An Honest Reflection on Experiencing Rainier
Iwill save you the eloquent language of describing Rainier’s sheer beauty. If that is more your speed than feel free to check out our other blog posts about this great mountain. Instead I will use this post to give you a full disclosure of my recent expedition on the mountain. My face is still peeling. I am convinced my friend’s leg now has permanent stripes. Who would’ve thought sunburns could be so prevalent while marching through the snow. If you plan on venturing up the mountain, please don’t make the same mistakes I did, use sunscreen.
About 30 minutes into the hike, I am already questioning my hiking abilities. Yes, I am a fairly avid hiker who has completed many strenuous hikes but, there is truly something different about starting 5,000 feet in the air. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself stopping for a break more often than usual.
2 steps forward, 1 step back. Isn’t it July? I thought snow was supposed to melt when it is over 50 degrees! Good thing I brought tennis shoes and not crampons. At least I had the chance to practice my ice skating abilities while moving uphill. If you are going up this mountain, regardless of the season, expect and prepare for there to be snow. Bonus points if you bring waterproof shoes to stop the mud and water from penetrating the sole of your shoe. In all honesty though, if you are like myself and overconfident in your abilities, it is definitely doable to hike up Panorama Point without proper equipment. I just wouldn’t recommend embarking on this quest unless you are willing to accept the consequences of being ill-equipped.
Did you know Rainier has snow slides? Me either, but if you are willing to get a little dirty and you are heading up the mountain in July, look for the snow shoots hikers take while moving down the mountain. If you are unprepared, like I was, these snow shoots offer a fun and easy way to climb down the mountain which is far safer than attempting to scramble down the snowpack without crampons.
Follow the leader. The snow covers a large majority off the path up the mountain. Thankfully, there are so many fellow hikers on the trail that make it easy to follow the path of those in front of you. Even better, there are many park rangers throughout the journey who are more than willing to help you find your way. I would still recommend getting a map to make sure you stay on the trail. Just be careful you stay off the flowers! The park rangers and fellow climbers will thank you.
Rainier is a beautiful mountain, but it should be respected. I would highly recommend experiencing this mountain’s beauty in person as long as you come prepared. Biggest items I would suggest are waterproof shoes, crampons and of course, sunscreen.