Recently, a couple friends and I had been talking about getting out on Rainier to do some snowboarding and get the old hiking legs warmed up. Last weekend we saw our chance, the weather called for heavy snow up to Sunday and then lighter weather from Sunday on. We packed up the car and departed the Seattle area at 5 AM (we got an extra hour of zzz's thanks to DST).
We rolled into the Paradise entrance around 7:15 after stopping for much needed coffee and hiking snacks. The whole ride up to Paradise it looked pretty socked in but we were still stoked because it started snowing about half way. A snow covered (empty
) parking lot greeted us at the top. After drifting around in the car we found a spot and started gearing up.
None of us have splits so we mounted up our snowshoes and made our way toward the Golden Gate Trail. There was close to a foot of fresh snow in places as we started our ascent and it just got deeper. The stoke was running high as we reached the base of the Stevens Creek Valley as we could tell we'd be riding all the way back to the car. Just when I didn't think the stoke could get any higher, the clouds and fog broke just enough for some sun to poke through and cast some playful light on the snow. The snow banks along Stevens Creek took on the surreal glow of early winter magic. Pressing on toward Golden Gate we kept catching glimpses of the sun. Then about half way up the steepest, most difficult point of our climb, we punched through the clouds and so did the sun. We were sitting in a nice little bubble of blue bird.
All around us billowing storm clouds threatened to collapse on us but the power of the great volcano we stood on held them back. We continued to hike in our bubble of sunshine applauding the peak as it, too, emerged from the clouds. Mt. Rainier stood before us in all her majesty, beckoning us on past Golden Gate and onward toward the Muir Snowfield.
We stopped at Panorama Point for some lunch, seshed on a windlip and shredded freshies in the snowfield below. Above us there was a little boulder and a cornice we decided to go drop. The landing set us up perfectly to ride into the windlip once more so we did that and shredded some more freshies on the way back down. The ride down from Golden Gate was fun but the coverage was not great since the wind had gotten to it before we could. A little further along the last ridge before catching the trail had some nice pillows followed by a creek ollie
straight into a bridge ride over freezing, rushing water. Thankfully nobody fell off the bridge and we all skated back to the car to bask in the sunshine a little longer before it set behind the Olympics.
Pretty damn good day; can't wait to do it again this coming weekend!