We were going horseback riding in Elbe, Washington when we discovered that Mt. Rainier National Park was just a short drive away. What a pleasant surprise, we thought. After driving through several scenic viewpoints, stopping to play in snow and sip on root beer floats, we decided we would take a short “easy” 1.3 mile hike across from Reflection Lake up to Snow Lake. Easy peasy we thought… but man, were we wrong.
I had on a plaid flannel, a down vest, jeans, and white Keds – I was not dressed for the occasion. It was the start of summer, but the snow was at least a few inches deep. Any sign indicating the direction of the trail must’ve been buried in the snow as it was impossible to make out where the trail is. All we had were footsteps of other adventurous (but perhaps more prepared and appropriately dressed) hikers that came before us. It looked like a white winter wonderland out there, and in certain areas, footsteps were all over the place. It was nearly impossible to follow, and in other areas, we had to pull on tree branches to hike upwards while avoiding streams that had been covered by a layer of ice and snow. My toes were frozen, my hands numb, my butt bruised and wet from slipping – It seemed a complete nightmare at the time. We kept treading on as the sun was setting. We kept thinking: we’ve come this far, let’s not turn back now. We kept telling ourselves we were almost there. When we reached the lake… It was anti-climatic to say the least. The lake was frozen, and there was nothing much to be seen. We disappointingly started to head back since the last thing we want is to get stuck out there in the cold, and in the dark. The hike back was just as awful, but at least the majestic Mt. Rainier (pictured) was in sight to accompany us.
Looking back… It was quite an adventure! Would I do it again? Yes, but only with the appropriate attire and gear, or in the summer when the trail is in sight, the fields are green, the streams aren’t hidden traps, and when one can actually make out what the beautiful Snow Lake looks like.
Image: Snow Lake Hike next to Mt. Rainier, Washington (USA) | June 2016