Tesla Model S - Mount Rainier
White Dome Geyser Model S
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Days Charging at
Destination   Supercharger
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Alexander's Lodge
Today I figured out a way to get everyone in my family what they want and struck a compromise.

The problem I was trying to solve was that my wife and children were getting tired by this point. They wanted to sleep in. The car was a champ, so much so the car's performance was vastly outstripping the endurance of the humans onboard. This is yet another instance where human physiology is the bottleneck NOT the technology in this properly-designed all-electric transportation solution.

Case in point is how my daughter in particular was very wary of any "long" hikes after our hike to three waterfalls in Glacier National Park. I knew there were many awesome hikes in Mount Rainier National Park, the destination for today, and I really wanted to go see them and not be held back by my daughter.

Firehole Canyon Drive

The compromise we agreed to took advantage of the fact we were here for two nights. Although Alexander's Lodge provided breakfast, I would make up for it not providing lunch by driving several miles to and from Ashford Valley Grocery, the only grocery store in the area, as soon as it opened at 7 am to buy lunch for me on my hike and for them while they stayed at this pretty and quiet Lodge. My wife and children would sleep in and have breakfast and lunch whenever they wanted.

While my family sleeps in the room, I would drive up into Mount Rainier National Park to hike solo the most ambitious hike I can do in the alloted time. The deal says the family must be ready to go by 2 pm, my estimate for my return. I would then take them on a second, very short hike. My fatigue would make me a better match for my daughter.

It would involve extra driving, including two times in and out of Rainier National Park, but I worked out the numbers and figured out I have plenty of range, even with just a 90% charge.

Mount Rainier So I executed the plan, driving to get lunch, and returning to have breakfast, all before leaving the Lodge at 8 am. I thoroughly prepared for everything except the stunning views awaiting me.

Mount Rainier

Once I crossed into Mount Rainier, the morning views of this large active stratavolcano were absolutely beautiful. I just had to pull over to take a few pictures. I learned only later that such I was very lucky to be welcomed, as my first time here, with such clear skies. This is Washington state, after all, a place known for how it is depressingly clouded over nearly the entire year.

Nothing else looks quite like this place. It's the highest mountain in Washington, and is in fact considered one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world because, based on the repeated eruptive activity occurring as recently as the 19th century, it might erupt again or explode like Mount St Helens did 40 years ago.

For now, Mount Rainier is covered with snow and glaciers that grow and recede seasonally, but may or may not survive climate change this century, so we should go see it while we still can.

Surprise Pool

I already knew from my research last year that I wanted to go see the Paradise region, at 5400 feet altitude, of Mount Rainier National Park. For that reason I chose back then Alexander's Lodge, the one member of the Tesla Destination Network near this side of the Park, for our two-night stay.

TimeEventRange Remaining
8:00 amDepart Alexander's Lodge273
8:43 pmArrive Paradise224
Range/Distance ratio: 2.45
Conditions: Uphill, Sightseeing, 43°F

This place is full of lakes, meadows, waterfalls, trees, and views of rugged mountainsides, all of which contributed to the name. There were so many different great hikes to choose from.

Paradise Parking

The one I ended up choosing was was listed by the Park literature as the most strenuous of the Paradise trails listed under "Strenuous Trails": "5.5 miles round trip. 1700' elevation gain. Average hiking time: 4½ hours." I chose to take this loop hike counterclockwise. The National Park book said this was their highest-rated day hike in the entire Park to see, but the description that convinced me this was my hike wrote "outstanding views" and "you'll be busy taking in a smorgasbord of scenic beauty along the way".

Meadows in Paradise

Skyline Trail
The smorgasbord delivered! Myrtle Falls was a pleasant appetizer, but that opened to a series of flower-filled meadows grandly presented below the Mount Rainier peak. If you didn't like the color of the flowers, hike another minute and it changes to violet, or yellow, orange, or combination bouquets. A few passing deer became a common sight.

The sights were changing as I hiked so fast I could have spent twice as much time taking pictures and admiring the views, but I had a schedule to keep! Like a buffet with more kinds of food than I could possibly handle in one stretch, I was forced to downselect from too many choices.

Meanwhile other visitors to the park brought fancy DSLR cameras with full-sized tripods set on a mission to stay in one spot for quite a while and take dozens of beautiful shots. If only I had that kind of time, because if I did not keep pace my family would not be able to see any of this.

Skyline Trail near Sluiskin Falls

The scenery changed away from meadows that gave way to unique forests of subalpine fir, which yielded to flowing waters of various sizes including Sluiskin Falls. I reached down to feel the water and it was cold, even in August, most likely from snowmelt or glaciers.

Paradise River Crossing

The climb steadily continued. As the trail turned northwest, it had me cross Paradise River. The rocks were obviously artificially placed to guide one to the right path, but I wondered if these get washed away in winter or spring.

Climbing still higher, the hike took me above the river and into packs of snow and ice. I could see the trail enter, disappear under the ice, then reappear on the other side of the ice, so clearly that's were I was to go. I did not have poles, and the best footwear I brought on the trip was old running shoes, but as an experienced skier I have a good handle on how ice and snow acts under my feet, so I was careful enough and handled it fine.

