most of our time at mount rainier was sort of overcast and cloudy. we could view the mountain from our campsite, but most days it was covered up by clouds and fog. but on one of the days during our time there, we awakened to clear blue skies and a great view of the mountain. after some discussion about what to do with this great weather, it was determined that anna and i would go hiking and then tent camp somewhere in the park. so, we quickly assembled all the necessary gear and food and 700 blankets and headed up the mountain.
i talked anna into attempting a 3.5 mile out and back trip to panorama point, with about a 1300′ elevation change. it would be the most strenuous hike she’d ever been on, but she was game. we bundled up and off we went.
we had a bit of excitement when we heard a loud rumbling coming from the mountain. at first we thought it was thunder, but it lasted too long. so we thought maybe an airplane. but that didn’t seem quite right either. then we heard some people shouting that there was an avalanche and pointing off in the distance. we couldn’t see it, but later, we met a girl on the trail who had captured it on video and she showed it to us. it basically looked like just a tiny little puff of powder from this distance, but now knowing where it was, we could see the fresh bit of snow that was exposed on the actual mountain.
anyhow. back to the hike. as we come over a little hill, we noticed a pair of marmots, just hanging out, eating a bit of vegetation. we almost missed them, because they look similar to rocks. can you spot one here?
finally, we reached panorama point!! we stopped for a snack. there were a few other people and we chatted a bit with some of them. there was a couple of girls drinking beers who thought it was hilarious to feed the chipmunks. another couple proudly declared that they wouldn’t tattle. and then, randomly, out of nowhere, a park ranger appeared. it was so awesome. he was only there to take down a sign for winter storage, but watching the dumb wildlife feeders clam up and get nervous was very fun for me.
after some discussion with anna, we decided that instead of turning around and heading back down the 1.7 miles and 1300′, we would keep going along the loop, which went up another 400′ or so feet and was another 3.8-ish miles. so. off we went. up up up.
and then we were at the real top. panorama point only gave us a sweeping view of the landscape facing away from mount rainier. the real top of the trail gave us a 360° view of everything around us. it was amazing.
let me tell you about this bridge. we took this picture. and then about 100 feet down, there was a little side trail to a falls overlook. we were so exhausted and decided not to take that little side trip. when we got home, we realized that the overlook gave a view of one of the most iconic spots in the park. and we missed it. i would venture to say this experience was way better than any one photo of some waterfalls would have been. i’m telling myself that. (google “myrtle falls rainier” if you want to see what i’m talking about).
anyhow, the hike was a success. besides marmots, we saw lots of little creatures. ground squirrels and/or chipmunks, i’m not sure. deer. and even a black bear, who was waaaaaaaay off in the distance, and we only saw because someone pointed it out to us. when we got back to the visitor center, we were surprised to find this staircase, which had been swarming with people every other time we were near it, completely empty. obviously, i made anna take a pic.
we stopped at the cafeteria and got her a slice of pizza for the ride out of the park, to our campsite. and picked up some t-shirts from the gift shop, of course. and then we bid farewell to this wonderful place. on our ride out, we decided to stop at the reflection lakes, to see if they were particularly reflection-y on this day, and lo and behold, they were!
back and camp, we hurried to get set up before it got dark, and then cooked some dinner. i was able to stick to keto by cooking up these smoked sausages. anna just had some snacks, after her giant pizza slice on the ride.
earlier that day, in our haste to get to the park and go hiking, we didn’t make much effort to secure firewood, hoping that we would spot a roadside stand, which we never did. as we sat around our campfire ring, with no fire, our neighbors must have felt bad for us, because they brought over a few logs and insisted we get the full camp experience. anna was pretty excited and sipped tea in between finding random things to toss into the flame. i resolved to always have a campfire when we tent camp. it’s only right.
the night was cold. so cold. and the morning was cold too. unfortunately, my bladder does not care about such things. so i was up, bright and early. while i made us coffee and tea, anna stayed bundled up in the tent, savoring the warmth of all the blankets. i don’t blame her.
our site was right along the river, so we had the actual white noise of a cascading river to help us sleep all night. it served to drown out any strange forest noises that i might mistake for a bear or mountain lion or aliens or any other scary thing.
while cooking breakfast, there was a slight incident. as i dumped the bacon out onto anna’s plate, i reached my arm across the propane flame, melting my puffy coat instantly. thankfully, our friendly neighbors had some tenacious tape, so i could at least keep the feathers in. oh well, i was wanting a new coat anyways. and now this one has more character. and i can stop worrying about getting it dirty.
and that’s pretty much the end of our adventure. after breakfast, we packed things up and headed back to the rv. after our not so great trip to rainier earlier with the (sick) fam, this trip more than made up for it. but i was definitely ready for a good night’s rest in an actual bed. 🙂