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Photos: When Mt. Rainier's really big summit can cast a really big shadow

Mt. Rainier casts a huge shadow on a brilliantly painted cloud deck as seen from Olympia. (Photo: Kim Merriman).

Kim Merriman has a front row seat to when the sun can sometimes make a really dramatic entrance to start the new day in Western Washington.

From her perch along Eld Inlet just outside of Olympia, Merriman has taken hundreds of photos over the years of the sunrises, but perhaps none as impressive as Mt. Rainier goes and casts its loooong shadow on the sky.

In the late autumn and into the winter, the sun rises far enough south that it'll be positioned behind Mt. Rainier. If you have a cloud deck at just the right height to allow the sunlight to sneak in underneath it, Rainier will project its shadow on the cloud deck's colorful easel.

"It's pretty spectacular to watch," Merriman said. "It comes and goes in seconds at times."

Spectacular, indeed! The photo gallery above has just a sampling of some of her photos over the years. Note sometimes you can also catch shadows off Mt. St. Helens or even just the taller peaks of the Cascades.

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