With the weather being so nice for the last week, I decided that Saturday would be a great day for a hike. I was initially planning on doing a solo hike up in the North Cascades–I’ve been wanting to do Cascade Pass for ages–but, of course, there was nothing but light rain and fog when I got up at 5:30am on Saturday. Not wanting to drive 6 hour round trip for a hike without company or a view, I shifted my plans and drove down to Mount Rainier National Park instead. Pro tip: If you’re as bad at directions as I am, download an offline map of your hiking area prior to leaving. I was so glad I had done so for Burroughs Mountain because I got lost, ended up in a campground 20 minutes away from the Sunrise parking lot, and had to backtrack. Luckily, I had left early enough that I ended up at the lot by 8:15am and it was still nearly empty.
Note: The upkeep of a national park like Mount Rainier requires paid entry, so plan on at least one of the following options if you’re driving a car through the park: (a) a $55 annual Mount Rainier park pass, (b) a $30 week-long park pass, or (c) an $80 America the Beautiful pass.
The trail starts out along the same path to many gorgeous Rainier hikes, including Sourdough, Fremont Lookout, Glacier Basin, parts of Wonderland and more. The first quarter mile is steep regardless of which hike you choose, and is relentless if you’ve skipped the gym as often as I have in the past few months. You can follow signage to Sourdough or Frozen Lake, but honestly all you have to do is keep climbing up. It was foggy for most of most of my initial ascent up to the ridge, but a ranger mentioned that he thought the clouds should dissipate enough for a good view within a couple of hours. I met a lot of great people on the trail (The Mountaineers were headed up to Fremont Lookout before going up to Third Burroughs)–I’ve forgotten how friendly morning hikers can be!
Continue past Frozen Lake up to First Burroughs. I didn’t get a clear view here, but I’ve seen pictures and it must be beautiful without the fog (in fact, it was pretty gorgeous even with the fog). First Burroughs is a flat reprieve from the uphill climb from the beginning of the hike, and the road up to Second Burroughs is only a little more than half a mile further, though it is quite steep. There were at least three stretches of packed snow on the way to Second Burroughs, which I made my stopping point, spending a couple of hours eating lunch and rereading The Art of Racing in the Rain. The chipmunks at Second Burroughs are much too friendly, begging for food and even going so far as to sit in other hikers’ hands. I felt something on my back, and turned around to find one of the little critters crawling up my coat.
I left around noon, and the hike went much quicker on the way down. There were a lot more groups hiking on my trek back to Sunrise, and by the time I made it back to my car, the parking lot had extended miles down the road–I’m glad I started early.
Anyway, there are far too many trails off of Sunrise to not come back before the season is over, so I’m looking forward to exploring more of Mount Rainier soon. Maybe next time, I’ll get to see a herd of mountain goats closer than the ones I saw this weekend!