Yesterday I hiked up Mount Washington for the first time. I've done a lot of hikes in the area over the years, and this one is certainly a memorable one. The app on my phone said about eight miles round trip, and 3,300 feet elevation gain. This is one of the harder hikes I've done in a while in terms of elevation gain, and often times the trail resembled a rocky stream bed more than a trail.
I climbed up steadily, leaving the dull roar of I90 behind. Even getting an early start, I was still working up quite a sweat as I navigated the rocky footing and steep grade.
It was still early enough in the season for wildflowers, and every so often the forest would open up enough to allow them to bloom and I'd get a glimpse of the surrounding mountains. I could see some of the spots I'd hiked before, McClellan Butte, Mt. Si, Little Si, and Rattlesnake Mountain. I wondered how many times I had gazed at this mountain from those vantage points.
While this hike has some big views, it also has some of those little gems too: the small brook you step over as it fills your ears with the sound of gently falling water, the sweet smell of the flowers and as they shake off their morning dew, the sun just cresting the peaks and gilding the treetops on the way to the valley floor.
Going early also afforded a fair amount of solitude, as I only encountered about half a dozen people on the way up. It was much more crowded coming down, as I passed dozens of hikers making their way to the top.
It was a great morning hike, and one that I may revisit in the Fall.
Welcome to my first blog, For my first trip to Mt. Rainier this year, I headed out on a cloudy Sunday morning with hopes of clearing weather and without a clear destination in mind.
After making my way through a few spats of drizzle, I entered the park from the Nisqually entrance. I like this route up to Paradise because there are so many waterfalls to choose from, and cloudy weather is great for photographing waterfalls.
I wandered up past the Longmire Museum and when I went by the Comet Falls trailhead, someone was pulling out. This was a sign! Parking here is always tight, so it was about time to see for myself what all the fuss was about.
The hike itself is less than two miles into the Falls, but it makes you work for it. Lots of steep steps and a few waterfalls along the way that would be worthwhile destinations in their own right. I crossed a small bridge with a three tier waterfall, stopping to take some pictures. I see the sign, Comet Falls, 200 feet. I rounded the corner and immediately saw what all the fuss is about! It's the tallest waterfall in the park, and the clouds were hugging the top of the falls. I couldn't ask for a better view. I definitely understood why parking was always tight, even when getting there early.
In addition to the stunning falls, there were wildflowers blooming. By the time I had my fill exploring, the sun was starting to poke through the thinning clouds.
After taking dozens of pictures, I made my way back down. There was already someone waiting to take my spot. I grabbed a quick lunch and headed out towards more sightseeing.
I was hoping to see the Grove of the Patriarchs, but it was jam packed when I went by. An adventure for another day.
I ended up driving up to Cayuse pass and then back down highway 410 towards Enumclaw. There were still a fair number of clouds, so clear views of Rainier were scarce. All in all a great first trip of the year. I'll be back!
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