Day Hiking: Mount Rainier National Park
by Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer (The Mountaineers Books)
© Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
Wonderful hike, especially the actual ascent up to the top. Mowitch Lake and Eunice Lake are clear and deep blue. There was still snow on the trail up at Eunice Lake but it was passable. The best part of this hike is the unmaintained trail at the lookout station that goes to the true peak of Tolmie Peak. According to my daughter, "you can't say you climbed Tolmie peak unless you go to the top". So off we went. I could only go halfway before my nerves got the best of me. I waited while my daughter continue on with the fearlessness of a mountain goat. I noticed while sitting on the ridge that the accoustics are so good that I could hear the people below at the lake as they talked. You can also see Mowitch Lake from the top. As you hike the trail be sure to take a short 200 ft detour at Insput Pass just for the view, its great.
Trail was in excellent condition although there are some very "rooty" patches as you begin to ascend above Mowich Lake. Watch your step - these are potential ankle breakers on the way up and tripping opportunities on the way down.
It was cloudy and foggy at the trailhead. By the time we reached Ipsut Pass (1 mile), we had already climed above the clouds which made the view from that vantage point quite amazing.
From the Ipsut Pass junction you descend quite a bit before regaining all of that ground on your way to Tolmie's summit.
This is summer though and when the clouds clear, the bugs swarm. The mosquitoes were right out of Jurassic Park and numbered in the trillions. They were at their worst on top -- even with netting around our heads, long pants and sleeves, we could not even sit down and take a break up top. Three minutes and we were sent fleeing back down the mountain.
For a typical on-your-butt office worker like me, this was a 4 on the difficulty scale but well worth the effort. The view of majestic Rainier from this trail surpasses a spiritual experience. It is here where my ashes will be spread.
We will be back on this trail in October when all of the insects are history and we can actually spent some time on the ridges adjacent to Tolmie Peak. The fire lookout on at Tolmie is locked with no public access available; shame on the lawyer who came up with that idea.
For tent campers, I suggest setting up base camp at Mowich Lake where you can explore Tolmie one day and Spray Park the next. The hike from this campground over to Ipsut Creek campground would probably be pretty cool too!
Great hike great views had Hunter on my back,he loved it ton of people on this day saw a goat
Great hike - though steeper than I expected. Could be that since we were doing it the day after Camp Muir, our legs were just tired though. Mowich Lake is a beautiful starting point, though I'd recommend getting there as early as possible - parking sucks on a busy summer day. Eunice Lake is beautiful...but don't be scared of how high the Tolmie Peak lookout seems from there - just a few switchbacks up the mountain and you're there before you know it. And the views of Rainier, St. Helens, Baker, Glacier and Pinnnacle from up there are awesome. It was so clear, we even had nice views of the Seattle and Tacoma skylines from the lookout.
Tolmie Peak almost...Reached the Mowich trailhead around 9:30am. The parking lot was half full even though the air was nippy and the skies threatening. We bundled our dtr Lili in her trusty snowsuit and then all 6 and 1/2 of us started off toward Tolmie Peak. The trail meanders along Mowich lake with Knapsack Pass, Faye Peak, Castle Peak and others off in the distance. It travels up and down for about a mile and a quarter to the Ipsut Pass junction. We took the left fork where the trail dropped about 100 ft and then climbed steeply toward Eunice Lake in about a mile. Snow showers fell sporadically as we trudged along. Reached Eunice Lake which sits at about 5355ft. Sitting high above was the lookout about 0.9 of a mile from the lake. The blueberry bushes were in full color, a blaze of pretty oranges and reds. As we started to ascend the final switchbacks to the lookout we met a man and his son. They said they were turning around because they had seen a mother bear and her cub. We of course were very excited and everyone grabbed their binoculars. We spotted her in a meadow just below the trail a couple of hundred feet above us. Then we spotted her little fur baby poking its nose out of the trees and then another fur baby followed closely behind. All of us were delighted but, even moreso when we saw the final fur baby, yes Mama bear and three cubs feasting on the blueberries above us! All looked fat and furry for the coming winter season. Tolmie Peak would have to wait!! Wisdom told us to give Mama and her babies a wide berth! We chose a spot along the lake for lunch and watched as she and her cubs descended closer to the lake shore. Even snapped a few shots! Lili at 20 mths got to see her first bear family! We left the lake around 12 noon as the temperature was dropping! Reached the car about 1:15pm. Our party informed the ranger of our sighting. She was very excited as a mother bear with triplets is indeed a rare sight. Apparently this bear and her cubs had been seen at Mystic lake earlier this summer. Definitely a family on the move! So we went about 4 miles and 500ft but, not disappointed because of the pleasant surprise that had greeted us all! Halley/Joey and Liliana
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