Monday, August 25, 2008

I climbed Mt Rainier (sorta) and I liked it

I'll clarify - I made it to a little higher than Panorama Point which is at 6800 ft. What I was more impressed with is the fact that my dad hiked with me, all the way. Though he was slower on the way up, he was loping on the way down and had the lead till almost the very end. I think the little pep talk on our way up promising him that he'd get a 2nd wind really motivated him. The sight of so many folks on their way back from Panorama Point definitely helped!

It was such a fantastic experience - Rainier up close is stupendous, more so because you see how it towers over the surrounding mountains. The clear view of Mt Baker and a hazy view of St Helens make Panorama Point a truly must visit spot if you're in Seattle. The fifteen odd minutes we spent at the top of our climb soaking in the sights was time very well spent; I only wish my brother was with us to experience the exhilaration my dad and I felt being one with nature. We couldn't have planned the day better even if we tried...

The beseeching of my dad to wake up is the first thing I remember from last morning. It was a little before 8am, and I had to get my act together or else... I dressed, my dad whipped up a few sandwiches, I picked up a few bottles of water, the last Fresca and a towel (you never know when it's gonna rain in Seattle), and away we were. We didn't need a GPS to get to Rainier - it's large enough for you to not get lost X-), and there were enough signposts on the way indicating which way we should turn.

The slightly overcast yet warm weather made for pleasant driving weather, and we made it to Rainier a little before Noon. The drive was boring until we got to the meandering roads leading up to Paradise from the park's entry gates. Meandering roads navigated at high speeds lead to one certainty - the sweet smell of burning rubber in the parking lot. On a whim, we decided to hike up to Panorama Point, which was 2.5 miles up from Paradise Inn. In hindsight, that was a good call - the trail was steep enough to be challenging yet doable, and after a few stops on the way to grab a sandwich or to quench our thirst with ice-cold water flowing through the many streams, we finally made it to the top. I realized something on the trail - hikers are some of the friendliest people you can meet. We were guided and goaded along the way by almost everyone we met, and most everyone on the trail had a smile on their face. I guess being in the outdoors has a calming effect on folks - who knew?! :)

Mt Rainier has its own unique weather system - it was calm on the way up, extremely windy at Panorama Point, and true to Seattle weather, it rained part of the way down. After than four hours of walking, we were ready for the drive back home. While my dad was passed out, and I was driving on familiar roads, it dawned on me that this was a trip of many firsts - first time to Rainier, first time stopping at a town with less than 300 people (Greenwater, WA), first time driving through Enumclaw (hopefully my last), and a first Wet Style Burrito at Bimbo's Cantina in Capitol Hill. The adventure had come to an end, and the exhaustion hit me like a rock as I pulled into my driveway. I took one last look at the pictures of the day gone by, and hit the sack. Aah, the restful sleep after an amazing day...

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