In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mount Rainier

After leaving the Seattle area I headed towards Mt. Rainier. The more I'm around mountains the more I like them and I hadn't ever spent any time around one this tall. My knee was feeling in good shape and I was in the mood for a good, long hike. I got to the mountain after dark and after finding some information about trails in the park I went to sleep for the night. I planned on waking up early to catch the sunrise on the mountain but when my alarm went off at 5:00am I really didn't feel like getting up and when I looked out I saw the sky was overcast anyway, so much for a sunrise. So I went back to sleep for a couple more hours.

I finally hit the trail about 9am and had a great hike through the woods. The sun had come out and the scenery was gorgeous! Mount Rainier is a very impressive site and I hiked until I got to “The Wedge”. This is a small wedge shaped (imagine that) glacier where the trail goes from rocky to snow and ice. It's called a glacier but it just looks like a snow pack. It's where the hikers who are climbing to the summit stop to put on their now gear and spikes to make it to Spencer camp at 10,o00 feet. As much as I wanted to just keep keep climbing up the snow I thought better of it since my knee doesn't need any more trauma right now. Instead I stopped at the bottom of the glacier to eat my lunch.

As I was eating I was eyeballing the steep ridge behind me. The map called it St. Elmo's pass and I figured I'd climb to the top of it figuring there should be a good view from up there. It didn't look that steep until I actually started climbing it, but that's the way it always goes. There was some tricky footing since it was all scrambling up loose rocks but I made it without incident and was treated to what may have been the best view I've seen so far on my trip! The top of the ridge was sharp like a knife edge and bare rock/gravel slides dropped steeply on either side of it giving me an excellent view of Winthrop Glacier and a huge valley on the other side. Winthrop Glacier looked more like I'd expected a glacier to look. Full of cracks and crevices as it worked it's way down from the mountain.

I'd started off the day at 4000 feet and now I was sitting at 7500. If I continued along the ridge towards the mountain there were some really craggy outcroppings that could get me higher and give me an even better view. I started climbing them and found the going very tough since the slope was very steep and consisted of nothing more then loose rock and gravel that had been sliding down. There was hardly any firm footing to be found and even large rocks that looked like they should be sturdy would give way with any pressure and go sliding down the slope. I picked away at it though and got as far as I could without actually risking killing myself. I'd only managed to make it to 7825 feet but it was totally worth it. I stayed up there about an hour just soaking in the sites and taking a little nap in the sun. It was kinda chilly up that high but sitting in the sun and behind a rock to stay out of the wind it was very comfortable.

Finally it was time to go so I picked my way back down the slope (which was much harder then going up) and hiked my way back to the trail head. It was about 6pm when I got back so I started a little fire to make myself some hot chocolate and just read for a few hours before going to bed. I thought about going for another hike in the morning but I figured it would be impossible to top the hike I already had so headed out for my next adventure in the morning.

You can see a few more pictures from Rainier in this Flickr set. When I get a chance I'll upload some more to it.

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You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.