This past weekend I hiked Tolmie Peak. This hike was four months in the making, because I was originally planning on hiking it when Hank visited in March. Unfortunately back then the roads were closed due to weather, but after weeks of sun, they finally opened the gravel road that leads you into Mount Rainier National Park.
It was an absolutely perfect day for a hike; mild weather, clear skies, and a backpack full of snacks. After a two hour drive, we arrived at the park at 1015am ready to go. It took us roughly an hour to get to the top, with multiple stops for pictures and water. The hike itself wasn’t that bad, about 2.9 miles one way, with enough climbing to make beads of sweat drip down to the ground from your nose. Surprisingly, we met a lot of people heading back down as we were hiking up, which brought the question of how early did they get there, since they were climbing down. The first stop of the hike was Eunice Lake, which was a beautiful shimmering blue in the sunlight. The wildflowers around it were blooming and as we looked up, we saw the Tolmie Peak lookout tower, the ultimate destination for our trek. After getting bit by a few bugs wandering around the lake, we began climbing up to the tower. As we climbed, we were rewarded with beautiful views of Mount Rainier, and often had to stop just to take time and admire it. When we reached the top (5943′ in elevation) I was amazed by what we could see. We made out Mount St. Helens, with it’s flat top, to the south, and to the north we could see the pointy edges of Mount Baker. It was absolutely incredible to be that high. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the highest elevations I’ve ever been.
Rainier is an active volcano, and at over 14,000′, it’s large enough to create it’s own weather. As we reached the top, the clouds began swarming, making it impossible to make out the top of the mountain. If I were to come back to the PNW and hike around Rainier again (which I will definitely do), I would start hiking around 8am, because the earlier you get there, the more likely you are to see the mountain when you get to your destination.
It’s an absolutely breathtaking view because you can’t imagine the mountain being that big until you see it and then it’s right in front of you. Pictures just can’t do it justice.
As I was hiking I started thinking about the fact that I only had six more days in the Pacific Northwest (now it’s five). It’s amazing to think that I spent the past six months here, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the PNW, and I can’t wait to come back and explore even more. When I was first making the decision to work for Amazon and move out here, I remember my dad said “the only bad part about you moving out there is that you’ll probably end of loving it so much you’ll want to move 3000 miles away”. He called it before I had even made a decision. The PNW definitely has a special place in my heart, and it’s going to be great to come back and visit and do more. I’ve also been saying goodbye to a lot of the people that I’ve met here, and I’m not as sad as I usually am when I say goodbye. It might be because they’re not actually goodbyes, they’re more “see you later”. I definitely feel like I’ll be back again, and be able to see all of the awesome people I’ve met here. The friendships I’ve made here have been incredible, and I feel like I’ve really created a life for myself out here. Someone asked me this past weekend after a soccer game “was it hard to get to know people?” The answer is no, it wasn’t hard at all. Through connections I made new friends, and I was able to join a soccer team. Because I knew I wanted to coach, I found a lacrosse team and through that I was able to join an adult womens team. Someone I coach lacrosse with also plays hockey, and they turned me to a pick up womens hockey league that played on Tuesdays. I’ve made so many connections while I’ve been out here, connections I know will last a long time. I’ve pushed myself to meet new people and explore, and I’ve been rewarded with friendships from all over. I know I have people to turn to when I come back.
I’ve learned a lot about myself and the kind of person I am out here, and I can’t wait to bring some PNW vibes back home.