well-written, easy-to-understand EarthCache in a sweet location. This EC is all of those things. The Carbon River was very calm today, but this EarthCache demonstrates how the area has seen some stormy times.Particularly during the 2006 flood, when 18 inches of rain fell in just 36 hours!
Rainier100 1: Suntop Lookout. Absolutely spectacular. If I were to take a visitor to the Rainier region, this is what I’d want them to see. Mount Rainier is just 10 miles south of this point. We could also see the Cascades, the Olympics and even Mount Baker 150 miles to the north!
Rainier100 1: Deep Creek Falls. I don’t get why this cache is only 12 percent favorited. A pine needle covered trail leads you to the cache, just steps from rushing water. It’s quintessential Pacific Northwest! Many of the nearby cabins have been here since the 1920s.
Rainier100 2: Think Inside the Box. By the end of the day, we were inside the national park to visit a couple more EarthCaches. This one turned out to be our 13,000th geocache find! It was a fitting cache for the milestone, as we enjoyed really cool views of Box Canyon.
We’ve got a bit more work to do before finishing Series 1 and 2 of the Visit Rainier Centennial GeoTour. I’m hoping we can get back there before snow flies. If you’re near Seattle, it’s absolutely well worth your time to devote at least a few days to this remarkable region.