Thursday, October 9th may turn out to be the last great weather day before typical Northwest conditions set in. With this forecast in mind, my buddy CB joined me for a "closeout" hike under clear skies and decidedly non-fall like temps. I had it in mind to climb up the Success Cleaver at Mount Rainier National Park (MRNP) but that would have been more of a solo trip with a late walk out. Since I had never been up Pyramid Peak (6937') before, it seemed appropriate to tag this summit for a good day hike.
We parked at the Kautz Creek trail head (2400') and started past 7 AM with just enough light. At just under 6 miles we reached Indian Henrys Hunting Ground where we basked in the beautiful weather for some chow on the cabin porch before making our way to the Mirror Lakes trail, where the maintained portion ends at 5400'. However, you wouldn't know it by the obvious and rather fine trail that continues all the way to Pyramid Peak. This day was characterized by cool breezes, vibrant fall colors, clear skies and nary a chill in the air that even hinted at fall. If this is indeed the last good weather day we may see for this season, it was a beaut. The climb to the summit is obvious with no navigation problems and once on top the summit plateau is grassy and rather flat. When I took in the 360 degree views I knew that climbing up the cleaver wouldn't have been nearly as expansive. We looked down on Paradise, across the still clouded Puget Sound, and north toward my last trip to Tokaloo Rock. I was able to scout the Success Cleaver for a future trip that would take me up to about 9,000' with a side trip across the South Tahoma Glacier to Glacier Island. We lounged on the summit for over an hour, watching a Chinook Army helicopter come straight for us and pass by, waving to the pilot in the window....nice day for a low level cruise. CB wanted to be off the trail before dark so we dragged ourselves away and started the descent, running into a lone hiker on his way up and the only other person we would see all day. When we stopped at the cabin for a quick snack it was actually hot, making us marvel that it was indeed October 9th. The hike back out was equally as nice as coming in and we made it to the trail head just past 7 PM, able to complete this later season hike without using headlamps. What a way to (possibly) close out the season of good weather! Although this peak didn't break the 7,000 foot elevation mark that I showcased in the 7Up hikes, it certainly provided some of the best 360 degree views I have experienced in the park.
Stats: 16 miles and 5000'