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Mount Rainier National Park

Saturday, September 2, 2023 - Saturday, September 9, 2023 -- $1700 ★★★★



Description

The beauty of Mt. Rainier National Park will leave you speechless. Whether it's the alpine lakes, temperate rainforest full of ancient conifers, charismatic megafauna, redolent lupines and other wildflowers, active glaciers, wild berry picking, or the massive monolithic mountain itself, Mt. Rainier is simply awe-inspiring.


Mt. Rainier National Park awards only 5 commercial backpacking permits every year. Fitpacking has been awarded one of them, so this is one of your few chances to participate in a guided backpacking trip to this destination.


This trip will traverse the so-called Northern Loop, much of it on the famed Wonderland Trail as well as other lightly-traveled parts of the park. On our 6-day hike, we may encounter elk, deer, eagles, pikas, black bear, mountain goats and marmots with a backdrop featuring incredible sweeping vistas of active glaciers or Tahoma itself. Experience the timeless wonder of Mt. Rainier with us during the fleeting, relatively dry and bug free temperate season.


Our journey will begin in the Northeastern portion of the park at Sunrise Ranger Station, with a possible day-hike to Fremont Tower for vast, sweeping views of the park and its environs. We’ll leave civilization behind as we head up towards Burroughs Mountain and then to Berkeley Park Camp. The Northern Loop continues to James Lake and down to Carbon Glacier before returning on the Wonderland Trail with a next-to-last-day scramble up to Skyscraper Peak. The perpetually snowy Rainier summit will be our constant companion to the South and West.


Here is the proposed route.



Weather

Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 60s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s. However, be prepared for the possibility of overnight temperatures as low as the 20s and daytime temperatures reaching 80. During the 2008 trip, we woke up to several inches of snow on September 1st. By the afternoon however, it had all melted and by September 2nd (the next day) we were swimming in an alpine lake (although not for very long).


View 7 day weather forecast



Probable Trip Leaders

Guide(s) TBD

Difficulty


Mt. Rainier is one of Fitpacking's more difficult, more advanced, and most rewarding trips. The terrain is well groomed and well maintained, although very little of it is level. Most days are spent either ascending or descending thousands of feet, sometimes both. Furthermore, the mountain "makes its own weather" meaning that there could be high winds, rain or even snow at any time. Of course, it could also be sunny and crystal clear. And then there are the blueberries...



Cost

$1700 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Seattle / Sea-Tac (SEA), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.


Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, Park entrance fees, National Park permits, GPS, and 2 awesome guides.


Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.



Notes

This page shows our proposed route. The actual route will be determined by the Mt Rainier backcountry office sometime in the Spring. We may be awarded a reverse route or a route on another part of the mountain. That said, almost everywhere on Mt Rainier is beautiful.


Although we are allowed a group size of up to 12, the National Park is concerned about campsite crowding impacts and prefers us to have only 6 tents. This means that if our group size exceeds 6, they'd prefer us to start doubling up in tents. We can address this by making sure that each participant's tent is small (one person only) in order to fit into campsite boundaries.


In 2021, the park relaxed their tenting requirements due to Covid and may continue to do so in 2023. We still officially encouraged to double up even though this forced closeness can be less pleasant, but it does make pack weight lighter and was not a problem at all on the 2015 or 2019 trips. Expect a ranger to check up on the group some time during the trip to make sure we're adhering to Leave No Trace and Park Regulations.


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Itinerary
Weather
Guides for this trip
Cost
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)

Itinerary


Saturday, September 2, 2023

Fly into Seattle (SEA). The best arrival time is between 12PM - 3PM, but if you can save a significant amount of money by arriving a little before or after, you should do so.


Take free airport shuttle to local hotel TBD


Mini-equipment shakedown. Pre-Trip, you will have a virtual online shakedown to go through your pack and examine everything you brought to make sure you're outfitted sufficiently.


Go to REI Tukwila to pick up any equipment participants forgot


"Before" body composition measurements taken


Make Your Own Trail mix from a wide variety of ingredients we provide


Go out for opening dinner, review trip orientation (cost of dinner not included in trip cost)


Sunday, September 3, 2023

Second set of "before" measurements taken


Free hotel breakfast or guides will provide a continental breakfast


All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage.


Shuttle to Mt. Rainier National Park, Longmire Ranger Station, picking up backcountry permits in the park.


Begin hiking at Sunrise, elevation 6245'


Hike 1.2 miles to the Wonderland Trail, elevation 6800'


Drop Packs and Day-Hike 2.6 round trip miles to Mt. Fremont Lookout Tower, elevation 7181'


Hike 0.7 miles to the Northern Loop Trail, elevation 6800'


Hike 1.2 miles on the Northern Loop Trail to Berkely Park Campsite, elevation 5375'


Camp at Berkeley Park Campsite, elevation 5375'


Miles today: 5.7. Total miles: 5.7


Possible bailout: Sunrise


Monday, September 4, 2023

Hike 8.8 miles to James Lake Camp, elevation 4620'


Camp at James Lake Camp, elevation 4620'.


Miles today: 8.8. Total miles: 14.5


Possible bailout: Sunrise, but it's pretty far


Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Hike about 1.4 uphill miles to Windy Gap, elevation 5800'


Drop packs and day-hike about 1.8 round trip miles on an unmaintained trail to Natural Bridge, elevation 5200'


Start a long downhill hike, 3.9 miles to the Carbon River, elevation 2900'


Hike 1.1 uphill miles on the Wonderland Trail to a spectacular suspension bridge, elevation 3195'


Cross the suspension bridge with views of Carbon Glacier to get to Carbon River Camp, elevation 3195'.


Camp at Carbon River Camp, elevation 3195'


Miles today: 8.2. Total miles: 22.7


Possible bailout: No ideal options. Ipsut Creek possible


Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Hike 4.9 uphill miles to Mystic Camp, elevation 5570'


Camp at Mystic Camp, elevation 5570'


Miles today: 4.9. Total miles: 27.6


Possible bailout: No ideal options.


Thursday, September 7, 2023

Hike about 3.8 miles to Granite Creek Camp, elevation 5725'


Set up camp at Granite Creek Camp, elevation 5725'


Day-Hike about 3.6 round trip miles to the summit of Skyscraper Peak, elevation 7078'


Enjoy the grandeur, then return to camp


Miles today: 7.4. Total miles: 35.0


Possible bailout: One day away, possibly Sunrise


Friday, September 8, 2023

Hike 4.4 miles on the Wonderland Trail to Sunrise Ranger Station, elevation 6245'


End of hiking


Miles today: 4.4. Total miles: 39.4


Possible bailout: Sunrise


Shuttle back to Seattle and check into local hotel TBD


You will be reunited with your off-trail stuff from storage


"After" measurements taken


Dinner and awards Ceremony (Dinner cost not included in trip cost)


This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.


Saturday, September 9, 2023

There will either be a free airport shuttle, we may drop you at the airport or we may order a shared cab/Uber to get you there.


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