My Favorite Hike Near Mt. Rainier

My Favorite Hike Near Mt. Rainier

I spent the night camping at La Wis Wis campground, which is part of the National Forest Service (Gifford Pinchot). I hadn’t known about it before and found it to be a delightful place to camp. The sites were huge in Loop E and they were right along a crystal clear river. I slept fitfully, though, because it was so hot and didn’t really cool off sufficiently until around 2am.

Getting up at 6am, I quickly packed up my campsite and headed to Tipsoo Lake on Hwy 410. I was going to start there and hike the Naches Peak Loop.

I first saw Tipsoo Lake in June 2017 and it was still 90% covered in snow. You couldn’t even see the trails. I intended to hike it in August of that year, but wildfires had Hwy 410 closed in that area. Finally, I was going to hike it!

Getting to the trail early was ideal since there weren’t many people around yet. I started by hiking the perimeter of Tipsoo Lake, enjoying the variety of wildflowers and the view of Mt. Rainier. Looking at the water of the lake, I could see hoards of mosquitoes. Surprisingly, they didn’t bother me…having on bug repellent must have helped.

Once I got a decent photo of Mt. Rainier reflected onto the lake, my friends and I started clockwise on the Naches Peak Loop. After the first bit of ascent, I had to climb over the same felled tree twice. There was also some muddy areas where snow had melted recently.

The trail crossed a bridge that went over the highway, where it picked up the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT). At this point, the mosquitoes were becoming fierce, biting me through my clothes and not caring that I had on DEET. We were also out of the trees for the most part and the sun was already becoming brutal by 9:30am.

I was starting to have difficulty breathing and feeling sick…something that happened to me on my last hike at Mt. Rainier (Sunrise). I started chewing salt tablets and Shot Block, which helped a bit, but with no appetite and getting lethargic, I was unable to really eat anything for more energy. Since coming home and looking it up, I have concluded that I’m prone to acute mountain sickness when I hike above 5,200′ (the highest part of Naches Peak Loop was around 5,800′).

I wanted to quite and just lay there, hoping someone would drag me out. But, the stunning views kept me going…plus, so many other people that looked like me were hiking with no problem and I didn’t want to look like a whimp.

At the high point, we ran into a ranger. The trail was getting really busy with other hikers and I’m sure he was just keeping an eye on things. He also assured me that I was still on the right trail. It was around this point where we got off the PCT (at least I can now say I hiked part of it, even if it was only a mile or so).

I was really glad to be done with the hike by the time we finished, but I hope to hike it again….it was so beautiful and is now one of my favorite trails.

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