Friday, July 8, 2011

Saddling up Eagle Peak

Distance: 7 miles

Elevation gain: 2,950 feet

Location: Mount Rainier National Park

Snow still blanketed the majority of paths in the Puget Sound region but I thought I might luck out with Eagle Peak & Saddle. It was a fool’s errand.

The hike starts in the Longmire area of the park, just behind the employee’s headquarters and over the Nisqually River bridge. The scenery is fairly standard for a forest but the huge patches of snow on the ground brought a sense of trepidation.

Route-finding in snow is always a challenge and I wasn’t feeling up to par today. We kept walking though, shoving markers in the compacted snow so we could find our way back to the trailhead.

It wasn’t long before we lost any sense of the trail and scoured the hillside for any clue as to which direction to head. There was a mini debate over where to cross the creek and I almost had him convinced to just leap over the frigid water when he spotted a small board crossing.

Our elation at rediscovering the path was short-lived. We made another mile or so before throwing our hands up and deciding to retreat without seeing the saddle.

It helped when a ranger told us only two people had made it to the saddle this winter… but only a little.

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