Hiking near Mt. Rainier

Sunday, July 22, 2007: I didn't get far in the park before turning north on the unpaved Westside Road. Once upon a time, the plan was to extend the Westside Road to complete a loop road around Mt. Rainier. This never happened. The difficultly of keeping the Westside Road open played an important role in this. In fact, most of the Westside Road has been closed to traffic for some time because flooding would cut the road and strand tourists.

Last fall's floods did a number on the Westside Road and have completely obliterated it a short distance beyond the end of the maintained road. I walked through this area destroyed by the flood and then a bit on the road beyond this first flood area. I estimate it was about 1.5 miles round trip.

Since the road goes through lowland forest, there was a chance for sapsucker. However, the bird continues to elude me. On the way back I tracked down an bird call I didn't know. It turned out to be a Western Tanager. A noise startled me just as I started across the bridge log to return to the road. I looked in the water and found a female Harlequin Duck with two youngsters.

Since it was cloudy, I bypassed Paradise and drove to the Reflection Lakes for my next hike. The cloudiness meant there were no Rainier reflections to photograph in the Reflection Lakes today. The hike takes the Lakes Trail and uses the High Lakes Trail and Wonderland Trail to complete a loop around the lakes. It is 3 miles long and gains/loses about 600' in elevation.

There is a nice viewpoint at Faraway Rock, near the junction with the High Lakes Trail. I wasn't that thrilled with the High Lakes Trail. Too much of it is a narrow trail that is sunken 3-4 inches below ground level. Trail shoes just don't provide enough side protection on such trails, unless you walk indian fashion. There was also a lot of wet low shrubbery that almost closed in over the trail. It's just not pleasant to hike through. I was glad when I finally got to the Wonderland Trail.

After this, I headed up to Paradise, when I took the trail to Myrtle Falls. After I got there, I decided to head up the Golden Gate Trail to its intersection with the Skyline Trail. I also walked a bit on the Skyline Trail. There were a couple of snowfields to cross. I think I'll wear boots and take poles if I hike up to Pebble Creek or Panorama Point tomorrow. Today's Paradise hike ran about 4.5mi and 1200'. I say and heard several Marmots, including one that keep moving a bit further ahead on the trail before it finally figured out that the way to get away was to leave the trail.

Jasmer's Rainier Cabins, Ashford, WA