Location: Mount Rainier National Park, Longmire area
Distance: 5 miles
Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
This was a day that dampened aspirations but could not stamp out my need for a snowy adventure. The plan had been to climb to Camp Muir but recent storms and a lack of personnel stopped rangers from clearing the road to Paradise or even opening the gate to let us take our chances. Since we’d already driven nearly two hours and had no backup plan, we sucked it up and decided to take an easy stroll up Rampart Ridge.
I’d done the trail in summer and attempted it in the heart of winter so I couldn’t argue with the logic it made to hike it in fall. The path winds slowly through a forest before peaking out briefly at a viewpoint. Normally, hikers can see the river, the valley and nearby Tumtum Peak. I saw white: fog, clouds, snow. The trees were weighed down with powder and several inches coated the wet ground.
After skirting the cliff, I briefly rested and enjoyed my snowy view, trying to conjure up the images I saw here on my first exploration. I fondly recalled the gray jays that had swooped and stolen my snacks. The cold, however, quickly prodded me to finish the loop and return to the warmth of the car.