The following morning, after another stop at the Mountain Goat for coffee and glutenous hiking essentials for JK and Nora, we drove up to Paradise to see how the autumn colors were doing. We weren’t disappointed!
This was our first autumn trip to Paradise since 2014, when we introduced Nora to Mount Rainier for the first time. Can you even believe the tininess?
Our main goal for this hike was for Nora to see marmots up close. She has inherited my prodigious collection of plush marmots, and has been obsessed with them ever since I showed her a couple of youtube videos of marmots whistling. Luckily for me (since I had promised her marmot sightings), the fat little lovelies started popping up just past Alta Vista and kept us company almost the entire way.
They were especially abundant close to Panorama Point, which gave me a chance to take some much-needed breathers while Nora gushed over her new furry friends.
Remember how I talked about my tendency to underestimate trails during pregnancy? Well, I totally did it again. I somehow remembered this loop as being “pretty much flat”, which is…not true. When we reached Pan Point and I realized we would have to keep going upwards on the alternate High Skyline Trail due to a lingering snowfield, our collective morale plummeted. Nora needed a nap and was cranky, I was starting to feel overheated and was cranky, and poor JK was left to deal with two simultaneously cranktastic women. (Just you wait until we have two teenage girls in the house!)
Luckily JK is a wise man and decided it was time to feed us. A bar (Nora loves Lara Bars – most of them are just dates + nuts) while walking, followed by a watermelon picnic was just what we needed for a little reboot.
…and then we hit a shortcut that let us shave a little distance off our loop. I gladly accepted the lazy way out, even though it meant we would miss out on my favorite marmot area – that should tell you how tired I was. Oh, pregnancy.
Another fun pregnancy fact: downhill is more uncomfortable than uphill, at least in the third trimester. But with views like these, the trick is to just stop frequently to rest and soak it all in.
By the time we made it back to the paved trails of Paradise, the afternoon light set the autumn colors on fire. It was so beautiful, the perfect symbolic ending to a very short but sweet alpine hiking season for me this year.
It made quite the impression on Nora too – she’s still talking about this hike in her cute, manic toddler sentence kind of way. “Mount Rainier hike mamma pappa Nora in the carrier eat crackers and watermelon Nora found rocks NORA LOST ROCKS marmot MARMOT CRYING eeeew marmot pooooop!”