A mere two hours after we left home we were in the Sunrise parking lot in Mt. Rainier National Park. What a great boon it is to have such ready access to such a spectacular place.
Our goal for the day was to burn energy. If we happened to tag a summit and see some sights that'd be cool, too, but just a bonus.
Henry started out walking, but made it about a quarter mile and a couple hundred feet up before it was clear we weren't going to really get far with him on foot. An M&M (or two) convinced him he'd rather be in the pack so we started making better time after that. Not that we made great time, of course. The girls loved to poke at ant hills, flowers, rocks, the air, and random invisible things that were blocking their progress.
While the sky wasn't exactly clear when we left the parking lot it was t-shirt and shorts weather. About 73F. As we climbed a bit higher it didn't get colder, but did get windier. Specifically when we passed a weakness in the ridge where the Sourdough Ridge trail was exposed to the north side and the wind could blow through.
Just as we were starting to lose steam we met up with a small group and learned there was a chipmunk waiting for us at the top. The girls immediately doubled their effort and soon we were virtually flying up the trail. When we did arrive at the summit (at just over 7,000 feet) we didn't find the chipmunk, but did find a nice place to have a late lunch and look for rocks and bugs.
Amazingly, the girls found a bunch of ladybugs and got one to climb on their finger before I blew it away so we could head down. Poor Henry was barely out of his pack when I got him back in. He didn't even really get to wander too much on top because there were a couple of spots where a two year old's stability wouldn't be a great asset.
From our summit we could see Rainier was being cloaked in more threatening clouds. The temperature had dropped appreciably and the girls had donned coats. Hiking again, though, we warmed up and with most of the discoveries made on the way up we cruised down.
in fact, when we were back on the final leg the girls asked if they could run down looking for the numbered posts on the Sunrise nature walk loop. Sure, why not? How fast could they actually run and how far would they get before they got tired and I could catch up?
When I realized they weren't going to tire out I started a slow lope down the hill with Henry urging me to go faster and faster. With the girls still about 100 feet ahead of me I passed an older gentleman. I said something like, "One of these days I'll catch up to them." He said, "Sorry, but you've got it all wrong. They're getting faster and you're getting slower."
We changed out of our hiking gear and grabbed some ice cream in the lodge. When we got into the car for the ride home it started sprinkling and I noticed the temperature was a full 20 degrees colder than when we started. Henry was asleep before we got out of the park and the girls weren't far behind him.
Total distance was about 4.3 miles and the gain was about 1,250 feet.