Tag Archive | Longmire

President’s Day Weekend 2018: Snowshoe Day!

The second day of our trip, we had an amazing breakfast, which was included in our room price.  Then we headed out to for our first weekend snowshoe.  I showed Paula how to put her snowshoes on – it took a little doing, but soon we were on our way.

Paula and me snowshoeing

We hiked the Trail of the Shadows for our first hike, which is a fairly short, level loop hike directly across from the National Park Inn.  I have always liked this hike, because it takes you past the cabin of Elcaine Longmire, the son of James Longmire, who first established Mount Rainier as a tourist destination by touting the hot springs in the area as medicinal (they weren’t).  There are also some ruins of the structures built around the springs for use by the tourists.

The Trail of the Shadows also has some amazing old growth forest, with giant Western Red Cedars and other trees that have lived in this forest for hundreds of years.

Towards the end of the loop, we decided to hike up the hill for a bit on the Rampart Ridge Trail.  We knew we weren’t going to do the whole trail, but we hiked up the hill for a while and rested when needed.  Paula had a great time, and I was so happy to have a new snowshoeing friend!

We went back to the lodge and had a lunch from the cooler we had brought with meats and cheeses.  While we were eating, the power went out, and then came back on.  We learned later that they had switched us over to a generator after the power went out, because a tree had come down over the road leading into the park.  No one was getting in or out for several hours, which meant we had a really quiet afternoon!

My car – day 2

After lunch, we hiked over the bridge near the Inn to go check out the river and a few historic structures on the other side.  The Longmire Wooden Truss Suspension Bridge is a suspension bridge that was built in 1924.  You can drive across it too, but it doesn’t lead anywhere for cars on the other side of the bridge.  The snow was coming down, and it was so beautiful!  There is really nothing like the peace of a lightly falling snow – the sounds are muffled, and it just makes me happy to see the landscape covered in white.

We came back to the Inn and got hot chocolate (we may have added a little homemade liqueur) and sat on the porch for a bit, enjoying the afternoon.  We had a late lunch in the restaurant (lunch there is cheaper than dinner), and were able to skip dinner because lunch was so filling! I had a burger and fries.

Our evening was spent drinking wine, playing games and socializing in the game room.  It is nice that not having cell service, phone or TV encourages people to come together and actually talk!  There were several nice people at the Inn that weekend, and we had a chance to hear their stories.  We even talked about all coming back the same weekend next year!  It was a great end to another really good day.








Mount Rainier 2015: National Park Inn

I finally got the opportunity to stay inside a National Park!  And I didn’t even have to camp!  We stayed at the National Park Inn, which has a long and storied history. James Longmire (for whom the Longmire Historic District is named) was one of the first white settlers to visit the region and establish a business presence.

Longmire homesteaded in Ashford, the closest town outside the park, and began building roads and trails into the area. He transported tourists to the park via a wagon road to bathe in the Longmire District’s mineral waters. Over the next several years, he built a small hotel and expanded the trails in the area up toward Paradise.

A cedar stump showing what was happening at specific points.  This tree was alive when Lewis and Clark visited the Pacific Northwest.

A cedar stump showing what was happening at specific points in history. This tree was alive when Lewis and Clark visited the Pacific Northwest.

In 1906, the Tacoma and Eastern Railroad built the original National Park Inn, across the street from Longmire’s 30 rooms of assorted tents, cabins and hotel rooms. Longmire had died by this time, but his family was operating the business, and were irritated by this, and it soured Longmire’s relationship with the park’s administration. In 1916, the family leased their property to the Longmire Springs Hotel Company, who built another hotel and additional cabins.

A few years later in 1919, park administration achieved a long time goal of having only one concessionaire, and a deal was reached that transferred all the buildings to the Rainier National Park Company, who operated the 1906 National Park Inn. The 1916 hotel building was moved across the street and became the National Park Inn Annex – this building contained 17 guest rooms. The 1890 hotel, and all the tents and cabins that the Longmires had built were demolished, to improve the appearance of the area.

In 1926, the original National Park Inn burned down, leaving only the Annex, which is the current National Park Inn! What stories this old building must have!

The National Park Inn

The National Park Inn

Other historic structures in the Longmire District include:

  • General Store, originally built in 1911 as the Hiker’s Center
  • Museum and Visitor’s Center, built in 1916 as the first administration building
  • The Library, built in 1916 as the Community Kitchen
  • The Community Center, built 1927
  • The Administration Building, built 1928
  • The Service Station, built 1929.
The Administration Building and Visitor's Center at Longmire

The Administration Building and Visitor’s Center at Longmire

We checked in and made a reservation for dinner about 30 minutes later – enough time to change our clothes and refresh a bit. The restaurant in the Inn can be described as fine dining in a casual atmosphere; we were dressed in jeans and hiking shoes and didn’t feel out of place – perfect for a National Park!

