Mount Rainier National Park (NP #32), Washington

My time in Mount Rainier National Park (map / wiki) was brief. I was in and out in record time.

 

I entered from the northeast and drove directly to Sunrise Visitor Center to have a quick look at the mountain and to register for a backcountry permit (fyi: they prefer you register for back country permits at White River Wilderness Center).

 

It was middle afternoon when I pulled up. The sun was positioned beyond the mountain, and the glancing glare off of the nearside Emmons Glacier created terrible lighting. I decided to wait until morning to spend any significant time lining up camera angles toward Mt. Rainier.

 

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Drive up to Sunrise Visitor Center. That is Mt. Rainier.

 

The three mile trail into the Glacier Basin campsite was easy going, and, similar to my hike through North Cascades NP, I enjoyed recognizing the pacific northwest character of the forest.

 

The black soil is matted with pine needles and bordered occasionally with mounds of spongy crumbling logs which themselves are red with moisture and irregularly dressed in with patchwork moss. I crossed over babbling water tumbles coming from my right (north), and the chatter from the ones I passed transitioned softly into the ones I was coming up on. The glacial stream to my left (south) ran back the way I came and picked its way through a cobblestone bed wide enough to accommodate a much greater flow rate.

 

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gurgle gurgle splish-splash.

 

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Late afternoon is a good time to hike for photography.

 

I arrived at camp after dusk. It had sprinkled on and off during my hike-in, and the rain continued during tent set up and dinner. I remained optimistic for tomorrow.

 

The wind picked up in the early morning, and I startled awake with my tent folded down to my face.

 

One half of my site was bordered by trees, so unimpeded wind could only come from an exposed arc of ~180°. The gusts came in sets like waves and the sets were spaced out by about two minutes. I could hear these sets begin to whistle from 10 seconds off. The wooshing sound would build and build before ever reaching me. Half the time the gusts climaxed without hardly touching my tent and half the time they practically rolled me over (I didn’t bring tent stakes, of course). I tried to locate the source of the wind to predict if they would hit me or not, but they always sounded like they came from the same direction (See diagram below). Half landed, half missed.

 

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Sure enough the next morning everything was completely socked in, no chance of viewing the peak in all its morning glory. It’s a bummer to pack up camp in the rain too – even worse than unpacking in the rain.

 

That reminds me, I still need to dry out my soggy tent.

 

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Morning hike-out.

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