Rough wooden fence
Landscape,  Lens-Artists,  Washington State

What a difference a day makes

There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather

John Ruskin

It is well known that mountain climates can be unpredictable, and Mount Rainier in the US North West is no different. After a perfect day in Paradise we had fallen asleep under clear skies; but we woke to thick fog obscuring all the surrounding mountains and indeed everything apart from the trees closest to the lodge. A perfect demonstration for us of the way that the mountain creates its own micro climate, although not an especially welcome one.

Look at the difference in the view from our room, yesterday and today:

Mountain scene with hotel buildings and car parkFoggy view of trees and buildings

We hoped that the sun might emerge and burn off the low cloud and soft dampness in the air. But despite lingering over breakfast at Paradise Lodge, and for a while afterwards, we eventually had to accept that we would probably not see Mount Rainier again. With some miles to drive to our next planned stop, we loaded the car and set off.

Stevens Canyon Road

So much for plans to spend the morning on a slow drive on scenic Stevens Canyon Road, looking forward to seeing, and photographing, Reflection Lake in particular. We could barely see the lake, never mind the classic view of Mount Rainier reflected in it. Soft mist hung over the water, draping the trees around its shores with moisture.

Misty lake with pine trees
A corner of Reflection Lake, minus the reflections

To compare what we saw with what we might have seen, check out JohnBo’s post about a day in the park, or look at the photos on the Visit Rainier website.

We had slightly better luck at our next stop, Sunbeam Creek, where appropriately a watery sun appeared and a glimpse of blue sky between the soft wisps of fog.

We toyed briefly with the idea of returning to Reflection Lake but knew that it would still be some time before the mountain emerged from behind the clouds. As we drove on the fog closed in again almost immediately, reinforcing our decision to press on.

Box Canyon

Our next stop was at Box Canyon where we did the half mile walk to the viewpoint. This lead us past lichen-covered rocks which looked rather atmospheric in the mist. There were pretty tiger lilies growing beside the path, also small-flowered penstemon, bunchberry and several I couldn’t identify.

At the furthest point of the trail it turns to cross a wooden bridge over the canyon. This is a slot canyon, narrow and deep. The waters of the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz River tumble through it, 115 feet below the bridge.

We crossed, then followed the river on its far side back to the road where another bridge, this time of stone, also afforded us good views.


Just before leaving the park we had a pleasant stroll on the short Hot Springs trail at Ohanapecosh. This was once the site of a spa-style resort, long since gone. The springs themselves are small and seemed to me to be warm rather than hot, with only a hint of gentle steam rising from one pool. But the surroundings were pretty and there were some lovely delicate grasses and wildflowers to photograph. I loved the softness of the grass seed heads.

Equally soft were the lichens and mosses that cloaked many of the trees here.


Ohanapecosh was our last stop in Mount Rainier National Park. It had been a brief visit but a fantastic one, especially on our first day when the sun shone and the air was fresh. But now it was time to move on – we were, after all, on a road trip.

And the road in question now was SR 12 which led us east, through ever-improving weather, towards White Pass. Before reaching that point however, Mount Rainier had one more surprise for us. We pulled over at a viewpoint when we spotted other cars parked there, to discover a wonderful view of the mountain. It had at last emerged from that morning’s shroud of fog and was now girdled with soft white cloud. Here we were able to say our farewells to this most majestic of peaks.

Snow-capped mountain and blue sky
Last view of Mount Rainier

When I saw Ann-Christine’s Lens-Artists Challenge theme this week I immediately thought of the soft mists, soft grasses and soft lichens of this day.

I visited Mount Rainier in 2017


    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Janet 🙂 We were pleased to get that final shot but having had great views the previous two days we would have accepted it if it had stayed dull today – that was just a great bonus!

