Nick and I rarely get a night alone, let alone a whole weekend. So, we decided to leave the kids with the Grandparents and go for a long weekend and do some hiking in the Mt Rainier National Forest and camp in the Crystal Mountain Ski Area parking lot. Not super glamorous but the view can't be beat!
Our accommodations in the B lot are primitive for trailers. There are 40 electrical hookups for trailers and RVs. In the month of August, there are about 10 spots taken, so you can be sure that there will be a spot (now in the winter, you have to get there on Thursday for the weekend crowd. It fills up fast!).
Also, it is first come, first served. I believe the cost was $37/ night.
One thing that was cool was that in the lot was the old chair lift that collapsed last winter. Kinda creepy, but since Crystal is our home ski area, very cool to see.
On day one, we decided to hike UP crystal mountain towards Henskin Lake and to the summit house. It was a pretty climb, but also very rigorous in the last mile. Part of the trail was closed due to rock blasting so we had to take a detour that gave us switchbacks up a service road to the summit.
And we were sopped in with fog when we got to the top.
At least the ride down the Gondola is FREE! That is right! You only pay for the ride up.
So, if you have the strength, I recommend the climb. Just bring the bug spray. Those mosquito's were relentless!
Day two, we went to the Sunrise Visitor Center in the Mount Rainier National Forest and decided to do a little trek towards the glorious mountain. I am planning on climbing Mt Rainier next summer and Nick had never been to Mt Rainier, so it was a good excuse to show him what I have been dreaming about for years.
Here is the Mountain from the Sunrise Parking lot....beckoning me to climb that sucker!
Once we got to Frozen Lake, there was a park ranger sitting there, looking up at Mt Rainier. We decided to ask him what our best course would be to get close to the Mountain but we were starting to get concerned about the clouds coming in. He said since we made it this far and we seemed in good shape, we need to get to the Second Burroughs to have the best view. He then asked why I had the backpack on and Nick only had a camelback. I had to explain to him that I was trying to train for my climb in a year and I had 15 lbs in my pack, just to see where my baseline was at. He smiled and said "Good. Because I was about to tell this gentleman to carry your bag!"
That is when I realized that we probably had a lot of side eye looks coming up the trail!
The hike up to the first and second Burroughs was steep. You go up to almost 8,000 foot elevation which if you aren't used to, does do a number on your lungs. I realized that I am grateful that we will be spending more time up at higher elevation during my Rainier climb to acclimate.
The views from the ridge were spectacular!
Once we got up to Second Burroughs, the view did not disappoint at 7,828 feet. It felt like I could touch the mountain! We sat for a little while, eating a snack, watching the squirrels try and eat our food (and hitch a ride in our pack) and caught our breath. Then the clouds rolled in. We watched them swirl around the mountain then down into the valley. Our perfect view turned into a the peekaboo game. We wanted to get a pic with the mountain in the background, but every time we tried, the clouds swirled again. I love the pic we did get. It just means that we have to come back and get another one.
We took a different route back, saw some Marmots and a Mountain goat. We didn't get many pics on the way back because we were cruising!
Here is the trail map of Sunrise, the red was our hike that we took.
Our route was a total of 6.43 miles and a 2,077 ft elevation climb.
Then we came back and hit up the Snorting Elk for a well deserved beer!