Skyline Trail, Mt. Rainier NP - August, 2009
The entire Skyline Trail Loop is 5.2 miles plus sidetrips. The total distance can be shortened by taking the Low Skyline Trail at Panorama Point (if open) and the Golden Gate Trail. The trip can be started from many points near Paradise and done either clock-wise or counter-clock-wise but clock-wise gives better views.
Estimated time to complete is supposedly 2 to 3 hours but I took 6 stopping often for pictures and of course, lost time for my fall at the top of the High Skyline Trail section when I sidestepped around another person in a very narrow section. I lost my footing, slid down the scree and fell about 30 feet dropping my poles and one water bottle. Other hikers guided me to safer ground below since I couldn't climb back up safely and threw rocks down to loosen my "stranded" poles and water bottle.
I had to exit via a snow bank to rejoin the trail. After the shock wore off I realized that my ankle really hurt and I decided to cut the full loop hike and travel down the Golden Gate Trail. Chugging a couple of Advil and slapping on some bandaids enabled me to walk myself down to my waiting husband at Paradise Lodge.
We wrapped my ankle for the next few days and went sightseeing before flying home to Maryland. After limping on my swollen ankle for 11 days I gave in and decided to get it x-rayed; broken! But I already knew that and this way I avoided a hard cast.
But don't let my experience keep anyone from this popular trail. It was definitely the best hike I have ever done solo! The views are amazing and the opportunity to take panoramic photos is exceptional! If you take only one day hike at Rainier this could be it! But bring all the water you might need with you. Don't do as one family I saw and stand at the snowbank and try to refill your one 12 oz. Dasani water bottle for four people!