The 4th of July was a little strange this year, falling smack in the middle of the week. My sweetie had the day off so he suggested I take the day off too and that we head up to Mount Rainier for a hiking mini-vacation. Tuesday after work we drove up to the mountain to stay at Paradise Inn. The inn is a beautiful wooden lodge built in 1916, sitting at over 5,000 feet above sea level with a stunning view of Mount Rainier from the parking lot. I have a vague memory of being in this parking lot when I was about five years old, but other than that have hardly spent any time in the national park. We had been checking the weather for the past week desperately hoping that the clouds would pass in time for our ascent. After days of bad weather, we woke up on the 4th to sunny, blue skies and clear views!Camp Muir which is the basecamp for climbers attempting to summit the mountain. It's about 5 miles from the parking lot trailhead, and you gain 5,000 feet of elevation in the snow-covered hike. It was truly a gorgeous day, with clear views of Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood to the south.
It was my first time ever getting up to 10,000 feet in Washington- I've been that high in the Andes in Peru and Ecuador, but never in my home state. We were super prepared for the day in what we had packed. We had the 10 Essentials for hiking, plus more snow clothes, trekking poles, and ice axes. I had slathered sunscreen on my face and arms and reapplied several times when we stopped for a snack.
Going down was much faster then coming up because we were able to glissade at least a couple thousand feet! If you've never heard of glissading, it's just a fancy word for slide down the snow on your butt. Since it was later in the day, there were some good glissade tracks already established. After we got below 8,000 feet or so, the snow started getting too soft to get much momentum so we had to walk. Then toward the bottom when we thought the fun was over, there were a few really steep, deep glissade runs.
I realized that any time I'm ever in snow, I usually have a stocking cap on- not a sun hat where my ears are exposed. In all of our planning and preparations, I overlooked this detail. I had to spend the next few days slathering on aloe and covering my burnt skin. Granted, it was a small problem in the overall scheme of things, and otherwise we had had a unique and incredible Fourth.