Hike-a-thon, Hiking, Mount Rainier, Solo

HaT #3-5: White River Vacation

Three weeks into Hike-a-Thon, my stats are as follows: 78 miles hiked, 20,200 feet of elevation gained, a whole bunch of trip reports not yet written, and $290 raised for trails. Thank you so much for your donations!!

(I was even getting close to my t-shirt fitting comfortably, but after spending a week on the couch eating ALL THE THINGS in order to settle a queasy belly, I fear I’m back to square one in that department.)

Hike-a-Thon 03

My favorite part of the month (so far) was my last-minute vacation at White River Campground in Mount Rainier National Park. JK and I started the trip by hiking to Skyscraper Mountain.

Skyscraper bound

I think pretty much every trail that starts at Sunrise is a winner, but Skyscraper is a favorite of ours since you get to hike through the gorgeous meadows in Berkeley Park and up a peak with volcano views in every direction.

Yay, flwrz!

Unfortunately, it was way too hot for the lardy marmots to be out, but we did see two bears (from afar, very afar).

My Ferdinand

This marmot was overheating too, so we figured a dip in Shadow Lake would be nice…until we saw the no swimming signs. Boo!


– Skyscraper Mountain & Shadow Lake | 9.5 miles | 1400 feet elevation gain –

After Skyscraper, JK dropped me off at White River and drove off to get back to work/real life/the nutrias while I got to spend the next two days reading Jitterbug Perfume (excellent) and hiking (beyond excellent).

My home for two lovely nights

I was planning to hike to Summerland the next day, but when I woke up to cloudy skies and a couple of raindrops on my tent, I took it as a sign that I should sleep in and keep reading. It cleared up by early afternoon, so I went out for an easy stroll to Glacier Basin. The trailhead was next to my tent!

Glacier Basin

I didn’t have high expectations of Glacier Basin, so I was pleasantly surprised to find an inviting, green meadow and a cute frog pond which provided an excellent view and a place to enjoy a piece of Sin Dawg.

I kept an eye out for the famous Glacier Basin bear, but all I saw was a steady stream of climbers coming down from the Emmons route – some of them looking very motivated by the relative proximity of beer and fried foods, most looking like exhausted zombies.

Woodstock Festival

– Glacier Basin | 6 miles | 1600 feet elevation gain –

After much reading and another night’s snooze (dreaming about beets), I headed out for the main part of my trip – Summerland!

Good morning Tahoma Little Tahoma looks strange from this angle

Since I was on foot, I had to hike on the Wonderland Trail just to get to the trailhead…which turned out to be an extra five miles round trip of not very interesting forest. But hey, more miles for Hike-a-Thon, yes?


At least the miles were easy and went by quickly, so it didn’t take too long before I could sit down on a rock at Summerland and just take it all in – Little Tahoma from a unique angle, a lenticular cloud cap on Mount Rainier, and a meadow that was absolutely LOUSY with marmots.

Marmot Master

Oh, the marmots!! I was in heaven.

Surprisingly athletic for "butter on legs" Asshole Marmot chases Innocent Marmot

They would eat, chase each other (those chubby little buggers are fast!), eat, fight, eat some more, and then collapse like marmot-skin rugs on the snow. Next time I come to Summerland, I hope it’s on a backpacking trip. I would love nothing more than to spend all day watching my husky spirit animals.

Hot marmot

Unfortunately I had to get back to White River Campground in time for JK to pick me up, so I bid the marmots adieu and reluctantly hiked away from the views.

Miss Manners

The highlight of my hike back to camp was running into Gabi, hiking friend and contributor to Hike-a-Thon – thank you Gabi!! She and her beau were a couple of days into the Wonderland Trail, and looking way too fresh for people who have hiked for days without a shower. She wrote a great report of their adventure on her blog.

Avalanche Lilies Gabi in Wonderland

The second highlight was soaking my feet in an ice cold pool by White River when I came back to camp. That last extra bit of trail seemed to take forever, and my dogs were barking after five hikes in six days. Huge thank yous and snorgles to JK for facilitating the perfect first week of Hike-a-Thon!

– Summerland (from White River CG) | 14 miles | 2600 feet elevation gain* –

(*I didn’t bring a GPS, so these stats are from the Wonderland Trail guidebook. The gain sounds high to me…but in my experience, much of the Wonderland Trail is so well graded that elevation gain feels easier than it usually does.)

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1 Comment

  • Reply Laura August 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I am loving the marmot sprawled out flat on the snow. Awesome!

    Looks like a great time in a beautiful place.

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