Self Supported Looping

Governors Ridge from point 6240Loop hikes are great, but if these are not available then one is relegated to out and backs. I'm finding that judicious use of a bike can allow me to cover more distance in the hike. This week I did a test run where I parked at the Stevens Canyon entrance to Mt Rainier National Park and hopped on my vintage Gary Fisher hard tail and biked HiWay 123 north to the White River entrance, just short of 18 miles with 2600 feet of climb. Then it was retraining my limbs for the climb to Owyhigh Lakes on trail where I continued on the Eastside trail south back to my vehicle. With similar stats for the hike (17 miles/2600') it made for a longish 11 hour day but I was able to cover so much more distance with the bike thrown into the mix. Most people use bikes for stretches on roads that are closed to vehicles or to bridge a loop hike at two different trailheads. In this case of course I had to drive back to the White River entrance and retrieve my bike from the woods, but this was an excellent test of my recovery where I even threw in a short climb from Owyhigh Lakes to point 6240 to check out the views of Rainier. The most notable aspect of this 35 mile day was the pleasure I felt with being able to pull it off without undue stress, although my legs were protesting on those last few miles. I would call my recovery complete and am optimistically looking forward to upping the game over the next weeks, building towards much more difficult endeavors. Mentally this hike was a total game changer for me, following last week's Loowit trail....I'm starting to believe I can pull off some of my more ambitious planned outings, especially using this combo of bike/hike to give me total solo freedom.

one of many waterfalls on the Eastside Trailperfect combo of sun and rainMt. Rainier's Eastside Trail is a watery old growth paradise