I took advantage of the leading edge of an incoming high pressure system to get these two hikes in. The Eagle Peak trail is the bookend to the Pinnacle Peak trail, cradling the northern part of the Tatoosh Range. Due to time constraints I was not able to do more than check out the scramble routes to Eagle and Chutla Peaks, but enjoyed crisp clear skies once I climbed above the fog layer. This is an excellent trail with steady grade; I was able to maintain pace on most of the 3,000 foot ascent to the saddle, where the “end of maintained trail” sign is. It also made for easy trotting all the way back to my vehicle, which I regained 3 hours later. Stats for this trail: 8 miles/3,000’.
I drove the relatively short distance to the trail head for Comet Falls for round two under noticeably less blue….a cloud layer had moved in and essentially stayed for the rest of my day. However, no rain was anticipated nor encountered. I had been on the Rampart Ridge trail to Van Trump Park years ago but missed some essential points, which I covered today. Comet Falls is truly impressive with an open view to the lengthy drop of this watercourse. The trail continued to the right, switch backing up until I crossed the creek above the falls. I continued on to Mildred Point, a bit of a quad buster on the last half mile. Big, steep steps. But Mildred Point sports one of the best views I’ve seen in this entire park, despite the “main attraction” being in absentia. The cloud layer precluded views above to the glacier, but the overlook down to Kauntz Creek is steep and sometimes precipitous, magnifying the view. I looked right to an airy jagged outcropping and made my way there to perch on top, albeit with cautious footing. I’ve stood atop many a peak in this park, and this pinnacle ranks as one of the airiest.
Eventually I had to leave, and trotted back to the intersection for the spur trail to Van Trump Park (.3 miles). Time was running short for me so I didn’t continue past the “end of maintained trail” very far, although the trail looks to continue for quite a distance. I have a future jaunt in mind on this continuance to Wapowety Cleaver. Van Trump Park is one of the most accessible high alpine areas on Mt. Rainier. But my time constraints mandated a departure, and in less than an hour I was back at my vehicle. Stats for this hike: 11 miles/4,100’. Total Stats: 19 miles/7,100’