Archive for the ‘Mount Rainier’ Category

Mount Rainier double

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Sunrise on opening day

I’ve been looking forward to hooking up with Janelle again after our excellent winter trip to Mazama Ridge, and the opening day of the Sunrise Road was the perfect opportunity to hike with a Mount Rainier expert.

Little Tahoma

There was a little more snow than we were expecting, but the general consensus is that we’re 3-4 weeks ahead of last year when it comes to snow melt. It’s certainly better than in 2011 when JK skied to Burroughs Mountain on Fourth of July weekend!

Frozen Lake

We started our day with a snowy traverse to Frozen Lake, followed by a dry trail the rest of the way to Fremont Lookout.

The trail to Fremont

Unfortunately we didn’t see any marmots by the lookout, but we did smell one. Well, we decided it was either weed or a wet marmot. Or a wet marmot smoking weed.

Fremont Lookout and Grand Park

Anyway, our rodent search paid off on the way back when the boulders by near Frozen Lake were suddenly lousy with marmots. Marmots! I love them.

It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!

It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!

Hello marmot



We couldn’t hang out with them for too long though; we still had another trail to hike – my first overnight of the year!

Fremont Lookout | 5.6 miles | 800 feet elevation gain –

Still a couple of snowfields to traverse to get to Frozen Lake

Janelle drove us back down Sunrise Road to the Crystal Lakes trailhead where we saddled up and started hiking.

Janelle in hell

Unfortunately, we had forgotten that we were in the midst of an unseasonable early heatwave and that hiking uphill with overnight packs in the middle of the day might not be the best idea. It was incredibly muggy as well, much too muggy for the west coast. It was really getting to Janelle, and I felt so bad for her. I’ve had heat exhaustion before, and it just sucks the life out of you.

Mist on the lake

I did my best to cool her off by pouring cold water on and in her wherever we could find a stream. I think the thought of jumping in the lake at the end of the trail was what really kept her going, though.

Bare campsite

She powered through it like a champ and luckily felt better as the evening progressed. It helped that the lake and our campsite were gorgeous.

Tent life Misty Crystal

Floating head

In the morning it was my turn to feel crappy. I barely got any sleep and had a pounding headache – I guess I was dehydrated too. Janelle brought water and a Kind bar to my tent, and after I had that and a strong cup of coffee, I felt almost back to normal.

Crystallized Mukmuk

Still, we decided to skip our planned hike to Glacier Basin and just lounge by the lake for a while before heading back to civilization. It wasn’t such a bad place to spend a lazy Saturday morning.

Crystal Lakes | 6 miles | 2300 feet –

Crystal Peak

Amazing Mazama

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

After about a year of planning to hike together, fellow nwhiker and hike-a-thoner Janelle and I finally made it happen. The destination was obvious – our beloved Mount Rainier.

Uh oh, clouds moving in

Janelle hikes more on that mountain than anyone I know, and like me, she never gets sick of it. We keep returning to the same places over and over again, but it never feels the same.

Janelle's home away from home

This time, it felt cold. Really really cold. (This seems to be the general theme of my trip reports lately, especially since I missed out on the latest inversion.)

We climbed up to Mazama Ridge just as the mountain decided to hide behind a curtain of clouds. We sat down for an early lunch and briefly considered just going home. But then, ooh! aah! magic started happening!


The mountain reappeared, and at the same it started snowing perfect, tiny snowflakes, like someone was sprinkling glitter all over us.

Perfect snowflakes

Buoyed by the beauty, we abandoned all thoughts of leaving. In fact, it turned into one of those ‘we don’t wanna leave’ days.

Skin tracks

Luckily we could feel our toes again now that we were moving, so we were able to hang out in Paradise the rest of the day.

It don't get no better than this

Janelle is usually quite the early bird, so I was pretty pleased with myself when I influenced her to try a more Ingunnesque schedule – staying for sunset.

Paradise Inn

She seemed to enjoy it.

Happy Hikingqueen

This was definitely one of my favorite winter trips to Mount Rainier – I can’t imagine a better way to bond with a new friend.


HaT #9-10: Cabineering

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Since we’re getting close to December and Hike-a-Thon took place in August, I should probably finish up my damn recaps already.

