|Historic Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier National Park|
When we say that summer doesn't really start until after the Fourth of July around here, we're not kidding.
I'm here at Paradise to help celebrate Washington's national parks with the Board and friends of Washington's National Parks Fund, who were invited to give the Paradise staff a warmup night before opening to the public for the season.
While we love our three national parks here in Washington (Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades), with the federal sequestration and diminishing government funds, the parks need additional help. Enter the Washington's National Parks Fund, a nonprofit organization that raises private funding to support the parks in numerous ways.
Founded 20 years ago by prominent and concerned Washingtonians such as former Governor and Senator Dan Evans and Melinda Gates, the Fund provides funding and guidance for many worthy park projects. From monitoring marmots in Olympic National Park to restoring the historic lampshades at Paradise Inn to engaging urban youth as trail stewards in North Cascades National Park, the Fund disburses volunteers and funding for these and more efforts.
|The hand-painted lampshades at Paradise Inn depict native wildflowers in the park.|
My personal history runs deep in several Western national parks, and I'll admit a nostalgic yet thoroughly contemporary passion for all the Northwest national parks. So I'm thrilled to be invited here to Paradise for this event; I never tire of coming to Rainier.
Our evening starts with appetizers and socializing in the main lobby bracketed by warming fires in the stone fireplaces, followed by an excellent dinner in the dining room. I'm excited to rub shoulders with friendly Northwest climbing legend Lou Whittaker, co-founder of Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. (RMI).
|Washington's National Park Fund Executive Director Laurie Ward and Northwest icon Lou Whittaker. Photo by Harlan Brown.|
|Excellent fresh halibut dinner served at Paradise Inn.|
When we arrived in the afternoon, the outside of the lodge looked like this:
And the next morning it looked like this:
After a buffet breakfast, we're treated to a tour of the historic Guide Service building built in 1920 and the original ranger station, part of the Paradise Historic District. When most of us depart late morning, everyone helps each other dig out of the snow, including park staff.
|Tramping to the historic Guide Service building at Paradise.|
|Mount Rainier National Park Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout helps shovel snow in the parking lot.|
If you'd like to learn more about this great organization and help support scientific research, youth programs, and more for Washington's national parks, just click here!