Another hot day
and Gary had a plan
to beat the heat. I got up at 4:30 am was on the road by 5:10. I drove
to Gary's place in Kent and he drove from there. Gary wanted to be home
early and I wanted to hike before the heat of the day. Mission
accomplished. I had only hiked Crystal Peak two times before and the
last time was 14 years ago. We sped through Enumclaw and up 410 with
hardly any traffic. The trailhead is a few miles past the Crystal
Mountain turn off in Mt. Rainier National Park right on Highway 410.
Most folks take the easier trail to Crystal Lakes. The peak is 3.8
miles one way with 3100' of gain.
We were on the trail by 7:00 am. This was the perfect choice for this
day. The trail is smooth with almost no steps or rocks. Just the thing
for tired legs after 12 miles the day before. It is mostly in forest
and higher up the west facing trail kept us out of the sun. Only a few
patches of sun before the summit. Once out of the forest the slopes are
covered with flowers and fading flowers. There was quite a beargrass
display about a month ago. Just the stalks are left now.
Paintbrush is still going strong and many asters. I saw some bluebells,
valerian, and a few others. It would have been a great color show in
early July. The trail does gain a little over 800'/mile though it is so
smooth it does not seem steep. With 500' to go Gary took off for a
little sprinting and I took a few more photos. Mt. Rainier comes into
view after a mile or so on the lower trail and higher up the
view is unimpeded.
While there were few clouds there was a lot of haze. The mountain was
not as clear as I was expecting. I saw the Cowlitz Chimneys and was
able to pick out Banshee Peak where I visited two weeks ago. The summit
is just under 6500' and the view to the west really is spectacular.
Crystal Lakes are visible below. The upper lake is especially nice
though the glare made it hard to photograph. Just before reaching the
summit we passed one hiker already heading down. I arrived a few
minutes after 9:00.
There were some bugs on top but there was also a steady gentle breeze.
A few bites but no need for more than shorts and short sleeves. We
spent over an hour on top and started down at 10:10. We went off trail
at first and met back up with the trail shortly. Coming down we met a
few folks on the peak trail but not many. There were more folks after
the junction. Most were likely going to the lakes. It was only 11:35
when we reached the car. I think I can safely say I have never hiked to
a summit in Mt. Rainier NP and been back to the car that early. It was
already in the low 80s. I was glad not to be heading up this late.
By 1:00 pm Gary was home and half an hour later so was I. We succeded
in beating the heat and getting in a 3100' gain hike. The haze was
disappointing but the views of Mt. Rainier are among the very best. A
great day in the mountains even if I did have to get up at 4:30 am.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Red, White, & Yellow
Still In Shade
Close Look At Rainier
Gary On Crystal Summit
Rainier From Summit
View To The South
Upper Crystal Lake
Gary On Meadow Slope
Trips - 2009