A few weekends ago Adam and I made our first trip back to Mt. Rainier since moving home to Oregon. I don’t know if we realized it at the time but we ended up hitting it at the absolute pinnacle of wildflower season on the south side of the mountain. Last year when we first moved to Seattle we visited Rainier a few weeks after all of the wildflowers had already come and gone. The park rangers said to us, “oh you should have seen it a few weeks ago!” but we hardly paid that any mind because being in the park for the first time was mind-blowing, even without the flowers. We spent numerous weekends there throughout the fall and winter when we lived in Seattle. Fast forward to the first weekend in August this year and we couldn’t have timed our return better. This is what it looked like:
When we initially pulled into the campground the dreaded “campground full” sign was out but we decided to ask the ranger anyway. (I’m sure they love that). What do you know, a space had just become available! We were so happy and proceeded to have an epic weekend camping, hanging out with marmots, and walking through alpine meadows at sunrise.
Now with wildflower season being so short, we wanted to go back the following weekend. We packed up the car just as we had for the weekend prior and headed to the park on Friday, a five hour drive from home. As we approached the entrance we decided that if we could not get a camp site, we would take it as a sign that we were supposed to do something else even more fun. We were in such good moods and feeling positive vibes all around. Low and behold, the “campground full” sign was out and there were no miracle openings. We started driving and brainstorming.
We definitely could have found somewhere near the park to camp, but instead we thought, “Where have we been dying to go in Washington?” and “What the heck are Madi and Sulee doing?” Sulee and Madi were our first friends in Washington as well as fellow Mountain Chicks ambassadors. As we drove back towards cell service we got in touch with Madi and told her we wanted to go camping somewhere. She had just returned from a road trip down the west coast and just so happened to be free. She suggested a place we could backpack to in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and we jumped at the idea. It was one of the places we had been dying to see. She also had a few items for backpacking that we had not brought with us on our would-be camping adventure, thankfully. Adam calls Madi the human Swiss-army knife because she is always that well equipped. Thats a trait we look for in adventure buddies-preparedness!
We headed another 2.5 hours North to Madi’s house and made sure we had all of the necessary supplies. We hit the Snow Lake trailhead around 6:30pm with the hopes of reaching our camping destination before sunset, but no such luck. Madi and I had spent too much time chit-chatting at the house beforehand. We got to a camp site just after dark, but it was perfect! Madi hung her hammock and we pitched a tent next to her. We spent a few hours talking, listening to music, and taking photos. I was the first to pass out but Adam and Madi soon followed because we wanted to shoot sunrise in the morning!
We woke up around 5am on Saturday, packed up our camp, and started hiking around the lake. This was my first real chance to see the place we had hiked to the night before. It was absolutely breathtaking. We were able to hike about another mile around the lake when the fog started rolling in heavily. We stopped to make coffee and breakfast in the hopes it would clear up. We did get some breaks in the fog which made for great photos, but soon the rain started and we decided to hike out. In hindsight this was the best decision because I cannot overstate the superhighway of people that were hiking in as we hiked out. This is a very popular trail and probably best enjoyed during the week or early in the morning. Information on the trail can be found here. This trip was a good reminder to always have a waterproof layer, even if he forecast calls for it to be dry! We could all take a lesson from Madi the human Swiss-Army knife, being prepared is cool!
Sulee was resting this weekend so she didn't backpack with us but she did come to hangout at Madi's house on Saturday so that we could all catch up and get some cute photos of her and her baby bump! Mountain Chicks reunion!