Travel Thursday – Mount Rainier National Park (Warning – photo intensive post)

The excitement about doing this post has been building all week.  People often ask what was our favorite place on the trip. Whereas I cannot name just one place, Mount Rainier holds a special place in my heart.  You will soon see why.  Mount Rainier is located about 2 hours southwest of Seattle, Washington.  It takes some time to get to it but once you do it is utterly breathtaking.  Before I begin I must share an embarrassing back story regarding Mt. Rainier.

Several years ago I attended my first work conference in the beautiful city of Seattle.  Anyone who knows me could tell you I pack a mini-vacation into any work trip.  Why not take advantage of the free flight and hotel?  I arrived an entire day ahead of the conference start date so after renting a car I ventured out to explore the surrounding mountain areas.  (The rest of the week I explored the city on foot, in between attending the conference).  After an excellent hike and breathtaking views of Snoqualmie Falls I had a crazy idea.  Why not make my way to Mt. Rainier.  After all I could clearly see it out the window of my car.  How far away could it really be?  This was before I had internet on my phone.  I tried unsuccessfully to find that mountain but finally as nightfall descended I had to abandon the plan.  In this case I had to settle for the view of it from the city of Seattle.  See I told you it was embarrassing.  By the way the distance from Snoqualmie Falls to Mt. Rainier is 2.5 hours.  Yeah I was crazy.

Back to our road trip this past summer.  Shane knew this story and made it his mission to make time to stop and see this beautiful mountain.  He delivered as promised and although we only had 2 nights and 1 full day to explore it was packed full of awesomeness!

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Our first look at Mt. Rainier from inside the Park. Simply beautiful!

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Moments earlier we had crossed the bridge pictured here.

We had decided to tackle two hikes for the day, beginning with The Skyline Trail. Little did we know, unforeseen events would make this the only trail we would have time to hike.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

A nice resting spot with a view.

The Skyline Trail proved to be steady up hill climb.  With stunning views at every turn I had no problem stopping for several rest/photo breaks.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Look how far we had come, but we still had a long way to go.  Note:  Mount St. Helens is off in the background, slightly to the right of the peak in the middle of this photograph.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Notice the snow-covered trail up ahead.  There would be much more of this as we advanced up.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Getting closer.

July 30, 2014Mt. Rainier

Love the view of the glaciers.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

A close up of the glaciers.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

For this trip we would be sticking to the Skyline Trail but we would love to go back someday and climb to the top.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

The same riverbed as seen from a higher vantage point.  If you look very closely just below the snow line you can make out the bridge from the earlier photo.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

From this point you can see both Mount St. Helens (right side) and Mount Hood(left side).

Mount St. Helens is approximately 75 miles away whereas Mount Hood is almost 230 miles away.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Mount St. Helens off in the distance.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Mount Hood’s visibility is impressive given it’s distance.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

An appropriately named point.  It was quite spectacular up here.

We enjoyed lunch with a view and loved our well deserved rest.  Getting to this point was no easy hike.  I can only imagine what it would be like to climb to the top.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Many critters, like this one, were looking for an easy handout.  Keep your food close otherwise it will be gone.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

A fellow hiker making his/her way to Panorama Point.

On our hike down the other side we encountered a lot more snow-covered trails.   Later this would be a factor and prove to provide an unexpected twist.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

The tiny specks in the snow are people hiking along the trail (midway down in this photo). One little slip and down the hill you went for an impromptu sled ride, minus the sled.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

A bridge of snow had formed from the sun melting the snow in places.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Me with the snow bridge.

Despite all of the snow it was a rather warm day.  It was amazing to hike through snow in shorts and a tank top.

July 30, 2014 Mt. RainierWildflowers along with snow melt streams.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

The wildflowers in full bloom.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Much of the trail was covered with snow.  At some point along here we made a wrong turn, unknown to us at the time.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

A beautiful trail with wildflowers growing alongside.

This is the trail we ended up on, instead of where we should have gone.  It is also where we met the threesome we would end up helping later.  After much discussion with two different groups we continued on as they seemed to think we were still on the Skyline trail.  About 1.5 miles later that would be proven wrong by the Lakes Trail sign.  Instead of continuing on for an additional 3.2 miles we headed back the way we came to rejoin the Skyline trail where we took the wrong turn.  The group of three we had met earlier followed us.  Among them was an older gentleman, his wife and his brother.   They trailed behind us as we were keeping a steady pace.  The older gentleman’s brother caught up to us and asked if we had any water.  His brother was in his 70’s and his wife was concerned about his blood pressure.  We were low on water with the added mileage but decided to give him the last of our water and a few snacks to keep him from dehydrating. We also offered to go ahead and find the junction into the Skyline Trail and wait for them to make sure they made it.  When they finally crested the hill, where we were waiting for them, we helped them along the snow-covered trail.  We were back on the Skyline Trail.  Whew!  With 1.4 miles to go we made sure they were fine and encouraged them it was the home stretch. The older gentleman offered to buy us a beer in the park’s hotel when they arrived back in thanks for the water.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

The rest of our hike went without a hitch.  Markers in the snow were meant to keep you on trail but in some cases they were buried by the snow.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

Ice & snow melt formed cold flowing streams among the mountain’s greenery.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

One of my favorite post card photo moments.

Despite the wrong turn, in one hike/one day we had the opportunity to see beautiful wild flowers coming into bloom, glaciers, trek over snow-covered trails, take in beautiful meadows and snow melt streams and help rescue an older couple.

Later in the hotel lobby we ran into the threesome we had helped along the way.  They were ever so grateful, proclaiming we had saved their lives.  Upon their insistence we joined them for dinner and drinks in the hotel’s restaurant.  After a long 6 + hours on the trail (the hike should have taken 4 hours) we were grateful to our hosts for a delicious meal and the great company.  Their entire group (including those who had stayed behind and were worried about them) continued to thank us for helping their family members. They insisted upon buying our meal and drinks, calling us the heroes of the day.  Shane and I did not feel like heroes, only good people helping out those who needed it.

July 30, 2014 Mt. Rainier

The beautiful sunset greeted us as we made our way back to our campsite after dinner.  Sleep came swiftly.

Our day spent at Mount Rainier will always live in my heart.  It was truly a day beyond words.  I will always remember that day on this majestic mountain.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. June says:

    Sheesh! What a mammoth post – that must have taken forever! Beautiful shots, though.

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