Hiking at Sunrise (Mt. Rainier)

Hiking at Sunrise (Mt. Rainier)

After a story night, which I spent in a motel instead of camping, I got up early and drove the hour to the Sunrise parking lot. I had a sneaky suspicion that at least one person didn’t get my message about canceling the official Mountaineers hike that I was going to lead (before the storm hit). Yep, I was right….Barbara was there in the parking lot waiting for me.

Since the weather was clearing (it changes so fast at Mt. Rainier), we both decided to go ahead with our hike to the Mt. Fremont Lookout. The area was still socked in with clouds/fog, but we had hopes of seeing some views. So, off we went.

After hiking the first quarter mile or so, I was finding it hard to breath. I didn’t know why I was so winded…the elevation gain wasn’t that significant. Then, I started to really sweat and feel poorly. I ditched my hat and asked Barbara to attach it to my pack (so I didn’t have to take it off). She had just started fiddling with it when I bent over and projectile vomited for several minutes! What the hell was up with that? I immediately felt better and felt like I could continue. I have no idea why I was sick, but reflecting back on it, I may have had some altitude sickness. After all, we were over a mile up in altitude.

I found that Barbara was well matched with me and my slow pace. Plus, we both loved to stop and take photos.

Wildflowers were starting to bloom. Several varieties at the lower elevation were already going to seed, while higher up, they were just starting to pop out of the ground.

We stopped to take in the view at several spots, but we couldn’t see very much due to low clouds/fog.

As we hiked along the Cranberry Creek trail along Sourdough Ridge, we stopped near a wall of rocks when a pica stuck out its head and ran back into the rocks. We were hoping it would come back out….it did, but not where we were looking. Within seconds, it had run through the tunnel of rocks and was on one near my head. The little cutie stayed there, seeming to pose for us. We were happy to take its picture. It disappeared when more hikers approached the area, so we pressed on.

We stopped to eat an early lunch beside Frozen Lake. When we were done and moved to the other end of the lake, we hear another hiker hollering, “Go, bear. Go bear!” He was moving to a snow covered area yelling with determination. His companion, who stayed put near the lake, told us that a black bear was on the trail and didn’t seem to want to move on. While getting a photo of a bear would have been cool, I wasn’t about to chase after it!

We rounded Frozen Lake, then, and started up the ascent to the Mt. Fremont Lookout. We hadn’t gotten very far when I pointed out that it looked socked in at the top. I was getting tired, plus I don’t really like climbing in elevation (I’m getting better at it, but still need to build more stamina), so I suggested that we turn back around since we wouldn’t see the gorgeous views because of the cloudy sky.

On the way back, a chipmunk climbed on a tree and was sounding the alarm. Every time it called out, it’s tail was stick up in the air. We also encountered several ground squirrels, which look like chipmunks, but are slightly bigger and don’t have the white streaks on its face. I think they were trying to see if we would give them food. I’m sure many uninformed hikers do feed the animals as they hike, but it’s not good for them….they become dependent, then can’t survive when the weather changes and people aren’t around to feed them. The outdoor community has a saying, “A fed animal is a dead animal.”

When we made it back to sunrise, they were cleaning the restrooms, so we killed some time in the visitor center. Walking around to the side of it, we saw that Mt. Rainier was finally showing it’s top and the clouds were moving out.

We probably could have had a view if we had gone to the Mt. Fremont Lookout, but by noon, the trails were getting crowded…just too many people for me to really enjoy it. The parking lot was also packed and a ranger was holding up a long line of cars waiting for parking (I was glad we started at 7:30am).

On the way home, I stopped in Greenwater and had a burger at the tavern.

I was tired by the time I got home, but it was a good tired…I had had a fantastic day!

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