Category: United States

Backpacking Olympic National Park’s Seven Lakes Basin Loop

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Day 1: Sol duc Falls Trailhead to Deer Lake, 4 miles

By the time we get our backpacks reloaded for this trip, it’s already 4:30 pm before we lock the car at the trailhead and start making our way towards Sol duc Falls, one of Olympic’s prettiest waterfalls. I hiked this trail up to the waterfall two years ago with my mother, but Matt hasn’t done it since we were last here together in 2004 or so. Right away, he is blown away by how beautiful the forest trail is. Ferns, mosses, and evergreens blend together to create a kaleidoscope of green that is utterly enchanting. Matt says it’s even greener than the Hoh, and he stops to take pictures every 10 feet of all the pretty little scenes we find. (more…)

Exploring Olympic National Park

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For our last backpacking trip of the summer, we head west to Washington’s enchanting Olympic peninsula to spend a few days exploring the rain forests, beaches and high alpine scenery of Olympic National Park. We’re probably crazy for wanting to do any more hiking after all the miles we’ve put in already this summer, but this time we really have no choice in the matter. (more…)

Day 6: Northside Figure 8, Mt. Rainier

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Mystic Lake to Sunrise Trailhead, ~10 miles

We are hiking out to our car today. It is a Saturday, and we have 10+ miles to go until we get back to Sunrise. Then we need to find a place to stay on a busy, summer weekend night. Given all that, we decide to get up at 5 and hit the trail as early as possible. We are very efficient in breaking camp, and, as we are brushing our teeth, we even get the bonus of seeing a doe with her small fawn walk right across our front porch meadow (the exact spot where we saw Mama Bear with her two cubs in 2014!)—sometimes it really pays to get up early! (more…)

Day 5: Northside Figure 8, Mount Rainier

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Eagles Roost>Spray Park>Mystic Lake, ~11 miles

We have a longish day with the promise of non-stop beautiful scenery, and we want to make sure we have plenty of time to enjoy it all without feeling rushed, so it’s a super early start for us today. We wake up at 5 and are on the trail by 6:30. Even though we are eager to get to Spray Park, we make a quick detour to see Spray Falls, one of Rainier’s most impressive (and aptly-named) waterfalls. Just a quick photo and we are off! (more…)

Day 4: Northside Figure 8, Mount Rainier

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Ipsut Creek to Eagles Roost, 7.4 miles

We break camp pretty efficiently this morning, even though we are moving at a leisurely pace, and we are on the trail by 8:30. Right out of the gate, we have a huge uphill climb with 3200 feet of elevation gain over just 3.5 miles. We didn’t encounter gradients that steep on the JMT, so we are really hoping that being about 5000 feet lower in elevation will work to our benefit here. (more…)

Day 3: Northside Figure 8, Mount Rainier

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James Creek to Ipsut Creek Walk-in Campground, ~10 miles

It is chilly overnight, and we have a hard time convincing ourselves to leave the warmth of our sleeping bags in the morning. By the time we finally crawl out of the tent, it is nearly 7 am, and we enjoy a leisurely morning around camp, drinking our coffee and tea and eating our breakfast all from the comfort of our camp chairs. We are not sure if it rained more overnight or not, but the tent is still really wet. Nobody likes packing up a wet tent, especially Matt. He straps the fly to the outside of the pack just before we head off. On a brighter note, there are blue skies and the hope of much better weather to send us on our way. (more…)

Day 2: Northside Figure 8, Mount Rainier

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Berkeley Camp to James Camp, 9.0 miles

We both sleep heavy, and I totally forget where I am or why the alarm is going off when it rudely attempts to wake me up. Matt must be feeling the same way because he tags the snooze button on his phone several times before we finally decide it’s for the best to get moving. Our neighbors are up already and busy packing by the time we finally emerge from the tent. (more…)

Day 1: Northside Figure 8, Mount Rainier

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Sunrise Trailhead to Berkeley Park, 3.6 miles

We are starting the Northside Figure 8 from the Sunrise Visitor Center today in the northeastern corner of Mount Rainier, but we wake up far away in our front-country campsite at Cougar Rock just before dawn. We are in the southern portion of the park and are eager to photograph the views at Reflection Lakes during Golden Hour and then do a little bit of hiking at Paradise before heading north.  (more…)

Backpacking Mount Rainier’s Northside Figure 8

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If you have been following this blog for a while, you know it’s no big secret that we are huge fans of Mount Rainier National Park. This gem of the Pacific Northwest captured our hearts back in 2014 when we backpacked the 93-mile Wonderland Trail around the entire mountain. We loved our experience in Mount Rainier so much we even wrote a book about it! So, when we drove out to California to hike the John Muir Trail last summer, we couldn’t leave the West coast without making our way up to Washington state to get a little fix of “The Mountain.” (more…)

JMT, Day 24: The Finish Line!

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Half Dome Trail Junction to Half Dome to Happy Isles

We wake up at 4:30 am, hoping to hit the trail before sunrise. It’s dark at first, but, by the time we make it out of the tent and finish a quick breakfast, we hardly need our headlamps to see anymore. Just before taking off, a small coyote wanders right through our camp. We watch it in silence as it trots behind our tent, and it’s amazing how little sound it makes. If we were still inside our tents, we would have never even know it was there. (more…)