Listen my readers and you shall hear, about my trip to Mt. Rainier. Hiking took an unfortunate spring/summer hiatus due to a bouquet toss gone awry, resulting in the fracturing of my fifth metatarsal and spending two months in a walking boot that would flatter only Frankenstein’s Monster. 

By May, my hiking plans for 2015 were off to a rough start, I had applied for permits in several areas: The Wonderland Trail, The Enchantments and Mt. St. Helens. I was only able to secure Mt. St. Helens Permits- and then I was unable to use them because of the aforementioned broken foot. Saying that I was disappointed would be an understatement, I spent the first few weeks hobbling furiously around and raging at my bad luck. The broken foot stopped cold any fitness progress I had made, and even when I could walk without pain, I was not to participate in any “high impact” activities  (like hiking) for three weeks afterward. In hindsight, it’s probably good that the Wonderland Trail didn’t work out this year, I would not have been in any shape for it.

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However, I am back in action and I spent a very humid and buggy weekend at Mt. Rainier National Park. On a Friday night, thinking that it would be easy to get a campground, K and I zipped down to the White River Entrance. In all of our years of camping, we have never not gotten a site within park limits, including an impromptu trip to Zion to view an eclipse. So we were overconfident in the availability of campgrounds and dismayed to find that the picturesque White River Campground was completely full. Not only that, but we had to drive through three more campgrounds before we found one outside the park, pitching our tent in a dark site only 30 feet from the highway. But we had made it.

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Early the next morning, we chose a route that took us along the Sunrise Rim Trail/ Wonderland Trail and up Burroughs Mountain. It took us a long time to find the trailhead; though the Sunrise area has beauty in abundance it lacks in sensible trail signs. Once we got going it was absolutely breathtaking. Thickly lined with wildflowers on either side, the trail was bursting with butterflies and birdsong. Everywhere we looked there was color and life, watched over by the icy face of Rainier. We  mourned the loss of the Wonderland permits all over again and strategized how we would get them in the future. It truly is a spectacular trail and the small taste I had fueled my desire to do it even more.

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In my excitement to be out and hiking, I had overlooked my lack of fitness after two months entirely out of commission. My foot ached a bit, accustomed to the rigidity of the walking boot and zero activity, it was not ready for the incline I subjected it to. But even as I struggled, looking down into the valley below and up at the truly majestic mountain, I was so happy to be back on the trail.

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Though I lagged a bit up the hill, the views were unbelievable. The mountain was so close, and I kept thinking enviously about some friends who were summiting it the next weekend. It was incredibly hot, the trail took us above the tree line to an unforgiving, shelterless tundra. The air was thick with the rank scent of mountain goats, but they were nowhere to be seen. We at lunch with an unbeatable view, with a very brazen chipmunk for company.

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The fact that Washington has been dry as a bone this year meant that we dealt with very little snow the entire hike. Burroughs Mountain usually is a much later season endeavor, as snow could make negotiating the steep drop offs very dangerous. We returned along the more popular Sourdough Ridge Trail, passing many other hikers and arriving back at Sunrise at around noon. When we had left four hours earlier, our car had been one of the only ones in the parking lot, now there wasn’t a spot to be found. So, if you’re planning a trip out to Rainier, all I can suggest is to get there early for both campsites and parking spots!

In other news, we have a new addition to our adventures.

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Lana joined our family on July 5 and is settling in as our new hiking buddy!

Happy trails!

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