Mount Rainier National Park, Washington – Glacier Basin

Climbers planning to summit Mount Rainier from the Sunrise area use the White River Campground as a starting point. From the campground they hike up to one of the established base camps higher on the mountain. Anyone can hike to the lower camps, but you need a permit to camp, and you need a permit to even access the camps that are on the Glacier. We decided to hike to Glacier Basin Camp, and perhaps a bit higher into the “Wedge” if the overcast weather allows it.

The Glacier Basin Trail rises from 4,400 feet at the campground to about 6,000 at the camp and possible to 7,000 if the weather holds. The Glacier Basin Trail, here in late July, is starting to come into full bloom and is relatively clear of snow.

Monkey Flowers

Anemone seedheads, sometimes called “Mice on a Stick”.

A Profusion of Wildflowers.

Heather (Pink, Yellow, and White) and Magenta Paintbrush.

We made it to the camp and though the clouds were hanging low we continued on for another mile or so to reach the basin, just at the bottom of the cloud layer and at the bottom of the “Wedge”.

Climbers descending the “Wedge” from the summit.

Notice the pinkish – red hue to the snow above. This is caused by an algae commonly called Watermelon Snow.

Back out of the Clouds.

We managed to get to about 6,500 feet before the clouds closed in on us. At that point the climbing was still manageable, but visibility dictated a retreat.

The clouds followed us down the mountain and we were nearly back to Glacier Camp before we got ahead of them.

Anemones in Bloom.

Truly, you don’t need a blue sky day to enjoy time in the mountains, sometimes the less clement days are some of the most marvelous adventures and you get to see the peaks in a whole different light. The clouds and soft light take away the shadows and the natural contrast of the terrain and highlight features unseen in the bright sun.


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