Vista from 8700' from Ptarmigan Ridge on the Grand Tour

Vista from 8700' from Ptarmigan Ridge on the Grand Tour

Anyone delving into the meat of this website knows I have extensive experience hiking the Wonderland Trail....30 times at least. In the past decade I started exploring areas of Rainier off trail, and have written about a circumnavigation hitting these highlights that I have termed the Mount Rainier Grand Tour. With terabytes of video and photos, I have everything I need to begin showcasing this incredible park, and will present this collection on these pages. I have already time lapsed every foot of the Wonderland, including the alternate route over Spray Park. I have documented every notable bike route and (bike) climb around the mountain, including the Ipsut Creek trail, the West Side Road, Longmire to Paradise, Sunset Park Road, highway 410, SR 123 and Stevens Canyon road. I have even documented skiing the Inter Glacier. But to really experience Mt. Rainier National Park, you have to leave the Wonderland and explore off trail. The Grand Tour involves 150 miles of foot travel and 50,000 feet of climb and descent, the price one pays to forge higher up the cleavers and divides to view the mountain up close, to look down on seracs and glaciers, to gaze on incredible vistas far from the beaten path. One needs the experience, stamina and LNT ethics to visit these places. In this framework I will present general information without hand holding like detailed maps and .gpx files. Even if you have no desire to get off trail, here you will be able to vicariously see and experience these incredible areas. All music is realized by and produced at the Willis Wall Studios with appropriate copyrights. THESE VIDEOS CAN ONLY BE VIEWED ON THIS WEBSITE with the intent of limiting exposure of these wild and pristine places.

Each segment requires some background music, which I have made available individually after each segment.

In preparing for this project I have been contemplating how to represent this journey for orientation. I could use Google Earth, or two dimensional maps. But the thought struck me to photograph the topographic model that resides in the Longmire Ranger Station. On a trip in December, I talked the very nice and cooperative rangers there to open up so I could take a series of photos, as this building is closed to the public in the winter months. In experimenting with this orientation concept I believe I can provide a unique view of the Grand Tour with overlays on this 3 dimensional one of a kind model.

The huge model that resides in Longmire with overlays

The huge model that resides in Longmire with overlays

I gave much thought about these videos and how to present them. I wanted to avoid social media pass alongs and purposefully have limited the viewing to this site only; they are even invisible to Vimeo. The off trail areas I present in the Grand Tour are fragile and anyone visiting them should have thoroughly mastered LNT practices, especially areas like the Elysian Fields. I decided against charging like my Wonderland Trail Complete Series but am aiming for a very limited audience. If you found this site please enjoy this series, a lot of work goes into each one.

MT RUTH/STEAMBOAT PROW

The first segment produced is Mt. Ruth/Steamboat Prow, filmed in June/July 2014 and September 2015. Mt. Ruth (8690') can be accessed via cross country, paralleling the White River on the left and gaining the ridge that leads to the summit and on to Steamboat Prow (9705'). The route then descends a climbers trail to Glacier Basin, positioning one to continue on to 3rd Burroughs and the Elysian Fields segment (CCW) or Goat Island Mountain/Banshee (CW).

GOAT ISLAND MOUNTAIN/BANSHEE

Keeping to the North East side of the Park, this segment covers the wide expansive views from Goat Island Mountain (7288'), then continues on through Summerland, departing the Wonderland at Panhandle Gap (6755') and ascending the gentle meadowed slopes to Banshee Peak (7400'). These videos were captured in August 2014 and July 2015.

ELYSIAN FIELDS

The next two videos are the segment covering the Burroughs Mountains to the Elysian Fields (via the Northern Loop Trail), transiting to Moraine Park and intercepting the Wonderland below Mystic Pass. This first video supplements the segment by showing a time lapse of the off trail portion from Windy Gap to Crescent Gap, where one can access the interior encompassing the Elysian Fields, Vernal Park and Moraine Park. If exiting via Moraine Park, one is positioned to explore Curtis Ridge.