Thursday, 22 December 2011

2011 Highlights Part 4

My trip round the USA was an obvious highlight of the year, but there was also highlights within the highlights. From small little things like wandering round Redwood forests looking for Ewoks, having black bears visiting the campsite (yes we stayed 100m back...ok we are tourists the camera will protect me!), the joys of REI (gear porn...) and a multitude of wildlife/walking/camp experiences.

Mount Rainier was not a mountain or area I had heard much about before this visit. The USA has so many stunning national parks it's easy to miss a few! The Skyline Trail up to Panorama Point is a short 5.4 mile loop that delivers stunning views. What it lack in length it gives back in height gained, 520m to reach a high point of approx. 2160m.

With such heavy snow in the winter there was still plenty of snow covering sections of the trail, in fact the lower loop looked treacherous for a group in shorts and T-shirts, so the higher loop was taken. It was a strange experience looking down a snow covered hill wearing shorts, feeling warm, at a group doing winter skills training!

The mountain itself was a stunning backdrop with glaciers and bare rock to contrast with the deep blue cloudless skies. We seemed to of timed things right, as the trail had enough snow to be fun, warm enough to not need extra clothes and just at the point when the lower meadows flowered. This did mean I had a touch of hay fever! Today was mostly fuelled by Walmart m&m trail mix.

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