This week's featured traveler is quite the adventurer. Moe is a a highpointer. This means she road trips with a small group around the United States and climbs the highpoint in each area that they stop in. On this trip, she climbed to the summit of Mt. Rainier and was able to explore the city of Seattle afterwards.
While Mt. Rainier is not the highest nor the most difficult of the mountains to climb, you can encounter some pretty serious weather, which causes about half of the people who attempt it to turn around. Luckily, during Moe's time on the mountain, she was in for some beautiful weather and a great ascent.
This journey began in the parking lot with a 40 lb. pack trudging through snow at 9:30 a.m. Their first stop was base camp, five cold yet beautiful hours away. Once they made it to the hut at base camp, which consisted of “sardine-like” sleeping arrangements, the group was told "Make sure you drink 2 liters of water with dinner, we will come and wake you up when it is time to go. We will not tell you what that time it will be because we do not want to freak any of you out, get some sleep! By the way, 50% of people have to turn around at some point along the next stretch; we will let you know if it is you." Encouraging...
At around 12 a.m. and after about a half hour of sleep, the group was told to eat and get their things packed up. They were heading out at 1 a.m. From this point on everyone was to wear headlamps and harnesses because they were to be roped off hiking up a pretty treacherous part of the mountain. The group would stop about every hour to get some calories in their bodies and to drink some water. Since it is so cold on the mountain you can only stop for a brief amount of time before your body temperature decreases and you get pretty damn cold.
The climb up was pretty tough at times. There's one point in particular on the hike up called “Disappointment Cleaver” where you are basically doing a “wall sit” for 45 minutes while hiking up an area that includes dangerous rock fall. Talk about endurance!
Moe and her fellow highpointers reached the summit of Mt. Rainier at about 7:30 a.m. where they were able to take a quick break before heading back down.
"This has to be one of the most breathtaking moments I have ever come across. To look up in the dark and see not only the amount of stars that were in the sky, but also the swirl of headlamps switch backing up the mountain was such a surreal experience." -M.P.
On the way back down the snow was slippery and slushy which caused the group to slip with every other step. Suddenly, about half way down the group heard the rope team above them yell “Boulder! Boulder! Boulder!” Luckily the falling rock missed them by 10 feet. "After that we were basically running down propelled by fear." Moe said.
Once the team got back to base camp they were able to glissade through a white-out down the mountain allowing them to make the decent in half the time it took to climb up. Glissading is basically sliding down the mountain on your butt in tracks that previous people have created.
When they were finally off the mountain, the highpointers were ready for a new kind of adventure. It was time for a well deserved tour around Seattle.
1. Save some money by renting a house on VRBO. Moe rented one near Mt. Rainier National Park so she would have somewhere to return to after the expedition. From there you can make your way to the train to head into the city.
2. While in Seattle, cozy up and enjoy some great food at Kells Irish pub, a hole in the wall not too far away from Pikes Place.
3. Stop by the Pike Place Market in Seattle. There are a ton of eclectic trinkets and memorabilia. Pick up a souvenir for mom while you're at it!
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