Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mount Rainier Overview

After seeing a bit of Seattle and racing for a cure in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon with Team in Training, I got up Sunday morning, June 27, took the light rail to the airport, rented a car, and headed for Mount Rainier National Park. I spent 2.5 days hiking there, and stayed at the park lodge at snow-covered Paradise, elevation 5,400 feet and with gorgeous views of Mount Rainier looming 9,000 feet above.

During my time there, I drove around a bit and took 10 hikes, totaling about 24 miles. It will take me a while to post about the hikes, but I have summarized them below. As I add a post about each hike, I will turn the hike names into links. It will take me about two weeks to post everything, because I am also posting about my Seattle and TNT experience at the same time.

Lake Christine – my intent was to hike up Mount Beljica, but a mile in I gave up and trudged back due to heavy snow cover at ice-covered Lake Christine.

Twin Firs – a short nature hike with large trees

Rampart Ridge – a five mile loop with a 1,350 foot ascent and descent, and very nice views

Views from Paradise - not a hike per se, but when Mount Rainier came out of its blanket of clouds Monday morning, I got some nice photos.

Narada Falls to Reflection Lake – After a huge waterfall at the start, I ended up hiking through lots of snow, lost the trail, and headed the rest of the way out and back along the road. Reflection Lake was snow and ice covered but there were great views of the volcano.

Carter and Madcap Falls – Across a glacier-fed swift river and then a very pretty hike through a beautiful forest to two really nice waterfalls

Box Canyon to Nichol Creek Campsite – with an interesting slot canyon at the start, this hike leads along the famous Wonderland Trail to the Nichol Creek Campsite.

Bench Lake – most of this hike was snow covered, but the trail was easily followed almost all of the time. Avalanche lilies were in bloom next to snowfields, and there were gorgeous views.

Martha Falls – A short but steep descent along the Wonderland Trail led to this beautiful falls. The half mile return, with its 530 foot ascent, was a steady climb.

Hot Springs and Silver Falls – This was a three mile loop with a vivid reminder that the whole area is influenced by a huge volcano at the start, and a lovely set of large water falls at the end of the hike along a gorgeous greenish-blue glacier-fed river.

Grove of the Patriarchs – This trail led to the largest trees I have ever seen short of the redwoods at Muir Woods: huge Western red cedars, Western hemlocks, and Douglas firs.

I used an excellent trail guide: “Day Hiking Mount Rainier” by Dan A. Nelson. Many hikes I had planned on doing were under deep snow, so I adjusted to those mostly below 4,500 feet to minimize snow. I also carried a National Geographic topo map, and my DeLorme PN-60 Earthmate GPS.

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