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Fall Weekend in Mt. Ranier

After moving to the PNW the summer of 2023, I was so excited about all the opportunities for weekend trips within a few hour drive of me! In the fall this year, a friend and I headed out for a quick weekend road trip to Mt. Rainier and it couldn't have been more magical.

I had been to Mt. Rainier before, but only spent around 3 hours there and the mountain was covered by clouds almost the whole time. To make matters worse, the transmission in my car ran out. I thought it was bad luck, and was reluctant to head back, but this turned out to be one of my favorite trips ever.

We left Bend around 5 AM on a Saturday and ended up getting to the park around noon. We had heard reports that the snow started already, so were nervous that we wouldn't be able to see or do much. As soon as we drove into the park and saw the first view of Rainier, we were shocked. We pulled over at the next view point on the road, with literal tears in our eyes because it was so beautiful. We headed further into the park for our first hike, the Skyline Loop.

Even getting there mid day, we were able to find a parking spot and get started on the hike. The mountain was out the whole time, and we made it to about the halfway point until we decided we probably needed snow shoes. Instead of turning around right away, we decided to spend some time at a beautiful overlook taking photos and taking in the view. We made our way down pretty leisurely and headed to the lodge for a slice of pizza. It was nearing sunset at this point, and we stopped by reflection lake on the way out of the park. We stayed at a hotel in the town of packwood, and found a local dive bar hosting karaoke for the night. We didn't stay out too long though, because we made the split decision to wake up at 4 AM to do a sunrise hike on the other side of the park the next day.

This was the bread and butter of the trip. Hiking Tolmie Lookout at sunrise. Truly one of my favorite hikes I've ever done in my life. We got there just before the sun was about to rise, and started the hike around a big lake. We only saw a few other people on the trail the whole day, and actually had the fire lookout at the top completely to ourselves the whole time we were up there. The first photo of this grid shows the view that were blessed with once we got to the tower.

This was my favorite part of the weekend, and I will recommend it to everyone. We had a leisurely rest of the day spent in the park before we decided to head back to Bend by Sunday night.


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