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.
Great day hike through beautiful Rainier country.
We stepped off on a wet morning and made Lake Christine in about 15 minutes. After a quick rest and some photos we hurried up Mount Beljica (about 40 minutes) and got a few pictures before the the clouds blew in. The
The walk was steep in places but short. When heading from the lake to Beljica you will come on a trail sign at a fork in the trail, stay left and you will be on yop soon. Overall good hike, even this late. The lake was froze over and beautiful. Very nice, easy hike.
I had made two other attempts to hike this trail over the past month. Each time I was met with cold bitter winds and sleeting snow. Today the skys presented a window of opportunity. As I made my way up the access road to the trail head I became aware of need for a vehicle with adequate ground clearance. I did drag a couple of times before I reached the trail head. Once there I stretched and headed out. As the trail guide indicates the first bit of this trail is very agressive. I made my way up and sure enough if becomes a more gradual climb realtively quickly. I followed the trail to Lake Christine. Note that a couple of hundred yards before you reach the lake you will encounter a fresh blow-down that does cover the trail. However, it is realitively easy to climb over. As I approached the lake I encountered snow. In depths ranging from about 2 to 8 inches. The lake itself is 90% covered with ice. The trail is at times difficult to find (there are many human and animal tracks around the lake, but they lead in multiple directions) and which required me to refer to my map of the area. Since it was morning, the snow was crunchy and in many places frozen and slick. On the north end of the lake the trail begins to climb up and through a saddle. I encountered snow all the way up and over the saddle. Shortly after the saddle the snow disappears and the trail is clear. You are enveloped in heavy tree cover and the ground is covered with fresh boughs from the recent winds in the area. The trail intersects with the Puyallup trail and you take the right trail to continue on to Goat Lake. From the trail junction I proceed about another 1.4 miles until I came upon Goat Lake. The sun was shining over the trees. Unlike Lake Christine there was only a trace of ice. The area was extemely quiet. From there I began my trek out. Overall, it was a pleasant hike, however, the snow and ice presented some challenges. I found the trail moderate in difficulty.
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