Hiking, Camping, and Skiing in Mount Rainier National Park
May 29-30, 2015
We had plans in Seattle last Saturday night, so we decided to make the most of the remainder of our Memorial Day Weekend by heading down to Mount Rainier National Park. We had a late start to our morning because Maggie got word the night before that we have a new Nephew, Everett, and we were waiting to hear more news on that front! With it being a holiday weekend, we weren’t sure what to expect as far as campsite availability was in the park, but we were pleasantly surprised to find plenty of space in the Cougar Rock Campground when we arrived around lunch time. We secured our campsite, and headed down to Longmire to hike the Rampart Ridge Loop. It was a nice 4.5 mile loop with 1300′ of elevation gain. It was cloudy with some light rain, but it actually made for quite pleasant hiking weather and Mount Rainier even made some appearances through the clouds. After the hike, we mozied around the buildings at Longmire, before heading up to Paradise to get a look at our destination for the next day, the Tatoosh Range. After scoping out the conditions from afar, we headed back down to the campsite, lounged around then had a delicious meal of mac’n’cheese, brats, chips, and beers (mhmm car camping!) It was cold and clear at night which got my hopes up for some good corn skiing the next day.
After making delicious breakfast burritos and coffee, we packed up camp and headed to the Reflection Lakes Trailhead on the Stevens Canyon Road. When I skied here back in March, I had to skin this road from the Narada Falls Trailhead so it sure was nice to be able to park so close this time. The snow was still right up to the road, so we were able to skin from the get-go. The ascent up to our destination required some fairly challenging skinning and I was proud of Maggie for the way she handled it. The snow was still firm in the shade on the way up and I could tell the snowpack had a good re-freeze overnight so I started to get excited for our descent!
We made it to our high-point just east of The Castle at about 11 am. After enjoying the sunshine, lunch, and incredible views of Mount Rainier and the crowds on the Muir Snowfield, we began our descent around noon. This was prefect timing for the corn and the turns down the snowfield were fantastic for about 400 vertical feet. It started to get a little mushy after that, but it was fun nonetheless to ski through the tight trees down to the car. We took our time at the car, let our boots and skins dry out, and enjoyed cold beverages before beginning our trek back to Seattle. We decided to drive around Mount Rainier National Park the long way via Stevens Canyon Road to Cayuse Pass to HWY 410. It was a beautiful drive and fun to see parts of the park we hadn’t been to before.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip down to the park and we packed a lot of fun activities into about a 24 hours period!