Hiking in Mount Rainier National Park

It’s wildflower bloom time in Mount Rainier National Park. There are hundreds of species of wildflowers in the park, and the most concentrated areas of them are in the subalpine Paradise Meadows. The image above shows colorful Magenta Paintbrush in the foreground.

This particular hike took me higher in elevation than I’ve ever attempted before, approaching the alpine region where one encounters snowfields to cross. This is where I stopped, as I did not want to risk any slips or falls on the slippery, melting snow. I encountered many groups of hikers, all geared up to trek to the mountain base camp, Camp Muir. Mountain climbers from all over the world come to Mount Rainier to train for other mountainous expeditions. It is a mountain to be taken very seriously. Because it is so tall (14,410 ft). the mountain creates its own weather; conditions can change in the blink of an eye. Every year, many climbers require rescue and some even perish.

So here are a few snapshots I took, looking behind me as I ascended. The first image show part of the Tatoosh Range, which is in the opposite direction. The second image shows the Nisqually River Valley. The headwaters of this river form from the Nisqually Glacier.

Here is a magnificent view of the mountain from the Glacier Vista viewpoint. Hike up a bit further to see equally magnificent views of the Nisqually Glacier.

Along the way I encountered lots of wildlife. Amidst the craggy rocks lives the Hoary Marmot. You can hear them calling to one another with whistling sounds. They don’t seem to be afraid of humans, either.

Another very common sight is the very cute Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel.

Another denizen of the subalpine regions of the park is the Blue Grouse. You have to be keenly observant and have sharp eyes to see these guys, as they blend into their environment. I happened to spot this guy in the distance, milling around in the foliage. What attracted my attention was some sort of quiet, peeping sound I was not familiar with.

One last view of the mountain!

If you want to attempt any high elevation hiking in the park, even if just for one day, please be prepared with the proper gear: hiking boots/shoes, trekking poles, water, energy bars, hat, outer wear, sunscreen, whistle, first-aid kit. And, please check weather conditions before heading out.  Enjoy the summer and your national parks!

All images property of Peggy A Thompson


About northwestphotos

A long time resident of Washington State, located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest USA. I enjoy regional travel, exploring all the wondrous, natural settings that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. If you get a chance, visit my Northwestphotos Zazzle store, http://www.zazzle.com/northwestphotos.
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7 Responses to Hiking in Mount Rainier National Park

  1. Magnificent, breathtaking landscapes!

    The marmots remind me of the groundhogs we see here, but those are very skittish around people, and the colouration is different.

    • Thanks, so much! Marmots are rodents that are actually very large squirrels. I saw them actually coming right up to people, looking for a hand-out. Obviously, some humans have been feeding them, which is against the park’s rules.

  2. Gunta says:

    Wonderful hike and great images you brought back with you. I bet it was exhilarating. Looks like, so far, Washington isn’t getting as much fire and smoke as last year. Wish we could say the same down here to the south! Though honestly, we’ve been lucky to be out of its path for the most part!

    • The hike was a bit more than exhilarating for me. I will not be doing it again! It’s the same trail that climbers use to reach base camp and then on to the summit. I just wanted to reach the snow level and then stop. I am in no condition to go any further than I did. Boy, did my legs hurt for a few days afterwards! Personally, I think the worst part is coming back down. It’s very demanding on the feet and ankle joints, constantly putting on the brakes. These are very steep trails! And the air is thinner as well.
      Our skies have been hazy here this past week with all the fires and heat. We have a fire on the east side of the Olympics that has just grown much bigger in size. And then we have some big fires in central Washington, 3 that I know of. And yes, a lot of the smoke haze is coming from Oregon and CA fires. At one point we had smoke pouring down from British Columbia fires, too. It’s pretty bad when one can’t see Mount Rainier from the Puget Sound region because of all the smoke haze. Thank goodness, the 90 degree heat will be breaking, starting Friday, with a good chance of some rain on Saturday. Then it’s back to warmer temps again next week. It’s gonna be a long August!

  3. Gunta says:

    Sorry to hear it was a struggle. Yes indeed, it’s harder on the legs coming down than going up. You’re using muscles that aren’t used to that sort of a workout. I also know what a number altitude can do to you. I spent one very miserable night at 10,000 ft. (Great Basin NP), panting just to walk 50′ to the restroom. There was a time when it wouldn’t have bothered me, but that was when I lived in Utah in the mountains, not close to sea level like now.

  4. BriarCraft says:

    Good for you for completing that demanding hike. I can just imagine those achy bones and muscles on the way back down. It’s more than my old bones could ever manage. I very much enjoyed seeing the mountain from a perspective that I’ll never see in person.

    • You are right about how difficult it is coming back down from such a steep climb! Everyone seems to think that descending is so much easier than ascending. Not true! This is where well-sized, fitted hiking boots help along with thick socks for padding. Boots should be a half to whole size larger than what your street shoes normally are. And trekking poles for braking support help, too!

Thank you!

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