Mount Rainier National Park

TLDR: Hiked with my parents, had questionable weather, mom attacked by a dog, made the weekend fun anyway.

This weekend, my dad and I decided to meet up in Ashford and do a few hikes near Mount Rainier National Park. We ended up convincing my mom to join too, and we rented a very cute Airbnb about ten minutes away from the Paradise side entrance. The plan was to hike High Rock and either Comet Falls or Pinnacle Saddle on Saturday, then drive through Mount Rainier National Park on Sunday and stop at various viewpoints on the way to and from Paradise Inn. Of course, things don’t always (ever?) go the way you plan.

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Skyline Divide

After much too long a stretch of busy, non-hiking weekends, I was finally able to get outside. My dad and I drove about three hours north from Kent to the (tiny!) town of Glacier, WA where we had rented an Airbnb for the weekend. It was the perfect place to stay as a base camp for Skyline Divide, as we only had to drive about 1000 feet to the start of NF-37, the gravel road leading up to the trailhead. I had been anxious that the drive up would be icy or covered in snow, as the USDA Forest Service had reclassified the road conditions as “NOT CLEARED” on 10/12. However, in terms of ice and snow conditions, the road wasn’t bad, with only the last few miles seeing any snow–and it helped that we were driving a car with FWD. I would recommend taking the drive slow, though, as there were some potholes and fallen tree branches scattered along the road (it took us about an hour from the start of NF-37 to the parking lot).  At the trailhead, there’s room for quite a few cars, as well as a picnic bench and a restroom (Note: the restroom was running low on toilet paper when we arrived, so I recommend bringing your own–just in case!).

We started off on the trail at 8:45 AM, and I was surprised at how quickly we warmed up–I began taking off the warmer outer layers Continue reading

The Ten Essentials

I’ve heard some people say that hiking is a universal hobby, a way to have fun with other people that only requires time and physical ability, rather than money. What I’ve found to be more accurate is that while this is technically true, the reality for me is that the more I hike, the more equipment I convince myself is necessary to do so. This is in addition to the Ten Essentials, which can be purchased on a budget but should not be skimped on either.

You can find variations of this list all over the internet, but I will share REI’s here because it’s my favorite version:

  1. Navigation (map and compass)
    • GPS technology has become much more widely available for the consumer to purchase, but I would argue that being able to accurately read a map is one of the most important skills a hiker can have. Whether you are only interested in day hikes or you are planning a week-long backpacking trip, being prepared for an emergency requires you to know how to navigate the area you’re exploring. Compasses can be generally found for anywhere between $10 and $100, so there’s no excuse to not have one to bring on your hiking, backpacking or camping trips.
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
    • Layers, layers, layers! I highly recommend wearing multiple, thinner layers rather than bulky coats–this allows you to remove articles of clothing in increments when you get warm. Additionally, it allows you to have dry clothes under an outer, waterproof/resistant shell when it’s raining, as it so often does here in the PNW.
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
    • Flashlights will do the job if they are all you have, but headlamps are much more convenient when you’re hiking in the dark. Having your hands free is a huge advantage, and headlamps also give you a wider view with better peripheral vision.
  5. First-aid supplies
    • The basics: bandages (various sizes), instant ice pack, antibacterial wipes/ointment, elastic bandage wrap, gauze, medical tape, mini scissors, tweezers, Benedryl (or another diphenhydramine), disposable gloves, Aspirin, etc.
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
    • I always bring enough food for at least one extra day, just in case something goes south and I need to wait for emergency assistance.
  9. Hydration (extra water)
    • Water weighs 1kg per liter, or about 2.2 pounds, making it one of the heavier items you’ll carry with you on any given hike. However, one of the great things about consumables is that their weight decreases as you use them. I would recommend getting a hydration bladder or a collapsible water bottle to keep it as light as possible, but I know some people prefer solid water bottles instead–so, do what works best for you!
  10. Emergency shelter

 

In the future, I’d like to share my thoughts on the equipment I use, and I am always looking for suggestions! Happy hiking!