Unchallenged king of the Cascades is Mount Rainier, symbol of the Pacific Northwest and icy jewel in the crown of America's National Park system. Though surrounded by the scenic, rugged ridges of the South Cascades, a premier mountain range in their own right, the great volcano is somehow untouchable, towering far above these peaks, its double-cratered, steaming summit a place where mortals fear to tread. Draped with shining glacier ice, and decorated with a colorful lei of wildflower meadows, it can appear serene on a sunny summer day. But geologists know of the glowing-hot avalanches and devastating mudflows that have swept from the collapsing cone during past eruptions, entombing everything in their path. "The Mountain" reminds everyone living in its shadow what a tenuous hold our own species has on this most restless edge of the North American continent.