While in Gig Harbour we looked at the weather forecast and it looked like there was a 1 day weather window around Mount Rainier National Park before the weather took a turn for the worse. We thought we’d better make the most of this so set off for the Park.
It was only a 2.5 hr drive across to Mount Rainier and we entered the Park through the Nisqually entrance before heading up to the area known as Paradise. Unfortunately the very top of the mountain was swathed in clouds, however the sun was shining on Paradise and the views from here across to Mt Adams and Mt St Helens were pretty spectacular.
We set off on a 10k or so hike up into the high alpine region. The mountain itself is 14,410ft high and Paradise is at 5400ft. We hiked up the Skyline trail which took us up over 7000ft in altitude where there was still a lot of snow from last winter – no new snow yet but they were forecasting snow down to 8000ft that night.
The mountain flowers were still blooming as the snow melt this year came very late – that is blooming at the start of October – not long before the first snows come.
After our hike we went down to the Cougar Rock campsite where we spent the night. Unfortunately we woke the next morning to low level cloud as far down as we were at only 1000m. We had planned to drive round to the Sunrise side of the park and do a hike at altitude but with the cloud level we wouldn’t have been able to see much. So instead we started our trek across the country aiming to get South and East to Rocky Mountain National Park. We needed to get here fairly quickly as although much further South, its very high and the road through the park is usually shut by mid-October and it can be earlier.