Driving again for three hours convinced me that reserving a room closer to the park makes perfect sense. The Paradise area had a little more snow than we saw in Sunrise the week before. The Reflection Lake was unfrozen, but the snow was still lingering around it. The mountain reflection was disturbed by a light breeze creating waves on the lake surface.
Across the road from Reflection Lake is the trail head for Pinnacle Peak. The trail starts with a long hike through the woods with limited views. The trail was still more than 50% covered in snow. The time for good panoramic views came after gaining some altitude and leaving the trees behind. Unfortunately I can’t say what type of flowers I saw along the way, but they were plenty, colorful and pretty. A huge marmot crossed the trail a few meters in front of me than stopped to chew its lunch while keeping an eye on me taking pictures of it.
The maintained trail ended after a few more switchbacks at the saddle between the Pinnacle and Plummer peaks. A new window toward South opened up to show Mount Adams surrounded by clouds. Encouraged by a fellow hiker, I continued beyond the maintained trail toward the Pinnacle Peak. It was the first time in my life to climb such steep rocks and it was intimidating because others were using ropes and wearing hard hats. Taking pictures became a luxury – I had to put the camera in the backpack and take it out only on stable grounds.
Reaching the top gave me such an adrenaline rush that my knees started shaking. The view of Mount Rainier dominating the Paradise Valley with beautiful dark blue Reflection and Louise Lakes was worth every minute of the hike. Rock-climbing proved to be easier on the way down and we got to the saddle on time to take a few more pictures with the mountain in the background. While hiking down I observed thick clouds surrounding the summit and slowly ruining the view. People were still hiking up and probably ended up enjoy their time less than I did.