Mt. Rainier National Park Backpacking Trip – Day 1

This past summer, I went up to Washington with a group and did a 5 day backpacking trip in Mt. Rainier National Park. I can say without a doubt that it was the best trip BY FAR that I have ever gone on. We took a flight up to Seattle, Washington and after a week of camp, we prepared for the backpacking trip.

On July 27, 2013, a Saturday, we drove up to La Wis Wis Campground, where we were to stay overnight so we could get an earlier start on the trail the following morning. We stopped by Costco on the way to the campground, and we cooked steak over the fire for a nice dinner before we began our hike.

Eastside TrailheadThe next morning, we drove up the road to the Stevens Canyon Entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park and parked the cars in the lot by the Eastside Trailhead. (We would be switching cars with another group who were taking the same route in the opposite direction.) We began hiking around 8:40 that morning, and the weather couldn’t have been better: cool and crisp, but sunny, great for hiking. We began hiking through huge trees, with the Ohanapecosh River to our right. The trail took us over the river a few times, but hugged one of the banks of the river most of the time. We passed the beautiful Ohanapecosh Falls, and I took some pictures while we drank some water. Continuing on, we crossed Chinook Creek a couple of times on log bridges (literally, they were made of a single log with a flattened top). For lunch, we dropped our packs on the rocks at the side of the river and had a few snacks.

Ohanapecosh River

Ohanapecosh River

After this, we hiked on, soon reaching a fork in the trail. Leaving the Eastside Trail, we took the left-hand trail and began hiking on the Owyhigh Lakes Trail towards Owhigh Lakes. The trail was, for the most part, shaded by overhanging trees that kept the temperature cool. After crossing Boundary Creek, the trail took on a slight uphill until we got to Sydney Falls, where it leveled out a bit. We dropped our packs for a break overlooking the falls, exchanging small talk and jokes while getting some water. After 10 minutes or so, we shouldered our packs. Unfortunately, the trail soon began to switchback up a hill. Taking a few short breaks, we got up the switchbacks, after which the trail paralleled Kotsuck Creek for a while. At this point, we came out of the trees into beautiful meadows and expanses of flowers with vivid colors. MeadowsThe giant mountains towered around us as we hiked between them and then along them. At one point, looking down to the right from the trail, we saw the Owhigh Lakes at the bottom of a valley, and spotted what appeared to be either white wolves or mountain goats disappearing into the trees on the side of the lake. (Probably goats, but our imaginations preferred the idea of wolves.)

Owhigh Lakes

Owhigh Lakes view from the trail

Hiking into the trees in the dimming light, we finally got to the Tamanos Creek Camp, a little ways past the lakes. There were individual and group sites, a bear pole to hang food from, and a pit toilet covered by a box with a toilet seat a little ways off from the campsites. (It did have a great view, though!) For dinner, we had chicken fajitas (freeze-dried chicken, fresh onions, and tortillas) that we made on a couple of backpacking stoves. We were able to get water from a creek located just a short walk from the camp.

Tamanos Camp SignWe went approximately 13 miles and were happy to get into our sleeping bags after a long day of backpacking. The first day was amazing, and although tired, I couldn’t wait for the next day to go further and see more amazing views!

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