  • mtncorg

    The pressure gradient between the east side of the Cascades and the west is what it is about. I took my cousin’s son on a five day hike around Mt Hood in mid-August one year and the first few hours were in sunshine. As the day progressed, we saw a thunderstorm heading in from the south. We never saw the sun again on the whole hike which was done in a constant rain. I am not sure he ever went out again ;-}

    This weekend, the wife and I went out to look at some local waterfalls. We got our pictures – the waterfalls were nice with heavy runoff from recent snows – but the clouds overhang the whole situation. Naturally, by the time we were almost home, there were no more clouds :-0

  • SoyBend

    When I lived in Seattle, if Mount Rainier was visible, people would say the mountain was “out.” It likes to hide beneath the clouds. I’m glad you got to see the mountain. Looks like you had a nice visit there. Love your yellow glacier lily and purple lupine shots.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Ah yes, I heard people talk in those terms 🙂 We had a wonderful time there Siobhan, with a beautiful snowy walk, lots of flowers and waterfalls, and these misty shots to finish with. We enjoyed our whole time in WA, including Seattle, the Olympic Peninsula, North Cascades and San Juans 😀

  • margaret21

    Oh yes, what a difference a day (or an hour?) makes, especially in the mountains. And yet, if we can get over our disappointment, there’s beauty in the heavy mist, and atmosphere too. But it’s sad if it’s your only – and missed – opportunity to enjoy the views.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      So true Margaret 🙂 We were lucky, we’d had wonderful weather the previous day and beautiful clear views of the mountains. So missing out on this second day wasn’t so bad – it was only the classic reflection shots I’d been really keen to get and as it had been so lovely when we went to bed we had no inkling the next day would be so different! But as you see, we made the best of it and I enjoyed the Box Canyon walk in particular. And we certainly got the sun back later in the day, as we drove further inland. When we had started out that morning, the car’s temperature gauge showed just 50 Fahrenheit; by mid afternoon it had hit 90 F!!

  • Anna

    Wow look at you getting all fancy on this blog! Sliding photos! I’m jealous! 😝😜 Loved your photos of the scenes that are my type of faves! Mountains and greenery ~ magic!

  • wetanddustyroads

    Maybe you did not get that shot of the reflection of Mount Rainier, but you actually got so much more! I love all the soft misty pictures – there are real jewels here 😊.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you 🙂 At the time I was disappointed to miss the reflections shots but looking back on the day later I was very happy with these as alternatives!

  • CadyLuck Leedy

    Sarah these are beautiful photos……you always take photos of objects I do not think of……like the moss on the trees……You know I love the flower photos and the little squirrel! Now please share with me how you do the slider, it makes for a really good contrast here!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you for those kind words 😀 I love to look for details, and I also like colour photos that are all shades of the same colour, like that lichen!

      The slider is made using the ‘Image compare’ block. Just choose that block and it prompts you to add your ‘before’ and ‘after’ image. It works best if the two images are both landscape format and ideally pretty much aligned. I cropped one of these to make it more or less the same angle and positioning as the other. It’s also very effective if you have a monochrome and colour version of the same shot. I learned all about it in a previous photo challenge, one of the Friendly Friday ones. If you want you can see some more examples in that earlier post:

  • Leya

    So many soft images here, Sarah! I love your header, and the use of slider for comparison. Grasses are special to me, moss and lichen are favourites too. A truly enjoyable post!

  • Tina Schell

    Clearly, great minds think alike this week Sarah LOL. Loved your images – proof that there is always something beautiful to see even if it wasn’t what you’d originally planned. We had a similar experience in Alaska. The evening we arrived we had a glorious view of Denali. I shot for an hour or so but it was late and we were exhausted by the travel. I assumed we’d have many more opportunities over the week we were there. No such luck, the mountain never came out again the whole week!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Tina 🙂 Yes, we seem to have been thinking on very similar lines this week 😀 What a shame you only saw Denali that one time! We’d been warned before we went to Mount Rainier that there was a risk we wouldn’t see the mountain, especially as we were only staying the one night, so we were just grateful we’d had that one day of glorious weather.

Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you! And please include your name in case WP marks you 'anonymous' - thank you