I’m packing up and organizing my things. The movers come May 3rd and 4th; I’ll be driving out of Washington State for Tennessee by May 7th. As I get ready to move on, I wanted to take a moment and publish a few Photo Finish columns detailing some of the greatest places I’ve seen in this sate during my two years living here.
Washington State possesses numerous iconic buildings, locations, and mountains. I reckoned I’d like to start this Photo Finish series by focusing on the BIGGEST iconic object Washington boasts. This is the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48 states, the largest volcano in the Cascade Range, and the image celebrated on Washington State’s primary license plate: Mount Rainier!
Mount Rainier is a stratovolcano, meaning it’s built of alternating layers of lava and explosive debris. Stratovolcanoes are the ones that create the iconic cone-shaped mountains we see in the movies. Mount Rainier’s roots go back over 2.9 million years, but the present cone towering over Washington is more than 500,000 years old. The mountain surges to a height of 14,411 feet (4,392 meters). The volcano is still active, with up to five earthquakes recorded a month, meaning the magma chamber deep below is still boiling, roiling, and bubbling.
Mount Rainier poses a major threat to the Pacific Northwest, especially the towns in its shadow and cities suck as Tacoma, Olympia, Bremerton, and even Seattle. However, Mount Rainier is also one of the most closely watched volcanoes on the planet, and there are warning systems in place in case the area needs to be evacuated. The last confirmed eruption of Rainier was in the 1850s (small explosions at the summit crater), but eyewitnesses have testified to seeing steam and other minor eruptive activity all the way to the end of the 19th century.
I first visited Washington State in 2018 during my Grand Tour USA, and that’s when I first met what we locally call The Mountain. The national park around the mountain has been my favorite hiking site ever since I moved here in 2019, so let’s take a look back at this magnificent mountain!
If you’d like to watch a short, but very solid, video on Mount Rainier, check out GeologyHub’s video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wRAyQiAcwk&list=PLAQJmRWs6m3sJie_m1RCNiW85KbWH-JHx&index=26&t=1s
Next up on this final photo tour of the Evergreen State: Mount St. Helens!!
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