Everywhere you drive in Seattle it seems you can see Mount Rainier–that is of course when it’s not cloudy out. Otherwise you would never know a 14,410 feet above sea level active volcano long overdue to erupt looms over the area.
After seeing this grand mountain for the last two years, I had to get up close and personal. So on October 5th my husband and I decided we would hike the roughly six miles of the Skyline Trail.
The drive was a short 70 miles from our home in Snoqualmie. We were surprised to learn that after entering the park we would still have to drive 18 miles to begin our hike at Paradise. The drive itself is beautiful with breathtaking views of the mountain and plenty of areas to park for photos.
We began our hike on a blacktop path and other then the elevation gain, we both thought how could this hike be considered strenuous. We would later come to realize why as we encountered plenty of steep steps–along with a steep snowfield crossing if you wish.
The geology of the mountain is simply beautiful with varying rock formations, glaciers and colorful alpine meadows. At every turn it seems your greeted with something more spectacular. We reached Panorama Point after climbing a considerable amount of rocky steps at 6,800 feet. The Point provided an opportunity to take in breathtaking views. The sky was so clear you could see Mount Adams, Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens. We could not have picked a better day with temps in the low 70’s and clear skies.
At this point we had three choices. Cross a steep snowfield to get to the other side of the trail, turn around and head back down the steep stone steps or climb the High Skyline Trail to 7,000 feet. We decided after talking to some folks not to take the snow field because of the steepness and to take the High Skyline Trail.
If you ever have the opportunity to hike the Skyline Trail I would highly suggest taking the High Trail. You almost feel like you can touch the mountain and the views are better and less crowded then at Panorama Point. It is here where you will also see a inuksuk. There was only one point in this hike shortly after the inuksuk where we came across a group of young people unsure how to cross. Being the Eagle Scout my husband is he showed us all how to cross safely. At this particular point it is just a little steep and rugged and you need to watch your step. It is only four or five steps if that and the rest is smooth sailing and beautiful meadows all the way back to the Paradise Inn where you can purchase a beer or a cup of joe to celebrate your journey.
It’s hard to believe that something so beautiful can be so dangerous and that each year climbers lose their life ascending to the summit at 14,410 feet due to rapid weather changes, avalanches and experience level. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to summit this mountain considering we did half and it felt like we were on top of the world.
Please enjoy these untouched photos taken from our trip.