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Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

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Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

Postby Mark Doswald » Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:46 pm

I'm from central California. My wife and I would love to do the 90 mile hike around the base of Rainier. What the heck is the trail called? I cannot find it anywhere. Has anyone done it? Is it worth it? We have done the John Muir trail so I don't think the mileage will be a problem. Is it very hard? When is the best time to go (cause we love wildflowers!)?
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Re: Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

Postby SKI » Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:50 pm

The Wonderland Trail!

VERY hard to get trekking permits for it...
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Re: Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

Postby Mark Doswald » Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:43 pm

Thanks!
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Re: Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

Postby lcarreau » Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:05 am

I went in September one time. I went counter-clockwise from Nickel Creek (3385').

It was raining on the day I started out, but the weather can change in a heartbeat.
The highest elevation of the trail is Panhandle Gap at 6,850'. There's a herd of mountain goats here.

I suppose the average time would be 7-10 days to circumvent the mountain.
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Re: Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

Postby SKI » Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:12 am

Tazz, super legit posts man.
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Re: Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

Postby billisfree » Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:53 am

For those who are disappointed not to get a permit for the Wonderland trail in Mt. Rainier,
and alternate, but just as worthy hike is the Glacier Peak Wilderness. It's a 7-10 day hike depending on
how fast you want to go... but has all the wildflowers, up and down ridges to cross. Plus great views of Glacier Peak all the way around.

I did this hike back in 1979 when the area was first destinated a wilderness.

I'm not aware there are limits as not very many people take this hike. Perhaps times have changed?
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Re: Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

Postby lcarreau » Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:49 pm

billisfree wrote:It's a 7-10 day hike depending on
how fast you want to go...


Watch it ! Are you sure it's not 10-14 days for the average person ???

Of course, if you're trying to set a record, why not do it in 6 days. Does it matter ???
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Re: Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:57 pm

billisfree wrote:For those who are disappointed not to get a permit for the Wonderland trail in Mt. Rainier,
and alternate, but just as worthy hike is the Glacier Peak Wilderness. It's a 7-10 day hike depending on
how fast you want to go... but has all the wildflowers, up and down ridges to cross. Plus great views of Glacier Peak all the way around.

I did this hike back in 1979 when the area was first destinated a wilderness.

I'm not aware there are limits as not very many people take this hike. Perhaps times have changed?


Good suggestion. Leor Pantilat did a 50 mile loop in this area and the photos he posted were really spectacular.
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Re: Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

Postby billisfree » Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:06 pm

A group of high school kids packed food for a 7-day loop hike - yet took us 9 days because some could not substain a 10-mile day.
It was supposed to be a 50-mile loop around the 10,500 ft Glacier Peak. We were supposed to average 9 miles per day.

We got in so late the first day, we hiked a mile in darkness, and just threw our sleeping bags along the trail and spent the night.

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Back then we cut our own firewood, carried no tents. Compared to Mt. Rainier, Glacier Peak area was a "true" wilderness.
No matter how you put it - it takes a day's hike just to reach the loop trail. In our case, we entered from the east
on the White River trail. We were of to a good start on the 2nd day - making 12 miles.

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On the 3rd day, weather was clear and nice with fantastic views of alpine country all around. From White Pass we
climbed over Red Pass and descended the White Chuck river to camp at the creek below. It was only a 10 mile hike for the day.

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The 4th day we hiked the east side, with some limited view of Kennedy Glacier high above us.
We climbed Glacier Ridge, made the tough climb over over the 6,300ft Fire Creek pass and camped at Mica Lake.
Mica Lake was a cold, desolate camp site... yet had beautiful views toward the north Cascades
including Dome Mountain. We made 8 miles for the day... kinda slowing down.

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On the 5th day, we took a long descent to Milk Creek and climbed back up to the top of the
ridge between Milk creek and East Fork Milk Creek. 2,000ft down, 2,000 feet back up - BLAH!
We made about 7 miles for the day. We camped at the then - collasping Vista-Dolly Shelter.
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On the 6th day, we went off-trail and climbed Gamma Ridge to the "Great Fill" on the other side.
We enjoyed a fantastic view of the SW side of Glacier Peak. The route was hard and difficult.
Problems with routes, cliffs, broken backpacks, we covered less than 3 miles.
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The 7th day, we struggled to cross the "Great Fill" and made poor progress. Some of us
were not very sure-footed on steep, loose sandy rocks and gravel. Once across the
Great Fill, it was an easy stroll down to the Suiattle River. We only made about 4 miles.
We were on our last day of food and still two days away from getting out of this Wilderness.
Our leader made us lay out our food and determine what was left and ensure everybody had enough.
Most of us had hoarded food, so there was little re-distribution of food.

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On the 8th day - we started a major push to try to climb over two major mountain passes
and make 25 miles - in TWO days. The Suiattle River is a real wilderness, no bridge over
the river... so we had to test our skills crossing over the LONG fallen log bridge over the raging
creek. In memory of Dave Higgs who is shown crossing the log - would later die in Vietnam.

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That's me... climbing over High Pass.
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Below: the Tenpeak mountain range must be crossed ahead of us. Tenpeak is the 41st highest mountain
in Washington. We camped for the night on Napeequa River below:
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And the 9th day...
A wet rainy day, we ascended the countless switchbacks and crossed Buck Creek pass,
reached our cars at the trailhead - running on empty.
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Six of Washington's 100 highest mtns are close by:
12 Tenpeak 9,100 ft
30 Fortress mtn 8674 ft
41 Clark Mtn 8576 ft
52 Buck Mtn 8573 ft
67 Chiwawa Mt 8475 ft

This is God's country - nobody else wants it!
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Re: Mount Rainier (Tacoma) question?

Postby Mark Doswald » Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:58 am

Well put billsfree! Beautiful pictures and an epic sounding trip. Thanks all for your suggestions y'all. I will probably do both the "wonderland trail" and when we get sick of crowds go back and do glacier point wilderness. And yes it truly is God's country. No where is God more apparent then in the wilderness!
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