Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mt. Rainier National Park

My friend Sarah and I made plans to go on a backpacking trip this summer. When we started talking about it in early July we both had the same destinations picked out...Mt. Rainier or the Olympic Peninsula. Both of these destinations are breathtaking and I personally had yet to be to either one. We decided on Mt. Rainier and the planning began! Well sort of.......I think Sarah and I spent maybe 20 minutes planning this trip. We went to Barnes and Noble took some books off the shelf and looked through them. Quickly we had picked our spot. The one thing we did change was we decided to NOT go backpacking but to camp instead. We made that decision mostly because we wanted more of a "vacation" and camping would allow us to bring all kinds of things....where backpacking...well you have to be much more selective as you are carrying all your crap on your back!

So we made our plans that day. The two of us are very "Type A" personalities so between the both of us we had all bases covered. We planned to camp for 3 nights at the White River campground on the Northeast side of the park. We would do 3 hikes while we were there. Easy...hard ...then a moderate one. We were all set! We left on a Wednesday morning. The weather was perfect and lucky for us it stayed that way for the entire trip.

Here is our campground. We scored such a great site! It was away from the road and there was quite a bit of room between ourselves and the sites next to us. We did pretty well with camp set up.....I was using a tent that was "new" to me. Sarah and I struggled a bit with it and I am pretty sure we didn't get it up 100% correctly but it stayed up the whole time!

Ahh...not the best quality is Sarah making dinner. Let me tell you we ate like kings. Well according to Sarah. I grew up car camping and we always ate very well when camping ( thank you Dalene!) so I don't know any different. We had chicken, steak and veggies for dinner......eggs, blueberry pancakes and sausage for breakfast. Apples....cherries....cantaloupe for snacks. Then of course no vacation is complete without happy we had wine each night along with cheese, crackers and Salami. The only tricky part to eating was building the campfire. Sarah had never done it before....and well I should probably know how to do this and in my mind I thought I did (easy....newspaper, twigs, log and a match) it turned out to be a bit more difficult than either of us expected. We got it the first night.......the second night which was steak night we didn't end up eating until almost 11pm because we just couldn't get the fire started.......and the third night I sucked it up and asked our wonderful neighbor Jim to come and give us a tutorial on it. That was so helpful and I am proud to say I know how to get a fire started. On a side note...I did think the pieces of wood we had were too big and that is why the fire wasn't catching....come to find out I was right. On my list of camp supplies that needs to be purchased an axe to chop wood.

After getting camp set up we headed out for our first hike. We went up to the Sunrise Lodge. Talked to a very helpful ranger who graciously told us a great hike to do. We set out on our 4.5 mile hike. Although relatively easy in terms of elevation was hard to get acclimated to the elevation gain in general. We had gone from Sea level to over 7,000 feet in less than a day. Needless to say I had a hard time breathing. Here is a mini lake we saw on our hike.

Day 2 we did the Summerland hike. This hike was 8.5 miles and an elevation gain of 2100 feet. This was our "hard" hike. This picture is taken on the trail. So many times throughout this trip I was wishing I had a "real" camera. The wildflowers were beyond beautiful. They were everywhere many colors......and yet my camera just didn't capture it completely. Someday!

Summerland is one of the most popular hikes in Mt. Rainier. In this picture you can see why.....such a great view of the mountain. I also have to say this was the first time I had ever camped in a National Park...and well it is sooo nice. The trails are clearly marked...even the back country trails. When we got to the top of this hike we both had to use the restroom......well lucky for us this has a back country campground and they had a bathroom....with hand sanitizer in it! Yippee! Now I know not all back country sites are like that.....but it was pretty impressive.

Day 3 we did the Naches Peak Loop. This hike was 4.5 miles. (I have to say I am very proud of us we hiked nearly 18 miles on this trip) I love this picture as the mountain ranges look like they go on forever. Sarah made fun of me most of the trip as I am the nerd with the map trying to figure out what mountain was what..... I wanted to know all the names and where we were in location to Mt. Rainier. I was such a student!

Here we are! Great view of Mt. Rainier...except the clouds are in the way. That is how it was a majority of the trip. The clouds just love to hang out around the top of Rainier. It makes the mountain very mysterious.

Our trip was wonderful. I am such a nature girl and find that I feel my absolute best when outside...camping and hiking. I love at end of the day when you have finished a hike and you are covered in sunscreen....bug repellent...and dirt.....and how just a tiny bit of water and quick scrub with a baby wipe can leave you feeling clean and refreshed. I love that in the National Parks they do Ranger talks at night. I love the slow pace of camping and how the rhythm of the day revolves around cooking meals... cleaning dishes...and heading out for a hike. I love sitting in a camp chair in the late afternoon reading a book. I love watching the camp fire at night. My all time hands down most favorite part of camping (and this can only happen when you have nice weather) is going to sleep at night with the rain fly off and being able to look up at the stars while you are falling asleep. It just doesn't get any better than that!

1 comment:

azlori said...

Sounds wonderbar! Glad you had great weather and a good time!