Back in October we set out for a weekend adventure to Mount Rainier National Park. Having driven all the main roads we were looking for a more remote, peaceful area to relax and enjoy. After an informative trip to the rustic Logmire Ranger Station, we decided to hike in through the forest and wilderness lands that border the park's southwest corner. From there we could experience each of the lands types that surround and protect the lush and diverse ecologies of our Cascade Range's largest volcano. Topping out at over 14,000 feet, Mount Rainier is visible atop vistas all along the Pacific seaboard from Canada to northern Oregon. As you can imagine, standing face-to-face with her is a humbling, breath-taking experience.
We began this hike at the end of forest road 79 in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. There's a small parking area that quickly fills on warm sunny weekend afternoons. We hike for about a mile before passing into the Glacier View Wilderness. The trail-sides are filled with plump, ripe huckleberries and only a handful of people were on the trail. This was shaping up to be a quite and peaceful get-away.
As we rose over the last ridge and began the descent down to Goat Lake, our hopes for a solitary weekend quickly faded. Three boyscout troops were camping along the east side of the lake, and they were loud. But that's how it goes sometimes, and I was glad these kids also had an opportunity to enjoy these trails and woods.
We set up camp on the opposite shore with a beautiful view down the length of lake. I loaded up my day-pack with water and snacks and we were back on the trail heading for the park boundry. It's a quick scramble over Gobblers Knob to Lake George, just 7 miles from Rainier's peak. We explored the area and snapped a few shots before heading back up to the lookout at Gobblers Knob.
The lookout was socked in, but we sat on its deck, snacked, and stared into the swirling clouds raising up the mountain's slopes. The temperature was dropping and we decided to head back for camp. After sundown the boyscouts were quite and very respectful. As Dusty and I stayed up late, each crack of another beer opening seemed to echo across the silent valley. But that's how it goes sometiems. :)
The next morning we hit the trail early and made it back to the car. That completes our 49th night of camping outdoors this year. We're only 7 miles shy of hiking a full 200 miles this season too. The lovely long summer we've taken such advantage of has finally come to an end. Our highs are now in the 40s and most of the high-country is under snow. Lucky for us... we have all the snow gear we need to camp straight through the winter too. :D