Fremont Lookout in Mt. Rainier National Park

Not sure what it is with me and sunset hikes. Somehow even when the forecast is calling for clear blue skies, which equates to gorgeous sunsets, when I arrive the weather has another idea in mind! Last night was no different!

We arrived at the park and there was a noticeable chill in the air. The mountain breeze was blowing through the valley creating a light misty fog. Good thing we brought a few layers for the lookout! Needed to put on an extra layer in the parking lot! And a hat!

From the parking lot the trail immediately starts on an incline to get up to the first saddle. There is a maze of trails in MRNP so you come across several markers at trail intersections giving directions and distances to multiple trails. Even it was becoming pretty clear there would be no views at the top, the trail was reasonably busy.

At the first saddle we had a cool weather phenomena with the wind pushing the cooler air through the valley up to and over the saddle. It creates a wispy blow over, similar to a misting fan over a beer garden on a hot day. Well of course we were without the beer and the hot weather!

After the saddle the trail takes you through a talus field. There are nice sweeping views of the valleys in this area. It would be a perfect spot to see a bear grazing in the fields. You know, way down in the valley at a safe and acceptable distance! After the talus field in a small public water source. I believe it is called frozen lake. It was mostly thawed, but with a few small icebergs. On a sunny day I bet that makes a beautiful photo!

After the lake, is the steady climb to the lookout. I’m just going to imagine you can see Mt. Rainier along this part. We saw a lot of whiteout and not much more!

Made it to the lookout in about 90 minutes with another 30 or so people to see a sunset……..or not. The wind was picking up a bit at the top so we needed to put on our puffy jackets to cut the wind. Then decide what to snack on. Several funny conversations about that! We both decided we should have brought whiskey. I even thought about bringing my Jetboil for some hot chocolate at the top. We sat at the lookout to block some of the wind. Twice we saw a 5 second peak at the top of Mt. Rainier. Unfortunately by the time I could get my phone out to take a picture it was gone!

We headed back down and needed our headlamps to see most of the way. With so many intersections along the trail on the way back we had a couple spots to make sure we were taking the right trail to make it back to the parking lot.

Definitely will be going back on a clear day because Mt. Rainier is so close to that lookout. A clear sunset would be spectacular. Another day!

Nice hike. Good company and conversation. Always makes for a great day!

Happy Washington Trails Day!

August 1st was Washington Trails Day, where we encourage everyone to get outdoors and experience the magnificent trails in our State. An important message from WTA is creating a statement or short video on “I need trails because…..”. This is used to communicate with our Legislators on the importance of public lands and how trails support a healthy physical and emotional community. Please take the time to complete the “I need trails because…..” statement and post on social media and hashtag WTA. As part of the #recreateresponsibly initiative it is our responsibility to follow the tips to protect health and keep public lands open and safe during this pandemic. Those tips are:

  1. Know before you go: Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s too crowded, have a plan B.
  2. Plan ahead: Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack a lunch and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering.
  3. Stay close to home: This is not the time to travel long distances to recreate. Most places are only open for day use.
  4. Practice physical distancing: Adventure only with your immediate household. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give other space. If you are sick, stay home.
  5. Play it safe: Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations are health care resources are both strained.
  6. Leave no trace: Respect public lands and communities and take all your garbage with you.

To celebrate Washington Trails Day I headed out to Talapus and Olallie Lakes, which are part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The trail is located west of Snoqualmie Pass and is a fairly easy trail. The vast majority of the trail is within the forest so it helps keep the temperature down on sunny days. Although the forecast called for a sunny and warm day, we were met with a pretty low cloud covering and some somewhat grey skies. The trail is in great condition, but there was a decent amount of trash along the trail, which is always disappointing. Pack it in, Pack it out is such an easy principle!

The first lake you come across is Talapus, which has a couple campsites nearby but most of the camp sites are at Olallie lake. We stopped for a few minutes to see the lake. It’s a nice deeper shade of blue. It is about 2 miles to Talapus Lake, which makes it an easy hike for families. We trekked on to Olallie Lake and it was much busier! We say a steady stream of hikers and backpackers on the trail, both coming up and going down. The vast majority were wearing masks and this trail has ample opportunities to step off the trail to allow for distance while passing.

Olallie Lake has several swimming areas and we saw a number of people taking a short swim in the lake. Even though it wasn’t a super warm day but the water was surprisingly warm. We found a nice spot along the lake for some lunch and to dip our feet in the water.

I can say I laughed more on this hike than I ever have before. There was always some funny conversation or something going on that started the laughter. Actually at the end of the hike a couple passed us and said we clearly were a fun group having a great time. We will take it!

Happy Trails Everyone!

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