My college roommate got married in Seattle in 1990. Having significantly less time off than her new spouse, her new spouse was charged with entertaining me, his sister, and her friend. Since he was a serious hiker (the kind who goes out every weekend and tackles a different mountain trail and never brings a camera because the scenery isn’t the point), he decided to take us on one his favorite hikes on Mount Rainier.
Keep in mind that I only hike for the photo ops and his sister and friend – visiting from England – very likely spend most of their time hiking around the local shops at home. They certainly weren’t used to hiking up a mountainside, especially at 5000 feet. (Neither was I.) But he insisted and soon we were on the Tolmie Peak Lookout/Eunice Lake Trail.
Eunice Lake was beautiful, still and calm in the hot sun, but there were a few mosquitos. They weren't too bad, but my British companions – including the instigator of this hike -- weren’t used to mosquitos and found them dreadfully unpleasant. I believe a bit of unpleasant language and a fair amount of violence (directed at the mosquitos) occurred.
Well, some of the unpleasant language might have ben directed at our guide, as from here we could see our destination: the Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout.
But he kept pushing us along on what sometimes seemed like a forced march into the wilderness, prodding us along almost every step of the way, encouraging us to keep moving and frustrated that we were so slow. He did pause occasionally to ask us if we were enjoying the scenery, to which his sister replied: “I feel like I’m on a train, with the scenery whizzing past.”
Actually, he did stop occassionally to take a break, probably so none of us got too far behind. Once the last of us (usually me, since I kept stopping to take pictures) reached his shady resting spot, the break was over. Time to hike some more! Isn’t this fun!?
But it was stunningly beautiful (the lake, the mountains, all those flowers!) and we did have a wonderful sense of accomplishment when we reached the lookout tower. . . or maybe we were simply lightheaded from exhaustion and the altitude.
At any rate, at the lookout tower we had a chance to rest, eat lunch, and savor our accomplishment . . . at least until the young woman with the child on her shoulders bounded past us, barely breathing hard. Maybe this shouldn’t have seemed so hard.
At least we had amazing scenery to distract us from the fact that we would soon need to begin the hike back.
It was a truly delightful, if exhausting, day. And all my hiking companions survived their mosquito bites and lived to tackle our next (non-hiking) adventure the following day.
Information on this hike – with links to more to see and do in Mount Rainier National Park.
Fire Lookouts on Mount Rainier
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