Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mt. Rainier, Sunrise/Skyscraper Hike and Photos July 2012

Being on the road for work all of the time surely gets old quick.  Fortunately for me sometimes I get to visit places that offer some fun things to see and do on the weekends.  I got lucky and had a conference in Seattle in July.  No matter what this would be a nice escape from the dreadful heat in the middle of the summer in Tucson.  Why not make a weekend of it?  80 degrees or 105?  Pretty easy call.  The summers in Tucson get old quick and I'll do anything to escape!

Katie flew out to meet me on Thursday night.  We spent most of Friday bumming around downtown Seattle seeing the usual tourist sites.  Ate some good seafood, oysters, cruised Pikes market, did the Seattle underground tour (it was ok but I am just not a tour kind of person) and saw what we needed to see of Seattle the city.  After a week in the city I was ready to get out into the woods!

Hiking through a snowfield at Mt. Rainier
Having never spent any time in the area previously we decided to make visiting Mt. Rainier National Park our first stop.  We spent the night in Puyallup and awoke early on Saturday to hopefully beat some of the crowds.  We opted to drive to the east entrance of the park basically taking highway 410 all of the way in.  I had numerous recommendations on starting at the Sunrise area for the great views and hiking options.  I knew it would be busy but getting there early paid off and there were only a handful of people at the Sunrise lot/trail head around 8:30am.  It was a bit foggy, but I'll take hiking in the fog vs. hiking in a crowd all day long.

Mt. Rainier sunrise hiking trail head in fog
Leaving the dog covered trailed at
Sunrise in the AM
The initial plan was to hike up to Frozen Lake and take the trails up in the Burroughs Mountains from there.  The trail up to Frozen Lake was fog covered in the morning only opening for a few moments with amazing views of Mt. Rainier.  We made it up to Frozen lake in no time with not a single soul to be found.  It was great!  From there we headed up the Burroughs trail.  After a half mile at most we had to cross a snow patch on the steep trail.  It was a bit nerve racking without any real gear for it; only one person had trekking poles.  The girls got a bit nervous through there and when we made it to the next snow patch they said "no way" and we turned around.  So much for hiking up the Burroughs!  Even in mid July definitely look for a snow report and come prepared!

Sign at Burroughs Mountain Trail
We were warned!
We then trekked back to Frozen Lake and then towards Skyscraper Peak we headed.  As we entered the fields the wildflowers were blooming and the views were amazing.  We crossed a few more snow fields but mostly on flat ground so nothing that posed much of a problem.  By mid morning the fog and clouds gave way to spectacular views of Rainier and the surrounding area.  Treading through the snow fields had wore the group down a bit so we ended up heading down into the meadows of Berkeley Park instead of going to Skyscraper Peak.  The area offered some great views and the wildflowers were in full bloom.  We hiked around this area a bit before heading back up to Frozen Lake.

Upon returning to Frozen Lake the crowds had shown but so had the views we missed on the way in as the fog had cleared.  Some amazing scenery down into the valleys there looking back towards Sunrise.  We got some great photos before deciding to head back to the trail head.  We only had one weekend in the Seattle area and figured if we called it an early day it would give us time to hike another area.  So off we headed to Olympic National Park!

Some great info on hiking Skycraper:

Some pictures from our hike on Mt. Rainier:

Mt. Rainier National Park
The crew at Frozen Lake, Mt. Rainier National Park
Picture of Mt. Rainier with wildflowers blooming
Wildflowers blooming with Mt. Rainier in the distance

Great views of Mt. Rainier
Berkeley Park, Mt Rainier National Park Hiking

Mt Rainier Burroughs Mountain Hiking Trail
Snow field going up Burroughs Mountain

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