Friday, July 1, 2016

Best Overnight Hike

Mount Rainier from the lower crossing trail of the Carbon River
Mount Rainier has some of the most beautiful scenery, and I found a great way to enjoy it.

On June 28, my hiking buddy, Deb, and I drove to the Carbon River entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. We stopped at the Ranger Station that is just two miles from the entrance and got a free wilderness camping permit, since we would be camping within the park boundary.

We walked the now closed road to Ipsut Creek campground. It is a lovely walk through old growth forest, complete with mammoth old-growth trees, hanging moss, creeks and chirping birds. 

Hiking the Carbon River road/trail to Ipsut Creek through old-growth florest
Hanging moss in the Carbon River rainforest

It took us about an hour and a half to get to the campground, where we almost had the place to ourselves. We chose a site near the river and quickly had our tents up. It was perfect because each site had a picnic table.

Ipsut Creek campground

We packed a lunch and headed up the Wonderland Trail. We stopped to view Ipsut Falls, which is just 200 feet off the trail. It is beautiful as it cascades down the steep rocks. 

Ipsut Creek falls

We then continued up the trail. Within forty minutes we were to the lower crossing of the Carbon river. I was pleased to see that the Park Service ranger had installed new log bridges so that we could cross the river. 

Deb crosses the first of two new log bridges over the Carbon River at the lower crossing.

The second bridge at the lower crossing. The handrail was a welcome addition as the water was raging below.

As I crossed the log, I found it important to look ahead, not down at the rushing water below, since it would be easy to become dizzy. We did not want anything like that to happen!

The view of the mountain from the middle of the river crossing was amazing!

Mount Rainier seemed so close!

On the other side, we headed upriver and soon arrived at the suspension bridge over the river. What fun to walk on the bridge and view the mountain. 

Suspension bridge over the Carbon River. It was bouncy!

We met Jack, the one of the National Park Rangers, and he talked to us about the suspension bridge and how it was designed. Basically, there was NO design! Ha! The guy who built it was an engineer, and somehow knew how big of cables to use and how to rig them. The bridge components were brought in by helicopter and assembled on site.

From there, we continued up the trail to take in a view of the Carbon Glacier. We perched alongside the trail on large boulders and watched as rocks cascaded down the face of the ice.

The snout of the Carbon glacier. Rocks continually tumble down the face of the ice.

We returned to camp for dinner and watch the river as the sun set behind the mountain.

In the morning, we packed up camp and headed back down the road. On the way, we took a side trip to see Chenuis falls. On the way across the river, we could see Mount Rainier. The falls reminded me of the water-slide falls that I saw last year in the Sierras.

Mount Rainier peeks above the ridge from the crossing to Chenuis falls.

Chenuis falls. The water the crystal clear.

We continued on down the road/trail, and then hid our packs in the woods and hiked up the trail to Green lake. On the way up we stopped to view Ranger Falls.

Viewpoint for Ranger Falls

It was a steep climb up, and I could feel the burn in my leg muscles by the time I reached the lake. I think Deb had her fill of climbing. She said, "I'm not a hill person!"

Green Lake was beautiful in the morning light. There were fish jumping in the middle of the lake.

Log bridge over the outlet stream from Green Lake

Green Lake was peaceful in the morning light. Fish jumped in the middle of the lake.

We headed back down and stopped next at the Old Mine. It was just a quarter mile off the road. Unfortunately, there was another climb up to the mine, so Deb let me do the hiking. The mine is carved into the face of a cliff. There was a small stream running out of it and there were old railroad tracks leading into the blackness. The mine is cordoned off about ten feet in.

Old Mine, only a quarter mile off the road. A stream flowed out of the darkness

View from inside the old mine

Sign at the start of the trail to the old mine. I wonder what they were mining?

We made it back to the trailhead before noon. 

I highly recommend this overnight trip. But, be sure to do it when the weather is good. I can't imagine going and not being able to see Mount Rainier in all her glory.

Here is a map showing trails in the area.

I think this was one of the best overnight hikes I have ever taken. There is minimal elevation gain going into camp, and the trail up to the Carbon Glacier has a very moderate elevation gain, so it is easy to hike.

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