Summerland

These posts will cover all the areas I'm visiting in the confines of Mt. Rainier National Park in celebration of 35 years exploring here, including new places with a smattering of old.

On the second day of our weathered out climbing weekend, 4 of us decided to visit Summerland. The day brought temps in the 40's with intermittent snow showers and misty rain. Varying depths of snow were met on the trail out of Fryingpan Creek trailhead, but once we arrived at the bridge across Fryingpan Creek, snow was continuous. We attempted to follow the summer route up the snow covered switchbacks, but steep slopes with poor run outs and no ice axes had us deciding to return via the winter route, bypassing this section by end running and paralleling the Creek until intercepting the bridge and usual trail. With low cloud ceilings none of us was compelled to visit Panhandle Gap with no visibility, but on the way back there were very occasional sun breaks, lighting up the snow covered terrain and casting shadows, a real treat. Most of my hikes are solo so spending a weekend with an eclectic group of souls with ages ranging from 27 to 70 was a real treat indeed. Maybe next time we can finally get up Little Tahoma. Today's hike involved 9 miles and 2300 feet of elevation.

  Our return route avoided the steep wooded section via the winter route (6/10/18

Our return route avoided the steep wooded section via the winter route (6/10/18

  View from the Summerland Shelter toward Panhandle Gap (6/10/18)

View from the Summerland Shelter toward Panhandle Gap (6/10/18)

Crystal Peak/Crystal Lakes

These posts will cover all the areas I'm visiting in the confines of Mt. Rainier National Park in celebration of 35 years exploring here, including new places with a smattering of old.

What to do when plans for a climb months in advance (Little Tahoma) meets with a short stretch of the worst weather in June over those exact days? Well, a group of us simply hung about a cabin in Crystal Village and did a few day hikes. On June 9th we set out for Crystal Peak in questionable weather in hopes that the south facing slopes would be mostly snow free, even to 6,000 feet. We totally lucked out in that the rain was intermittent, the snow showers sporadic, and the route was mostly snow free, with only a small patch to cross that didn't require ice axes. Although views were limited due to the snow and rain producing clouds, a lunch break atop the peak was enjoyed by all. Shortly after starting the descent, the snow showers were producing large flakes that were carried up the hillside directly at us, like watching snowfall lying on one's back, very cool indeed. Once we reached the trail to Crystal Lakes we decided to visit those also as we were already here, with a 1500 foot climb to the lower and upper lakes. Snow showers and temps in the 40's did not quell anyone's appreciation for being here, taking in the monochromatic landscape and partially snow covered lakes, amidst show flurries; enjoyment in being outside comes in all flavors. Stats for the day, 11 miles and 4600' elevation gain/loss.

  Snow gathers on the south side of the trees: trail to Crystal Peak

Snow gathers on the south side of the trees: trail to Crystal Peak

  Upper Crystal Lake (5800')

Upper Crystal Lake (5800')