My friend Dani is lucky enough to be in possession of a wonderful mountain cabin nestled in the eastern foothills of Mount Rainier and, luckily for me, kind enough to invite her friends there often. This time, the plan was to have a girls’ weekend, but somehow I ended up staying for five days. That cabin is hard to leave.

This photo needs Smell-o-vision

Sure, I had Hike-a-Thon miles to cover, but the main focus of the trip was to hang out with friends old and new while marinating our livers in Disaronno. Nevertheless, I did manage to squeeze in two short hikes in the middle of all the debauchery.*

Hike-a-Thon 09: Naches Peak Loop

Man alive, Naches Peak Loop was amazing! I had never even considered hiking it before because it’s just so short and so crowded, but the views you get during those quick three miles are to die for – and I think I was too high on the smell of lupine to care about the crowds.


– Naches Peak Loop | 3 miles | 600 feet elevation gain –

Sheep Lake snack

The highlight of the trip was seeing Josie released back into the wild after months and months of ACL rehab. It was amazing to watch – first we decided to test her knee on the flattish hike to Sheep Lake…and then she felt good enough to continue up the not-so-flat part to Sourdough Gap…and then she pushed on to the Crystal Lakes Overlook, completing 7.5 miles on her first real walk since March. She’s pretty awesome. And she’s proof that Disaronno gives you superpowers.

Back in the game

– Crystal Lake Overlook | 7.5 miles | 1100 feet elevation gain –

Hike-a-Thon 10: Sourdough Gap

*we’re quite the wild group of old, married bookworms.

We heart Cabin!

HaT #3-5: White River Vacation

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Three weeks into Hike-a-Thon, my stats are as follows: 78 miles hiked, 20,200 feet of elevation gained, a whole bunch of trip reports not yet written, and $290 raised for trails. Thank you so much for your donations!!

(I was even getting close to my t-shirt fitting comfortably, but after spending a week on the couch eating ALL THE THINGS in order to settle a queasy belly, I fear I’m back to square one in that department.)

Hike-a-Thon 03

My favorite part of the month (so far) was my last-minute vacation at White River Campground in Mount Rainier National Park. JK and I started the trip by hiking to Skyscraper Mountain.

Skyscraper bound

I think pretty much every trail that starts at Sunrise is a winner, but Skyscraper is a favorite of ours since you get to hike through the gorgeous meadows in Berkeley Park and up a peak with volcano views in every direction.

Yay, flwrz!

Unfortunately, it was way too hot for the lardy marmots to be out, but we did see two bears (from afar, very afar).

My Ferdinand

This marmot was overheating too, so we figured a dip in Shadow Lake would be nice…until we saw the no swimming signs. Boo!


– Skyscraper Mountain & Shadow Lake | 9.5 miles | 1400 feet elevation gain –

After Skyscraper, JK dropped me off at White River and drove off to get back to work/real life/the nutrias while I got to spend the next two days reading Jitterbug Perfume (excellent) and hiking (beyond excellent).

My home for two lovely nights

I was planning to hike to Summerland the next day, but when I woke up to cloudy skies and a couple of raindrops on my tent, I took it as a sign that I should sleep in and keep reading. It cleared up by early afternoon, so I went out for an easy stroll to Glacier Basin. The trailhead was next to my tent!

Glacier Basin

I didn’t have high expectations of Glacier Basin, so I was pleasantly surprised to find an inviting, green meadow and a cute frog pond which provided an excellent view and a place to enjoy a piece of Sin Dawg.

I kept an eye out for the famous Glacier Basin bear, but all I saw was a steady stream of climbers coming down from the Emmons route – some of them looking very motivated by the relative proximity of beer and fried foods, most looking like exhausted zombies.

Woodstock Festival

– Glacier Basin | 6 miles | 1600 feet elevation gain –

After much reading and another night’s snooze (dreaming about beets), I headed out for the main part of my trip – Summerland!

Good morning Tahoma Little Tahoma looks strange from this angle

Since I was on foot, I had to hike on the Wonderland Trail just to get to the trailhead…which turned out to be an extra five miles round trip of not very interesting forest. But hey, more miles for Hike-a-Thon, yes?


At least the miles were easy and went by quickly, so it didn’t take too long before I could sit down on a rock at Summerland and just take it all in – Little Tahoma from a unique angle, a lenticular cloud cap on Mount Rainier, and a meadow that was absolutely LOUSY with marmots.