Skyline Snow Crossing

I was expending so much energy I was easily going through my two Clif bars climbing so fast. Meanwhile Mount Rainier delivered on seeing views of this Park and of more Cascade mountains to the south. Again I was very fortunate about the weather, so much so that, as I passed the ridgeline leading to McClure Rock, a seemingly up-close view of Mount Rainier suddenly appeared to me, and in fact startling me so much I yelped as if a bear jumped at me. If the weather wasn't as clear today, Mount Rainier could not have snuck on me like that.

Here was the intersection of Skyline Trail with Pebble Creek Trail, and at this rock outcropping I found a beautiful place to have my ham and swiss croissant sandwich lunch. Again, with the pandemic preventing dine-in seating at restaurants, our solution was to bring lunch with us to someplace beautiful, and this was a prime example. Was your view at lunch on this day as beautiful as this?

I enjoyed my lunch watching the ever-changing Mount Rainier mountain top in front of me and a panoramic view of the Cascade Range behind me. There was even a glacier-fed waterfall I could both see and hear. It's hard to get more awesome than that.

Tripod setup

Lunch View from Skyline Trail

After lunch I also decided to take a moment to use the still mode of my 4K video camera to shoot an expository photo of how I shoot my pictures without anyone else around to put on the front page of this site. My iPhone 11 Pro was secured at the top of the camera mount on top of my tripod, and I triggered the shot with an app on my Apple watch. Also, this picture shows the tripod I had shipped to Sequim a few days ago, to replace the tripods destroyed back at Coeur d'Alene.

After taking in a few more sights I picked up the Skyline trail again, making my way to Panoramic Point (which seems to have views more so of the Cascade Range rather than Mount Rainier) then a close up of Nisqually glacier. By this time the clouds were starting to move in.

From here it was a steep downhill hike that I took quickly for the sake of time, zipping by Glacier Vista, Deadhorse Creek, then reentering a different set of forests and meadows. Other hikers and I even took pictures of a juvenile black bear eating plant leaves. This is the second time we spotted a wild bear on this trip, the first being in Glacier National Park. Juvenile Black Bear near Paradise

After completing the Skyline Trail loop in just 3¾ hours of hiking + lunch + picture stops (over a distance of 6.13 miles with an elevation gain of 1863 feet according to my Apple Watch), I was back down at the Paradise Visitors Center.

Skyline Trail tracked via Apple Watch

Then I immediately needed the restroom. Once that was settled, I obtained two Junior Ranger booklets from the Ranger that I could take back to my children so they could get a head start. The parking lot was far more crowded now than when I arrived, so I was glad to get here so early this morning. Bathroom Anxiety

TimeEventRange Remaining
1:20 pmDepart Paradise219
2:00 pmArrive Alexander's Lodge223
Range/Distance ratio: (negative) -0.21
Conditions: Downhill, Traffic

Nisqually Vista Trail
Making my way back took longer because of some slow RVs and other slow drivers. I arrived promptly by 2 pm, and even then my children weren't quite ready. I wanted to tell them how awesome my hike was, one of my best hikes in decades, but I held off until the drive back up.

TimeEventRange Remaining
2:10 pmDepart Alexander's Lodge223
2:40 pmArrive Paradise174
Range/Distance ratio: 2.45
Conditions: Uphill, Sightseeing

I chose the most strenuous of the "Strenuous Trails" for me; for my family we took, on opposite side of the Paradise area, the easiest of the "Easy Trails" labeled "Suitable for families with strollers" because it was 100% paved. I literally could not make it any easier for my family.

Paradise Parking

Unfortunately clouds persisted around Mount Rainier, yet every once in a while the clouds seemed to tease us that they were about to part for one fleeting exposed view, but alas that almost never happened again that day. Nonetheless a new set of meadows and trees welcomed my family to Paradise. We thought it was beautiful. We even found that juvenile black bear blocking our way.

Meadows in Paradise

On our way back we stopped at Longmire to shop at the gift shop. We looked at the National Park Inn but dine-in seating required advance reservations.

Alexander's Lodge
TimeEventRange Remaining
4:18 pmDepart Paradise174
5:52 pmArrive Alexander's Lodge176
Range/Distance ratio: (negative) -0.1
Conditions: Downhill, Shopping, Sightseeing

After we returned to Alexander's Lodge, we selected the restaurant at Copper Creek Inn for dinner. The wait was long, and generally the food was good. I found a mosquito in my breaded fish, so they gave me that entree for free. Otherwise the food was quite good. We then returned to Alexander's Lodge to wash up and settle in for the night while my car charged there.

Mount Rainier thoroughly impressed me. I experienced far more natural beauty here than I expected. I want to come back again someday to hike more here.

Cost to Charge: $0

Dean E. Dauger holds a Ph. D. in physics from UCLA, where his group created the first Mac cluster in 1998. Dr. Dauger is the award-winning author in multiple American Institute of Physics' Software Contests and co-authored the original, award-winning Kai's Power Tools image-processing package for Adobe Photoshop. After founding his company, Dauger Research, Inc., its debut product, Pooch, derived from Dr. Dauger's experience using clusters for his physics research, was soon awarded as "most innovative" by IEEE Cluster and continues to revolutionize parallel computing and clusters worldwide with its patented technology.

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