On clear days, the mammoth volcano Mount Rainier dominates the Seattle and Tacoma skylines and can be seen from Whidbey Island to Yakima and the central Washington wheat fields. "The Mountain’s out!" is a cheerful local greeting, especially after a long spell of overcast weather. Sunrise to Paradise explores the rich history of this symbol of the Pacific Northwest and the national park that preserves it.
Mount Rainier is the fifth highest peak in the United States outside Alaska, and it soars higher above its immediate base than does any other in the lower forty-eight. Sunrise to Paradise describes its geological and glacial origins and current ecological health, and the century-old stewardship of Mount Rainier National Park. Its stories include accounts by Native people such as Saluskin and Wapowety, climbers from John Muir and Fay Fuller to Willi Unsoeld and Lou Whittaker, and entrepreneurs from the Longmire family to Paul Sceva. Here, too, are the tales of scientists and tourists, park rangers and volunteers. Numerous illustrations span the decades. Some of the photographs were taken from albums of the 1912 and 1915 Mountaineers outings; others are by noted photographers of the past like Imogen Cunningham and Asahel Curtis and by contemporary photographers including Ira Spring. There are paintings by Abby Williams Hill and George Tsutakawa and a series specially created by Dee Molenaar.
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This compendium makes a useful addition to the existing canon of personal accounts, age-yellowed histories, and helpful guidebooks to Washington State's Mount Rainier National Park. Kirk, who has written on both nature and history, lived in the park for five years, and has both climbed and circled Rainier. The book ranges widely, if not too deeply, into just about everything to do with a remarkable natural landscape capped by the highest mountain--from its base--in the lower 48 states.
Kirk ably considers all sides of the park: the local animals, the history and nature of volcanic activity, the politics of the name "Rainier," and the environmental changes wrought by a boom in the region's population. In the "Voices of the Mountain" sections of the book, first-person written and photographic accounts of Rainier experiences highlight human interaction with the mountain over the last century. Centenarian Floyd Schmoe writes about working in the park in the 1920s, and poet Denise Levertov, who never visited the mountain, writes of its effect on her each time she viewed its snowy peak from her home in Seattle: "always loftier, lonelier than I ever remember." Enlivened by photographs on each page, some from as early as the turn of the century, this book is a fascinating introduction to the mountain Native Americans called Tahoma. --Maria Dolan
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