It sucks getting up early on a Sunday, but the early hiker gets a parking spot at the trailhead! And at Rainier, early means no lines getting into the park and quiet trails. Come after lunch and they close the gates if at park capacity on the side we were in! My friend Lynn joined me and we did a trail we had both hiked before – Owyhigh Lakes, which is off the White River Road. We had hiked it together 4 years ago and I had hiked it in 2007 as wellThe trail tends to be ignored compared to a ridge over, the trail to Summerland on the Wonderland Trail. Mostly because there isn’t any views of Rainier. What it gives is a nice trail, with a wide easy to walk tread, lovely forest and pretty flowers at the top. Without the teeming masses of humanity!
The trail takes long swooping switchbacks up the side of Tamanos Mountain, often with views at the end, looking up towards Sourdough Ridge and Sunrise and a few of the canyon that Shaw Creek runs through.
You know you are there when you cross Tamanos Creek, which is fed from snowfields. There is a small backcountry campsite not far away, although I have to admit I haven’t ever had any desire to camp here. Not sure why either. Although if you like to climb, it makes a great base camp for this purpose. And climbing does happen in this area.
Every time I come up here I love the section after the creek – it is nearly flat, rolling through open woods and then it simply opens up – with the first views of Governors Ridge:
The meadows have some amazing flower shows. We caught the early show – where most of the lilies were gone but the big show is just starting. My first time here the meadows were white with Avalanche Lilies – it was simply spectacular:
The sun was really high over us, I don’t think I have ever gotten a good photo of Owyhigh Lakes with Governors Ridge in the background:
We left the lakes and headed up to the pass. Here if one wanted to, they could head over the pass and down the back side. This half of the trail isn’t used as much – I haven’t done it and would someday like to. There was still a good amount of snow in the shaded areas here, we found a sunny spot to have lunch – with a view of the Cowlitz Chimneys:
One part of my lunch was a Live Pumpkin Bar - chewy, crispy and very tasty:
I also had Thai Curry Cashews (they are not listed on the website – we received a bag of them for review recently, they may be new) and a sammie made with a vegan cashew cream cheese (recipe is coming over on Gazing In soon) packed with spinach leaves. I know, I know…my lunch might seem odd, but that is how I eat now. Although I was bummed I had forgotten my tub o’ Marionberries at home!
Coming back down the trail, looking down at the lakes:
We did a little over 8½ miles and a near 2,000 feet of gain with our exploring. I can say my thighs are feeling it today! It was a nice hike. We were leaving the park by 1:30 pm and passed a very long line of idling cars waiting to come into the park – backed up nearly to the highway. Oopsies. See? That is why you come early!