Trip 1 – day hikes at Mt. Rainier National Park – began Tuesday. This means we are in our last few days of having PasstoPass hikers on the trail.
The Trip 1 team is hiking at an easy, relaxed pace and staying at The National Park Inn at Longmire.
The team assembled late Tuesday morning at the Kautz Creek parking lot. Their itinerary called for eating lunch and then hiking about 2.3 miles.
Trip leader Judi shared this description of the hike: “This is a moderate-incline hike, perfect for an introduction to Mt. Rainier. The trail surface is a mix of sand and stone left by the creek when it changed course. Through the alders, you can glimpse the eroded banks along with stands of evergreens still holding their ground. In just over a mile, arrive at a log bridge spanning a branch of Kautz Creek and delivering you the other side. This will be our snack break, and then we will return to the parking lot and drive to The National Park Inn.”
Planned evening activities included dinner at the Inn; gathering in the Fireside Room for a short presentation: “The Mountain is Calling”; and time to get to know fellow hikers, play card games, and enjoy hot chocolate.
Trip 5 Update
The Trip 5 team got on the trail about 9 a.m. Tuesday. Assistant trip leader Eric reported: “All is wonderful. Smoke has cleared.”
The mid-morning report included: “At Sourdough Gap. All humans and llamas are doing great.”
Wta.org says of Sourdough Gap: “Sourdough Gap is a small saddle in a rocky-edged ridge. The hike from [Sheep Lake] to the gap offers increasingly picturesque views … Once at the gap, you will be rewarded with grand views … On a clear day you can see the surrounding South Cascades, including Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. … [T]he scenery is postcard beautiful with Sheep Lake and Mt. Adams to the south and Placer Lake and Norse Peak to the north.”
A bit later, Eric reported: “Most of our hikers took a brief side trip up to the Crystal Lake/Mt. Rainier overlook but it was clouded in. Stopped briefly at the Bear Gap Trail junction. Everyone is doing well. Perfect cool temperatures.”
By early Tuesday afternoon, the Trip 5 team arrived at their Henskin Lake campsite. Stats for the day: About 5 miles including the side trip; 935 feet cumulative up and 1,252 feet cumulative down; elevation: 5,423 feet.
Steve chose not to continue on the hike because of issues going downhill. Trip leader Linda hiked Steve and support hiker Mike out to the Crystal Mountain Lodge. Linda’s husband, Brian, met them and drove them back to their car at the Chinook Pass Trailhead. John and Peter accompanied them on the hike out and returned with Linda to camp Tuesday afternoon – the three of them enjoyed adult beverages at Crystal Mountain Resort before rejoining the team.
Eric reported Tuesday evening: “Meanwhile, Jheri, Skylar Wally, and Eric drank Steve’s homemade tequila and played card games while the others were away. The llamas were fed and watered, and it is now time for dinner for the rest of us.
“All is well. It is likely to be another quite chilly night. Monday night, temperatures were probably in the low 40s, and Tuesday night will be that or lower. The logistics of an early exit for Steve and Mike worked out great due to our proximity to the Crystal Mountain Resort and having Linda’s husband on standby. Thankfully we all now have ‘antifreeze’ in our bloodstreams. Everyone is wearing their puffy jackets to sleep in.
“Oh, and we saw what we think was fresh bear scat as we entered camp. Lots of berries around to attract those guys. The llamas should keep us and our food safe.”
The llamas act as both a large animal deterrent and alarm system.