With the wonderful summer weather here in the Pacific Northwest, I set out to Mount Rainier to hike the Skyline Trail with a Waterloo friend. It was my second time at Mount Rainier, but my first to Paradise, on the southern side of the mountain. Last year during my internship, I went to Sunrise (north of the mountain), but never got any good shots of the mountain, as the sun was behind it nearly the entire way. This time, with the sun at my back, I got better results.
I expected a lot of people, due to the weather, but I didn’t realize it was also a free parks weekend, drawing even more. The parking lots at Paradise and the surrounding area were completely swamped, but we happened upon a van pulling out just as we were trolling the area. Lucky us. Skyline is a very popular trail, noted by many to be the easy-moderate trail to hike at Rainier. As a result, we were sharing the paths (and slippery snow) with quite a few hikers, both casual, like us, and more serious ones, perhaps headed up toward Camp Muir and eventually the summit.
The trail ascends approximately 1700ft from the upper Paradise lot (we started at the lower) to Panorama Point, which is where we turned around. The Lower Skyline trail was completely covered in snow, and the Upper looked like it would take us quite a ways around and it was nearing evening. Total hiking time was close to 3 hours, but I stopped numerous times for photos. The trail takes you pretty close to the mountain proper, and is probably one of the reasons why Camp Muir, a popular mid-camp for summiting, is an extension from the Skyline trail. Nisqually Glacier seemed nearly within touching distance at some points along the trail.
It was an absolutely beautiful day, with Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens visible on the horizon. If you looked hard, you could also see the outline of Mount Hood, far in the distance. Although very hot at the foot of the climb, at 7000ft it wasÂ much cooler, with a welcome breeze to help cool us. Snow patches dotted the trail and melting snow made for interesting leaps across impromptu creeks in the path.
A few photos are attached below – more over on my Flickr.