We only spent one day in Mount Rainier, but that was enough to put it among my very favorite national parks.
To make the most out of our quick trip out from Seattle without turning ourselves into complete goo for the rest of our trip, we wanted a trail that was between 4-8 miles and would give big views. And so, we set out on Skyline Trail. It’s 5.5 miles with about 1700 feet of elevation gain, and ohhh the views.
Even from the parking lot of their visitor center, where everyone had their requisite pit stop, you could begin ogling over the cloudy peak of Rainier.
Full disclaimer before we start our hike… while we did start on Skyline Trail, we’re not completely sure what trail we ended up on (aaaannnndddd… here’s how that happened). So if you’ve hiked this trail before and start thinking at some point that things look different than you remember, that’s probably legit.
Anywho, here we go!
The trail was pretty steep to start off, as you’re essentially switch-backing up a mountainside. There were a lot of people stopping to catch their breath along the way, and the crowds dissipated pretty quickly.
I spent the better part of the initial incline staring up at Rainier, waiting for its cloudy shroud to slip a bit. We were in luck long enough for a couple quick shots.
Maybe even luckier, though, we got to meet a chubster marmot chilling near the trail.
But, guys, that’s not all (no! that’s not all!!) – while I was mostly staring ahead, I had to also keep turning around to take in the view that Rainier looks out over. More mountains, and with the dregs of snow left against the lush green of August in the Pacific Northwest… well, it was pretty magical in every direction.
Pretty soon we were approaching the highest point on our trail, and we started seeing more intense hikers coming back down from much higher elevations. They carried packs and technical equipment, and I wondered about what they got to see up there. We were already starting to hike into the clouds, and we had, it seemed, only just started.
You may have noticed, too, that our ratio of grass to snow was sliding in a whiter direction. Soon after passing through the foggiest part of our hike, the trail was completely covered in snow. Since we were hiking in August (when most snow levels would be at their lowest here) I imagine this trail can get pretty rough at most other times of the year.
Something about sliding down a snowy trail while on a summer vacation is just so much more fun than attempting the same at home in the winter, though.
And then we came to my favorite part. Ha! That’s right, none of that was even my favorite. This is going to get a little out of control, so I’m going for a full-blown photo gallery extravaganza to cram in all the photos I want to share. Look out especially for the flowers straight out of Dr. Suess – those are the best 🙂
So here we go, in no particular order:
I’m so psyched that we live out here now, and can’t wait to visit this park again. Have any of you had a chance to visit Rainier or other mountains in the Pacific Northwest? Got a different favorite park? Share in the comments 🙂