Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weekend at Rainier: Part 1

A few weekends ago, I spent the weekend exploring Mt. Rainier. On Saturday, I took a group of gals up to Sunrise to see Mt. Rainier up and close and personal! Then on Sunday, I went hiking out of Paradise on the popular Skyline Trail. I'll talk about Saturday first.

I was so excited to take a group of gals from my meetup group up to Mt. Rainier. I knew a lot of them had recently moved here and hadn't had the time to see Mt. Rainier up close. Unfortunately, by the time the date of the day trip rolled around, it was only me, Crystal, Laura and Samantha.

L to R: Laura, Crystal and Samantha

We met in Enumclaw and then carpooled up to Sunrise. It was a crisp, cool morning and I had hoped the clouds would part and give us a great view of the mountain. We got up to Sunrise, parked, and then walked around and chatted. We stopped in the visitor center and perused the gift shop. I bought myself a Mt. Rainier complete trail map with climbing guide! It was my only souvenir and it made me happy!

L to R: Laura, Me, Samantha

After taking lots of pictures (at which my camera died so I couldn't take any pictures and therefore all are from Laura and Crystal!), we got back into the car and headed to Crystal Mountain, one of my favorite ski areas.

Crystal at Crystal Mountain!

There was a beerfest going on that same day, but they didnt have many local breweries, and I'm all about the local beer. We decided to head up the gondola before we had lunch. I love riding the gondola, but since I had done it tons of times before, it was nothing new to me. Crystal and Laura were not so sure about the gondola, but got the hang of it on the way back down.

View from the gondola towards the base of Crystal Mountain

(Side note: there are advertisements everywhere for the gondola at Crystal Mountain, and one of my favorites is: An adrenaline rush even grandma will enjoy. hehe!)

Crystal and Laura on the gondola

We walked around, took lots more pictures and enjoyed looking at Mt. Rainier. I was sad because all of the snow was gone and I couldn't play on it :(

Me on the gondola ride down

After we had our fill of looking at the mountain, we headed back down for lunch. I brought my own lunch, while the gals had burgers, which looked mighty delicious! We finished our lunch and went to check out one of my favorite bars, the Snorting Elk. Unfortunately, they were closed, so we headed to our final stop, the Suntop lookout.

Suntop Lookout
The drive to Suntop wasn't too terrible until we got to the last part. It was a one-lane dirt road with a drop off on the passenger side. Normally, it wouldn't have been a problem, but there was another car coming down the road! That car was nice enough to pull up on the hill so we had enough room to get by. I noticed on the way up there was a small parking lot at the base of the hill with a half mile trail leading up to the lookout. I think next time, I'm going to do the hike instead of the drive!

View from Suntop

The view from the lookout was amazing! There were two volunteers up there who were watching for fires and two forest rangers just visiting. We chatted with them for a while and heard lots of stories. They pointed out the top of Crystal Mountain, so next time I'm up there, I'm going to look for Suntop!

They also told us the story of how during WWII, women were stationed in these lookouts all through the Cascades to keep an eye out of enemy planes. They would have supplies dropped to them from planes and the women would gossip with each other during the night over the radio. I couldnt even imagine what that would be like!

After we had our fill of the lookout, we headed back to Enumclaw and then headed home. It was a great day at the mountain, but I was not done with Rainier yet. I had a hike planned for Sunday on the other side of the mountain at Paradise. That trip report is in part 2!

Thanks for reading!

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