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!