Cross country backpacking is to me what backpacking once was. Finding a campsite that will suit, and treading gently on the land. It isn’t for everyone, and you must have compass and navigating skills and preferably a lot of nights under oneself before trying it. Always follow all rules, especially in National Parks.
Tori, Ford and I set out to do a cross country trip at Mount Rainier National Park, in Seattle Park. We were on the edge of subalpine and alpine where we called our night.
We started the trail at Carbon River Campground (*This was when the road still existed. The road would blow out in November of 2006, causing the park to turn the road into a wide trail, that was partially rerouted. The car campground would become a 5 mile hike in backcountry camp, next to the Wonderland Trail.) A short trail connect to the Wonderland Trail and heads out, along the Carbon River (*The Wonderland Trail would receive massive damage in this event and in later events, calving off part of the trail, and requiring multiple crossings over the river to stay on the Wonderland Trail) I had hiked this section a few times before, and it was a pleasant hike in the sunny open woods, and crossing many gentle side streams (they were all bridged).
We’d often led Ford lead (he was 9) to set the pace. We eventually came to the junction just before the Carbon Suspension Bridge, and took a right, going severely uphill immediately, on the trail to Seattle Park and Spray Park (otherwise known as the Mother Mountain Loop).
With steep stairs cut into the trail, it goes up fast, pulling into subalpine from deep forest.
As with all good subalpine trails, wild blueberries and huckleberries will slow you down in late summer.
More trail to climb up, up and up. But suddenly we had Rainier in front of us.
We left the trail and followed an older version of the trail. Long ago the snow stuck around a lot longer, and the trail was often under snow even in late August. We found areas where arrows were spray painted for navigation when in whiteouts (not uncommon up there). We then wandered off to an area I am not mentioning and cut through tiny pocket meadows to where we found an area to camp. Out tents were on durable surface (flat rock area). And then we enjoyed our afternoon and evening. This wasn’t a trip we were doing hard stuff on all day. The hike in was not short, so why not enjoy it?
Tori enjoying the view and Ford chilling.
Having dinner, in Rainbow Croc ripoffs. Those were so styling! FBC dinners of course.
One of my first purchases for light backpacking was an Ursack critter bag. I slowly convinced most hiking partners to pick one up.
As the sun settled I wandered around to enjoy the views. The alpine section of Seattle Park stretched out above us.
We started smelling smoke that night but couldn’t see flames.
The sunset was pretty though, looking across the ridges.
It wasn’t cold and with no water around us (we had a dry camp/hauled all our water), we were not bothered by bugs.
The smoke smell became more pronounced, so we decided to hike out first thing in the morning.
Moon watching was nice that night.
Woke up to blue skies up high.
I’d let Ford pack a Gameboy with him on most trips. He was allowed to play in camp, and it kept him safe while I cooked and packed up.
I looked over when I heard a sound. One mountain goat showed up.
Then the whole family.
We packed up and worked our way down to the main trail, the sun was just coming up there.
Looking back at the mountain, and then we turned and started hiking out.
We got down to the truck to be notified we needed to leave. There was a wildfire on the other side of the Carbon River, and they were concerned about it jumping. We had made a wise choice to hike out early.