Having worked to get ready for the hikes in Italy, we want to keep the hiking skills going here in the Pacific Northwest. Our first day where neither of us had anything we had to do was July 4, which was a beautiful day. I knew the parking lots at many trailheads would be full quite early, so I thought of Mount Rainier, which has large parking lots at its main visitor centers. As we discovered when we spent July 4 at the Paradise Lodge some years ago, many of the trails are also still under snow. So we headed for the historic village of Longmire, which in the past we have tended to drive through quickly on the way to the higher and more spectacular Paradise. The Rampart Ridge hike is rated as Moderate difficulty, about 5 miles or so round trip, with 1300 foot elevation gain, and some lovely views from the top of the ridge. It was indeed a breeze compared with the 20 km hike when I had blisters and faithful old boots that were choosing that time to lose their treads. My feet loved the new Merrell boots and socks with liners. I wrote a trip report for the Washington Trails Association web site, which includes a few pictures.
On clear days, we can see the very top of Mount Rainier from our house (the rest of it is hidden by the nearer Squak Mountain), constantly inticing me to go visit it. Being two and a half hours from a major national park is one of the privileges of living in this area, and I try to take advantage of that at least once a year. (more…)