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Travel Tuesday: Upper Crystal Lake

Travel Tuesday: Upper Crystal Lake
Travel Tuesday: Upper Crystal Lake

Today marks two weeks since we drove into the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

The day we drove in it was above 80 degrees and all the vegetation was dry and yellowing. Not quite what we had pictured. Apparently the area around I5 has been experiencing some abnormally high temperatures and abnormally low amounts of rain. Luckily we received a taste of the true Washington this weekend on our first hike in Mt. Rainier National Park.

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The number of hiking opportunities within driving distance is now overwhelming. Since this was our first hike and we are trying to budget, we picked one of the closest hikes we could find. The Sunset entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park is just over an hour from our home and this hike is less than 5 miles from the park entrance.

The Crystal Lakes trail leads to Crystal Lake Peak and then both upper and lower Crystal lakes. It was incredibly rainy so we only hiked the 3 miles in to Upper Crystal lake and the 3 miles back out (6 miles round trip). Had it been a nicer day with less clouds we definitely would have attempted the peak for the view of Rainier.

We didn’t mind the rain too much. More on that later. The views were still picturesque.

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It was a fairly steep trail that ascended about 2300 ft in the 3 mile hike to the lake. We are both a bit out of practice so that may have contributed, but we were definitely breathing hard throughout most of the ascension. One water break was very necessary.

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Toward the end of the trail, it finally opened up to fields and the outline of mountains in the distance. On a clear day it was probably a sight to be seen, but for us it was an eerily quiet view.

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I mostly enjoyed the drizzling rain, despite it putting a damper on how far we could see. The fog rolling in and out of the trees and mountains and the feeling of hiking through the clouds was unreal.

The best part of the hike was feeling like we were alone. We passed maybe five small groups on the trail but for the majority it was just us. Since arriving in the Tacoma area I feel like we have been surrounded by people every single second. Escaping to nature was much needed.

Yes, that’s right Alaska. You have ruined me. This girl now cherishes her away from humans.

After about 2 hours, we finally reached the lake:

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To say I was in love with be an understatement. The water was completely see through and the green of the surrounding vegetation was so vibrant.

When looking out across the water and eating our sandwiches I realized for the first time since I’d arrived I wasn’t stressed about finding a house, or a job, or wondering where our household goods were. The only thought in my head was honestly – “Wow.”

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Aftermath? Me legitimately looking like I fell in a river.

The rain soaking us clear through all of our clothing was new. Even my poor rain jacket didn’t fair well and allowed my flannel to get damp. Experienced hikers, any tips? The North Face jacket was supposed to be “water proof”…

Overall, a hell of a hike.

In the wise words of red-headed Annie, “I think I’m gonna like it hereeeee!”

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
John Muir

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