The Porch at the National Park Inn

The Porch at the National Park Inn

Jon ordered the Rainbow Trout with a Deschutes IPA. I had the Pork Loin with tea to hydrate. Both of our meals were delicious and the service was excellent; the only disappointment was the price of Jon’s beer. $7.75 for a 12 oz. bottle! That’s sports stadium pricing! I decided to wait for my wine until we went back to the room; we had brought a bottle with us.

Jon's Rainbow Trout at the National Park Inn Dining Room

Jon’s Rainbow Trout at the National Park Inn Dining Room

Our room was simple, neat and clean but small, and the bathroom harkened back to yesteryear. There are no TVs at the National Park Inn, no cell service, no phones in the room and no Wi-Fi. Forced interaction! Jon and I went with the flow and played National Parks Monopoly until we got too tired and declared a draw. What a fantastic day!

The fireplace in the game room at the National Park Inn

The fireplace in the game room at the National Park Inn

The next morning, we woke up and went down to breakfast – our hotel stay included a voucher for their made-to-order breakfast – it was delicious! I had the Country Breakfast with eggs over medium, bacon and a homemade biscuit with tea, and Jon had the Veggie Omelet with an English muffin and coffee. Then we showered, packed our things, checked out and got out for a hike!

My country breakfast at the National Park Inn

My country breakfast at the National Park Inn

Mount Rainier National Park History

Mount Rainier wasn’t the first National Park, but it was the first park created from an already established National Forest (then called National Forest Reserves). At the time, the Forest Reserves were intended to protect land under Gifford Pinchot’s philosophy of “conservation through use,” which conflicted with John Muir’s preservationist mindset. Lucky for us Washingtonians, we had Muir on our side. He had visited Mount Rainier in 1888 and felt re-invigorated by his trip; he rededicated himself to the cause of preserving nature through a series of National Parks.

With support from the Sierra Club, the National Geographic Society, the Northern Pacific Railroad, and business leaders in Seattle and Tacoma, WA, the Pacific Forest Reserve (designated in 1893 and enlarged and renamed Mount Rainier Forest Reserve in 1897) was converted by Congress and President William McKinley to Mount Rainier National Park on March 2, 1899. It was this nation’s fifth National Park.

Mount Rainier from the Longmire Historic District

Mount Rainier from the Longmire Historic District

Today the park encompasses 236,381 acres (369.35 square miles), and its main feature is the 14,410 foot stratovolcano Mount Rainier. The mountain is the highest in the Cascade Range, and has valleys, waterfalls, sub-alpine meadows, old-growth forest and over 25 glaciers; Rainier has the highest number of glaciers in one place in the lower 48 states.

Several Native American tribes have used the park for hunting and gathering for thousands of years, but there is no archaeological evidence of permanent habitation within the boundaries of the park. Artifacts found within the park include projectile points and hunting artifacts (the projectile point dates to 4,000-5,800 BP) and a rock shelter.

In its early days as a National Park, Mount Rainier was popular for its mineral springs in the Longmire District of the park. James Longmire was largely responsible for the first development in this section and the entire park is designated as a National Historic Landmark District today. Later on, hiking, skiing and snowshoeing became more popular with tourists, especially after the opening of the road to Paradise and the Paradise Lodge in 1916.

The Wonderland Trail draws many adventurers – it is a 93 mile hiking trail that circles the park. You can hike the whole thing, camping along the way, or choose a section for a day hike. Mount Rainier is also popular with mountaineers, with over 10,000 summit attempts each year – about 50% are successful. Unfortunately, since Mount Rainier became a National Park in 1899, 116 people have died climbing the mountain. A total of 411 have died within the park boundaries; this total includes those who died climbing and those who were engaged in other recreational pursuits.

Sadly, some of the people who are drawn to the wilderness don’t come for benevolent purposes. On January 1, 2012, Benjamin Colton Barnes murdered Park Ranger Margaret Anderson while trying to flee into the wilderness. Barnes had shot 4 people at a New Year’s Eve party in Renton, WA – two critically – before arriving at the park heavily armed. After a manhunt involving 200 law enforcement officers and a swift water rescue team, Barnes was found dead of drowning (hypothermia contributed) in Paradise Creek.

I mention Ranger Anderson’s murder because it was so significant for us in the Pacific Northwest.  It is the only time I know of when an entire National Park was closed and evacuated during a manhunt.  It was huge news and a true tragedy when considering what our National Parks stand for.  However, 1,038,229 people visited the park in 2011, so despite the dangers of mountain climbing or accidents, the mountain is still very safe for visitors.

The entrance to Mount Rainier at Longmire - sparkling in the light of a gorgeous spring morning!

The entrance to Mount Rainier at Longmire – sparkling in the light of a gorgeous spring morning!

Jon and I spent a spectacular sunny and warm weekend there in April, staying at the National Park Inn in the Longmire District. Despite growing up so close, neither of us had visited Mount Rainier before!  I will tell you about our visit in my upcoming posts!