Backpacking The Northern Loop in Mt. Rainier – Conquest (pt 2)


After staving off hypothermia the previous night, we were on our way the third day with wet socks and jackets flapping from our packs. Again the Northern Loop presented us with a challenge…after Yellowstone Cliffs is perhaps the steepest part of the trail. We now had to descend 3000 feet in 2.8 miles…my poor knees. We forged on down endless switchbacks. It was truly beautiful forest, although I had to walk slowly (and often sideways).

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Backpacking The Northern Loop in Mt. Rainier – Beauty and Danger Intermingled (pt 1)

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Last summer while visiting the Pacific Coast with my kids, I found the Pacific Northwest so beautiful that I decided to go back and do some backpacking. So early September a year later my 15 year old son and I flew to Seattle to hike the Northern Loop Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park. The Northern Loop covers nearly 40 miles in the northern and most remote section of the park and is considered strenuous with an elevation gain of ~9000 feet.

It is a steeply up, steeply down trail with little in the way of flat. So I spent the summer exercising and lightening my backpacking gear to prepare for the trip. I also frequented the weather report leading up to the trip. The last report predicted cool temps with some chance of rain the first two days of the hike and sunny and warmer the last two days. I was happy and felt prepared. And yet…Mount Rainier is a mammoth mountain sitting near the Pacific coast. They say the mountain makes it’s own weather.

Turns out, they are right.

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We go on a family vacation every year…sometimes more than one  We had traveled sooo much in 2013, and 2014 had dawned difficult, so somehow I found summer 2014 fast approaching and nothing was planned. Well I couldn’t have that. I think the plan pretty much came about because I had never been to Oregon, and the kids lacked Washington and California as well, so boom.  A Pacific Coast trip was birthed.

It doesn’t take much inspiration to get me on the road…

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