Goat Island Mountain

Gary was free and John and his friend Paul were too. We chose to head to Mt. Rainier for a July snow scramble. I did this trip with the Mountaineers in 2002. I came back with Gary in 2006. On both trips a sunny morning gave way to clouds. I wanted to go back on a completely sunny day and this one was perfect. It was going to be hot and with no shade for half the trip we chose an early start. I was on the road at 5:40 am. After picking up Gary, John, and Paul we reached the Fryingpan Creek trailhead (3800') up the White River at 7:50 am and were on the trail by 8:00 am. We were early enough to get a parking spot in the small lot though we were far from the first to arrive.

The trail meets the Wonderland Trail in short order. The route is very gentle as it works its way up the valley of Fryingpan Creek. Some snow patches in the first mile but no snow on the trail until a couple miles in. The snow was patchy at first then continuous in forest. Some more bare spots in the sun. The snow was well consolidated all day. We reached the bridge to find it in fine shape. Lots of water roaring down the creek. From the bridge on it was all on snow to the ridge top. Lots of ski tracks from the bridge up the valley. There are still a lot more skiers than hikers on this route. Views up to Rainier and Little Tahoma began and only got better as we ascended.

The summer trail soon begins to switchback to the left up to Summerland. Our route angled right out onto the moraine. The creek was exposed at first then partly snow covered and finally completely under snow. The crux of the trip is getting across the creek. We had enough snow left to make a solid bridge. We crossed the buried creek and continued up the valley. The route finally began to steepen. We stayed just left then above the trees as we angled right towards the saddle. Good firm snow for kicking steps but not too hard. We had to weave though some trees right before the saddle. From the ridge top saddle the views get even better. Rainier and Little Tahoma above and another big moraine below.

There are trees on the lower ridge and we had to do some more weaving to get through but it was not difficult. Behind us we could look down to Summerland (Winterland?) and up to Panhandle Gap. A track already leads up to the heavily corniced gap. As we ascended the trees became smaller and eventually disappeared completely. The bump ahead of us was Point 7218. The real summit is at 7288' and is still another .85 miles away. Great 360 degree views from Point 7218. The summit of Mt. Rainier had a small cloud on it much of the day but the rest of the sky was clear and deep blue. As on my two previous trips we saw nobody above Fryingpan Creek. Unlike my two previous trips the sky stayed clear. Great views all day long.

The ridge walk was among the highlights of the day. Some snow on the north side of the ridge top but also bare in many places. Easy walking with some ups and downs. The ridge narrows to a knife edge in one spot. A heck of a drop off on the left side but no exposure on the right. The ridge turns to the left and there is one more uphill climb to the top. Nothing else up there except for all the ladybugs. We arrived on top at 12:05 pm, just in time for lunch. At a steady pace with lots of photo stops we took 4 hours to hike 6 1/2 miles. We could see Glacier Peak, Mt. Stuart, Mt. Adams, and Mts. Baker and Hood very faintly. Across the valley the lodge at Sunrise was visible too. A great place to see from Panhandle gap to Mt. Ruth and Steamboat Prow around to The three Burroughs Mountains and Mt. Fremont. The viewpoint for Mt. Rainier is one of the best I have seen. More than 10,000' of mountain from the summit down to Glacier Basin and the White River.

We were in no hurry to get back and had a nice 1:20 stay on top. With maximum zoom I could see ski tracks all over Meany Crest and every other steep slope. Lots of people were out enjoying the sunny day on the mountain. At 1:25 pm we headed down. Still in no hurry as the long ridge walk is among the best to be seen. Coming down off Point 7218 we stopped again to watch two skiers coming down from near Summerland and then two more coming down from high above the valley. Back at the saddle Paul chose to plunge step back down to the moraine, which proved to be much faster. The rest of us did side hilled across to open slopes to glissade down. I never pass up a chance for a long glissade.

The slope was plenty steep and the snow had softened a little in the afternoon sunshine. The conditions were perfect. Fast enough but with speed easily controlled. The map shows we came down about 500' in a couple glissades. Our pants were wet but it was warm enough that that was appreciated. The day had become very warm. On the ridge we had a cooling breeze that made a huge difference. Not so much wind in the moraine but easy downhill travel. Back near the summer trail we passed a few groups of skiers. Some were only now heading uphill in the late afternoon heat. We crossed the bridge and soon enough were back in cooler forest.

The rest of the way down was just nice easy forest hiking on a very gently graded trail. With our glissading we had very little knee pounding on this trip. We arrived back at the car at 4:45 pm. There were a lot of hikers in the last mile. This was an almost perfect day hike. Great sunshine and spectacular views. A terrific ridge walk. Lots of time on the summit with great views in all directions. A cool breeze on an otherwise hot day and good company. Hard to beat Mt. Rainier with conditions like that.

First Waterfall
Early View Out
No Snow On Bridges
Peaks Near Summerland
Fryingpan Creek Bridge
Mt. Rainier In Sight
Rainier Up Close
Route To Ridge
Winter In July
Heading To Saddle
Rainier Framed
Little Tahoma
Paul At Ridge
10,000' Of Elevation
Hiking Up Ridge
Huge Moraine
Gary On Ridge
Point 7218 Ahead
Big & Little Tahoma
Snowy Little Tahoma
Steamboat Prow
Mt. Ruth
Mt Adams
Cowlitz & Banshee
Summit In Sight
Long Ridge Walk
Ridge We Ascended
Reaching Summit
Group On Summit
Mt. Fremont
Cowlitz Chimneys
Gary On Summit
Western Anemone
Leaving Summit
Narrow Ridge
Glacier Basin
John On Ridge
Gary Takes A Break
Back On Snow
Descending To Saddle
Distant Skiers
Glissade Tracks
Back Across Bridge
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2012