The Burroughs, 07/19/09

After “losing” the first weekend in July to my grandmother’s 80th birthday party and the second to a Saturday spent soaking at Breitenbush Hot Springs, we were well overdue for a hike. Sunday was the only day available to us, so we settled on a dayhike at Mt. Rainier National Park.  I’d seen some stunning photographs taken from the Burroughs trail near Sunrise, and yearned for some in-your-face views of The Mountain—on prior trips to Mt. Rainier National Park (Spray Park, Summerland) the eponymous mountain remained frustratingly hidden in cloudcover.  If the weather forecast was to be believed, this day would be different.  It was.

Mt. Rainier and wildflowers from just above Sunrise.

Mt. Rainier and wildflowers from just above Sunrise.

On top of our hike starting at the always-busy Sunrise Visitor Center, we learned during the week that it was Get Into Your National Park Free Day, or some such thing.  So I set my alarm early, had no trouble getting Nicole out of bed, and we were on the road at 04:40.  I love early starts, but even as we cruised through Enumclaw and the tip of The Mountain lit up, I wished we’d started even earlier.  At 06:40, just two hours later, we pulled into Sunrise with our pick of the parking lot.  Ten minutes later, we were on wide empty trails through lupine with outstanding views of Mt. Rainier.  Of course, the views of Mt. Rainier are outstanding from the parking lot.

hikers_50

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Lake Ingalls, 08/03/08

After a one-weekend hiking hiatus (which actually amounts to about fourteen days, and felt like every minute of it) we were determined to make the most of our common day off, and get out and hike.  Since we’re still left with just Sundays–a temporary situation, we hope–we weren’t looking for an overnighter, and it had to be something marginally nearby.  I’d seen a trip report or two for Lake Ingalls lately, so I kept that in my mind as Nicole and I set about our routine of searching websites and guidebooks for other possibilities.  I wouldn’t call it wasted time, but in the end, we decided on Lake Ingalls anyway.  I think I can speak for the both of us when I say that we’re glad we did.

Panorama at Lake Ingalls.

Panorama at Lake Ingalls. Click if you care to embiggen.

Lake Ingalls sits just inside the Alpine Lake Wilderness boundary, in the Teanaway area of Washington State.  In years past, almost all of our hikes ended at an alpine–or, more likely, at that time, sub-alpine lake.  Mason Lake, Lake Valhalla, Rachel Lake, Watson Lakes…  We loved rewarding ourselves with a cool dip or cold plunge and some time spent resting before the return down.  This year, somehow, we’d yet to take a hike with a lake for a reward; the Pacific Ocean doesn’t count.  Lake Ingalls, which sits at an elevation of about 6500’, sounded perfect.

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Nason Ridge, 07/20/08

A Monday commitment meant that we were left searching for a Sunday day hike, and this time Nicole made the call: Nason Ridge, right between US-2 and Lake Wenatchee. Actually, she’s supposed to be writing up this trip report, but it seems we’ll have to settle for some of her comments and impressions on this hike toward the end of this entry. Or look for a separate post from her on this topic. So: based on the trip reports, we expected a moderately difficult hike with no snow, decent views, an alpine lookout, and the high possibility of a mountain goat encounter. We weren’t disappointed.

Like many, we approached Nason Ridge via Round Mountain Trail #1529. Green Trails Map #145 (Wenatchee Lake) shows three ways up to Nason Ridge from US-2, but the route up Round Mountain has the advantage of having the highest starting elevation, at 3900’. The trailhead sits at the end of Road 6910, which is maybe 1/4 mile east of the Nason Creek Rest Area–we knew it was coming, and we still ended up missing it and turning around (look for a driveway with mailboxes and a small 6910 sign) . The road up to the trailhead is in suitable shape for most anyone–we took the Focus this time, and had no problem making it the ~4 miles to the trailhead.

We arrived at the trailhead at 09:55 to find five other cars and an outhouse, which we didn’t use because we’d stopped at the rest area just minutes before. We’d left West Seattle at 07:35, and run into minimal traffic, so that’s a little over two hours of driving time. We stepped out of the car to put on our boots and were immediately greeted by hungry mosquitoes. After applying sunscreen and bug dope, we set off. 10:10.

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Mt Aix, 06/29/08-06/30/08

After a good week or so of searching guidebooks and websites for a high-altitude trail that maybe–just maybe–wasn’t completely covered in snow, I finally came across a few different references1 of the Mt Aix trail. Most were at least a year old, and therefore the conditions they described weren’t really applicable to this Spring’s stubborn snows and late melt; but there was a trip report from the end of May at NWHikers.net that was quite detailed. I decided that a month’s worth of southwestern exposure–including the three or four 80-90° days leading up to the day(s) of our hike–would’ve had a significant impact on the snow level, and that if we were lucky, we’d be able to make it prett’ near to the top. With the weather clear and hot, we’d also be able to fully appreciate the views that everyone assured would be there if it weren’t for those darn clouds. So: good weather, good views, and a hike with a difficulty rating I’d have to hide from Nicole. I stopped at REI and bought myself the Bumping Lake #271 Green Trails Map.

Since this weekend was our first wedding anniversary, we decided to elongate the trip by car-camping somewhere near Bumping Lake on Saturday night.

I have to take time out here to mention that this was our first time driving along WA-410, and it definitely will not be the last. It’s a great drive with amazing views. At one point, just after entering Mount Rainier National Park, I believe, there’s a great reveal of The Mountain, which led Nicole to exclaim: “Mother of God!” I don’t think she was very far off.

Mt Rainier from WA-410

Mt Rainier from WA-410.

Once off of Highway 410, there seemed to be dozens of side-of-the-road sites along Bumping River, but since it was a beautiful Saturday, almost all were occupied, and we didn’t even bother turning into the Forest Service pay-sites. Just before Bumping Lake there’s a no-fee Forest Service campground called Bumping River Crossing, and that’s where we pulled in for the evening. It had an outhouse and we brought two bottles of Cristalino that we weren’t going to carry up Mt Aix the next day, so it was more than adequate. The campground was populated, but still nearly half-empty, and we settled into a quiet site away from the river and collected twigs and branches for a small but necessary campfire–for the S’mores, of course.


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