The last time we had been at Mt Rainier was 10 years ago when Braden was just 3 months old. This time, we were looking forward to a more intense, hands on experience at this amazing national park (travel dates 7/9-7/12/17). Mt Rainier is visible from much of the surrounding areas, so we were excited to finally get nice and close to this huge mountain.
We hadn’t stayed in one place for three nights since back at Snow Mountain Ranch, so we enjoyed setting up camp and spreading out again this time. There is a big difference between one, two, and three nights or more in regards to what comes out of the camper. The slackline was the biggest hit, of course.
Lucky for us, Cougar Rock Campground was within a couple miles of several stunning waterfalls, so after lunch,
we raced off to see Christine Falls and hike to Comet Falls.
“We” entailed a semi-random group of friends and family who didn’t really know each other, including the Hamilton family, my cousin Jill, and Chuck’s sister Kimmy. The group couldn’t have gotten along better. It was a perfect day to wear our new “Coddiwomple” shirts, a phrase meaning “to travel in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination” chosen by the eldest Hamilton, Kelsey. When we arrived at this waterfall, we assumed it was Comet Falls,
only to look beyond and see a huge towering fall beyond. Of course, we had to get close enough to feel the powerful spray from the real Comet Falls. What a great 4 mile hike, with 1300 feet of elevation gain!
Back at our awesome campsites, everyone enjoyed being able to relax,
eat dinner and even s’mores, and get ready for a full day up at Sunrise the next day.
We had an aggressive plan to hike Mt Fremont, and a loop including the Sunrise Rim, and Glacier Basin Trail, but when we arrived at the visitor center, they informed us that most of those trails were closed or advised against due to snowfall. In fact, there had been rescues just the day before on these trails, so…. we opted to hike past Frozen Lake,
up the Fremont trail
through some intense clouds to the Fremont Lookout Tower.
We ate lunch in the tower,
ironically, had the first cell service we had had in days in the park,
and enjoyed looking through the clouds when Mt Rainier peaked through.
The sky cleared as we hiked back down,
so by the time we hit the snowfields, everyone was ready to play.
and snow balls ensued.
We had a quick stop at Shadow Lake,
and then jumped our way back to Sunrise.
The girls enjoyed packing their cooling towels, although the weather didn’t warrant any necessary cool downs.
We were so proud of these two girls, getting their hiking legs in shape and ready to go. At the end of the this hike, they were still jumping for joy 😉
We circled around by road to the White River Campground to cover another part of the Glacier Basin Trail that was still open (which we had originally planned for our loop).
As if these two hikes weren’t enough, we had to stop at the Grove of the Patriarchs. No matter how many big trees we see, we never get enough! The bridge over to the grove was a fun, wobbly suspension bridge that everyone enjoyed.
At the grove, we immediately had to snap a pic of the twins with the twin trees, and the whole group was in awe of the soaring giants.
The kids can never resist taking pictures climbing on these huge playgrounds.
With our big group, we couldn’t resist wrapping around one of the biggest trees. Here’s our failed attempt at taking a pano of our theatrics.
A late dinner at the campsite was just what we needed, and this competitive group loved learning how to play our new favorite game, SET. These guys were so intense, I was afraid to play!
Ellie enjoyed the special girl treatment from the Hamiltons, and I’m not sure Gavin left his favorite rock near the site that evening, which he gave nightly tours for all.
Before heading into the Paradise visitor center, all the kids finished up their junior ranger books
before getting sworn in.
Once again, we discovered that our intended hike (Paradise Skyline Trail) was snowed in further up, so our plan shifted to getting a good view of the mountain… and having lots and lots of fun. Our ultra-competitive group decided to have a photo contest throughout the day since we couldn’t hike most of the Skyline Trail or get to Panorama Point. As we hiked towards Myrtle Falls, Chuck tried to sabotage Jill’s pic by jumping in to photobomb the perfect shot of the first cute marmot we came across.
The further we hiked,
the more silly the pictures got.
Ellie, the cartwheel queen started the tumbling streak,
so we had to take pictures of everyone doing headstands, more cartwheels,
and of course, we hiked with our hammocks to get the perfect mountain shot.
We headed down for lunch because a “special guest” was expected, which turned out to be the popular governor of Washington.
Chuck and Brian had to introduce themselves and get a picture of course.
The Alta Vista Trail came to a screeching halt for us when we found a particularly friendly marmot near this large boulder.
The view was stunning here in all directions,
Since the marmot had claimed the big boulder, our crew claimed this smaller one. All of us had to jump off for our own photo shoots,
but it was Chuck that claimed “best jump” with this winning shot.
Probably one of the most fun times was documenting what was now “our spot” on Mt Rainier with what we coined the “selfie panorama,” where the cameraman gets swapped out to include all of us during the pano pic. We’re pretty sure everyone that passed us at this spot surely thought we were crazy, but oh was it fun… definitely a highlight from the trip we won’t forget!
Just beyond the spot we had parked it was this nice waterfall, and nearby, a ranger who told us about the dangers of walking on snow, especially in areas like this, where the water runs below the questionable snowpack. A climber had been missing for a few days now, and there was no way to find him after he fell through a crevasse. When the snow melted more, he may be found…. a reminder to heed warning to the rangers words of advice and hike safely.
The dads offered ice cream to whoever made it safely down the steep, snow-covered trail first, so of course these bright kids finished arm in arm so they could all earn ice cream 😉
I thought we may never leave the comforts of the lodge once we entered,
and it was “Auntie” Jill who splurged for all the kids. Spoiled.
Back at the campsite, there was one more waterfall within walking distance, so one group stayed back at the campsites with the dads, while the moms headed off to check out Carter Falls.
The lighting was perfect on this “golden hour” hike,
so after a few pix, we declared we must come back in the morning with the whole crew.
Back at camp, the dads did not set up our cooking fire, but instead rigged up the perfect hammock swinging setup.
We returned bright and early the next morning to what we thought would be the perfect photo op,
only to discover an old stump, one cloud in the sky hanging right in front of Mt Rainier, crabby, sleep-deprived kids, a dead camera battery, and a bunch of kids who had to use a non-existent restroom… quite the funny situation!
Us ladies would not cease to be teased about good-looking stumps for the remainder of our time with the H-pack. Good times of course!