Marmot Master

Oh, the marmots!! I was in heaven.

Surprisingly athletic for "butter on legs" Asshole Marmot chases Innocent Marmot

They would eat, chase each other (those chubby little buggers are fast!), eat, fight, eat some more, and then collapse like marmot-skin rugs on the snow. Next time I come to Summerland, I hope it’s on a backpacking trip. I would love nothing more than to spend all day watching my husky spirit animals.

Hot marmot

Unfortunately I had to get back to White River Campground in time for JK to pick me up, so I bid the marmots adieu and reluctantly hiked away from the views.

Miss Manners

The highlight of my hike back to camp was running into Gabi, hiking friend and contributor to Hike-a-Thon – thank you Gabi!! She and her beau were a couple of days into the Wonderland Trail, and looking way too fresh for people who have hiked for days without a shower. She wrote a great report of their adventure on her blog.

Avalanche Lilies Gabi in Wonderland

The second highlight was soaking my feet in an ice cold pool by White River when I came back to camp. That last extra bit of trail seemed to take forever, and my dogs were barking after five hikes in six days. Huge thank yous and snorgles to JK for facilitating the perfect first week of Hike-a-Thon!

– Summerland (from White River CG) | 14 miles | 2600 feet elevation gain* –

(*I didn’t bring a GPS, so these stats are from the Wonderland Trail guidebook. The gain sounds high to me…but in my experience, much of the Wonderland Trail is so well graded that elevation gain feels easier than it usually does.)

Above the fog with a puffy dog

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Last weekend it was time for our annual trip to Noble Knob, this time to share our favorite trail with Carlos, Deborah, and our favorite Small Person, Nathan.

Almost breaking through

In spite of the “mostly sunny” forecast, we spent the approach walking inside of a cloud. A very, very cold cloud. Luckily the trail had lots of eye candy to offer even though Mount Rainier was hiding – all my favorite wildflowers were on display: western anemone, columbine, paintbrush and the always beautiful tiger lily.

John, Paul, George and Ringo Columbine
Magenta Paintbrush Stormy Tiger Lily

We seemed to be right at the cloud line the whole time, and the sun was this close to breaking through…

Golden hour through the fog

…but by the time we made it to camp, we were firmly enshrouded in the fog. It felt more like late September than July, and the nutrias, devoid of fur and fat, spent the evening puppy-piled in JK’s sleeping bag. Brrr. Nathan stayed warm in the tent in his sleeping bag and fancy backpacking suit.

You can stuff your iggies in a sack, mister!

But ahh, Noble Knob came through for us yet again! When we peeked out of the tent in the morning, we were above the sea of clouds, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness peaks rising up as jagged islands in the distance.

Above the clouds

Now that the sun was out, it was warm enough for Nathan to come out and play. Happiest baby on the rock!

Best buds

He also got to take a good look at what will likely be his future playground, Mount Rainier.

Nathan is growing so fast

Wellie and Basil had to pose for photos…

Freshly caught nutrias

…and I got to engage in my favorite pastime, al fresco reading.

Book club with a view

While I reread Wild and Deborah was on baby duty, the boys (minus Nathan) hiked up the Secondary Knob. I took photos of them and tried to make it seem like a harrowing climb…

Boys (minus Nathan) on the ridge

…but actually it looked like this:

Little Knob

It might have been an easy ascent, but the mosquitoes were ferocious. By the time they made it back to camp, Basil had been gnawed on by so many bugs that his whole face swelled up. Nathan graciously donated some of his Baby Benadryl, and JK and I packed up as fast as we could.

Poor, poor Basil

We left the others on the summit since packing up and hiking out with a baby takes a bit longer and we didn’t want to take any chances with Basil. Surprisingly, he didn’t seem bothered by the situation at all, he was his happy self and in full-on explorer mode.

He got lots of sympathy from the White River 50 Mile runners we met along the way, and by the time we got back to the car, the antihistamines had worked their magic and Basil looked almost back to normal. From now on we’ll always carry nutria-appropriate doses of Benadryl (10mg) with us, and put cedar oil on Basil to keep the bugs away. Poor little guy.


Noble Knob | 7 miles | 500 feet elevation gain –

Group shot!

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