Kevin Shum — Mount Rainier
13 Oct 2019

After sleeping in, I convinced myself to go on a hiking adventure. I considered committing to an all-day trip to Rainier or a closer drive around Snoqualmie. The weather was decent so I thought I’d make a bet on heading into the mountains before winter (and the snow) hits. After some research online, I chose the Skyline Trail for the picturesque views. I refueled my car at Costco, picked up some cash and a lunch, and was on my way.

I’ve never done a road trip on my own, but I turned up a playlist and starting singing like I was in the shower. Two and a half hours later, I was driving through the foothills of Rainier, driving under the canopies of the evergreens.

At the gate, I picked up an America the Beautiful pass valid at all US National Parks for a year.

I parked in Paradise, and checked into the visitor center. It was around 3:30pm already. One of the rangers warned that the trails were icy and that I’d better do a lower elevation hike given that I didn’t bring along poles or technical equiptment. I thought I’d give it a shot and turn back once I saw ice.

There were more people than I expected, but the people quickly dispersed as I entered into the thick fog. I hoped the weather would clear up as I continued heading deeper into the trail. The air smelled sweet and musky, but the winds got stronger and brisker as I approached higher elevations. It was peaceful and quiet, excatly what I wanted out of this hike.

The fog did not quite disperse, but there were some transiet pockets of sunshine and blue skies along the way. I was glad to have brough gloves.

Soon enough, I spotted ice on the outskirts of the paths, but the trails were dry enough to continue on with just my running shoes.

The terrain changed from mountainous and foresty to rocky and bushy. With the thick fog, the landscape seemed to come from a movie set or extraterrestrial planets. Even though I couldn’t see much beyond a few meters in front of me, it still felt like an adventure, kind of like slowly scratching away the strip on a card to reveal more numbers or secrets. It was quite empty near the top, only encountering hikers here and there. The mood was almost eerie but captivating.

At Panorama Point, there wasn’t much of a view, so I rested briefly for a snack and continued my journey onwards. I wanted to get back down before sunset so I continued at a fast pace back down the hill. The hike was estimated at around 4 hours, but I completed it in 2.5. My legs were sore for a few days after though.

Before I departed back to Seattle, I made a stop at Reflection Lakes, but there still wasn’t a view of Rainier, hidden in the thicks of the fog. But, along the way, there was a stunning view of the valley and some hints of the sun setting behind some of the hills.

I’ll definitely make a trip back in the spring, hopefully with views of the peak next time. Fog or not, this was a solo hike to remember.