Great Hike: Sourdough Ridge
I had only finished my second hike and I knew that it was “The One”. At a starting point of 6,400 feet, twice the height of my favorite hike in Shenandoah, my hike took me upwards. Easy destinations can take you to 7,000 or 7,200 feet. Me? I climbed to 6,800 feet and ambled along a path called Sourdough Ridge. The word “ridge” in this case is key because at these altitudes you can see forever in many directions. I could look south to Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Hood or north to snowcapped mountains in Canada. On a day such as today, what I could see was astounding. No doubt, my One Great Hike for Rainier is this hike in the Sunrise Area of the park.
Some short hikes I took include around Tipsoo Lake where I captured reflections of Rainier in still alpine waters. Though I had hiked the Silver Falls Trail the evening before, I returned to Silver Falls itself to capture its torrent and accompanying rainbow in the daylight. The Grove of Patriarchs was another excursion and it brought me in touch with giant old-growth trees and yet another suspension bridge! Love those bridges!
As the sun moved to the western face of Mount Rainier, so did I. All along the road were car pullouts. These areas provided easy access to additional wonderful sites. Waterfalls, rivers, rock slides, and distant views were all reasons to pull off the road and take a gander. When you’re at these elevations in such a green and mountainous region on a sunny day, well, it behooves you to make the effort.
The next place where I hiked was the Skyline Loop in the Paradise Area, the most visited region of the park. It’s easiest to access, is at the highest elevation, and offers an abundance of things to do. Walking through the alpine meadows was like strolling through fire (for the colors, not the heat!). While the climbing was steep and challenging at the 10,000+ foot elevation, it was rewarding. Vistas are amazing and you can hike all the way up to glaciers. Also here is a NPS Visitors Center and the famous Paradise Lodge. From the few miles of hiking I did I sensed that if I’d have had more time then I might have found my Great Hike here in Paradise!
One of the big rewards of this visit was all the stunning perspectives I saw of Mount Rainier. It was good to have camped in the park’s Ohanapecosh Campground because it allowed me to start the day early. From morning sun on its east to evening sun on its west, I saw all it’s faces unobstructed by clouds. It was a memorable day.by