Crystal Peak

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.

Mt. Rainier
Closer Look
First Flowers
More Flowers
Blue Flowers
Red, White, & Yellow
Still In Shade
Close Look At Rainier
Little Tahoma
Gary On Crystal Summit
Rainier From Summit
View To The South
Upper Crystal Lake
Gary On Meadow Slope
Indian Paintbrush
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2009