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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Skyline Trail

I was standing on the edge of  trail with a clear warning sign of "steep snow", but I did not falter. I took my first step, and then another, my friend close behind me with both of my trekking pokes as she did not have hiking boots. I got about half way - I was going to make it! And then, I slipped.

Wait, let me back up to the beginning. On Thursday afternoon, while I was at work, a patient was telling us about a trail up on Paradise at the Mt. Rainier National Park, where apparently you can see several mountains at once. This intrigued me. Apparently, because Paradise's elevation was so high (5,400 ft), snow had been covering the Skyline trail up until this point but now it was "hikable".

I had managed to convince my friend Monica to go, as she liked to hike occasionally. It was a two hour drive, and a total of a 1,400 foot incline in a 6 mile loop. I hadn't hiked all summer but nothing was going to stop me now. I wanted that view more than anything, and I really wanted to test out my new Sony NEX-5N MILC camera.

The hike itself was well maintained. As you can see, it was a perfectly clear day, and we had a view of the top of Mt. Rainier pretty much the whole hike. I wasn't used to the thin air, so going up steep inclines definitely made me pause, but I could tell that my strength workouts at the Y were paying off.

Unfortunately, something in my camera flubbed up, and this was the result at Panorama Point. However, if you ignore the overexposure and weird darkening effect, you will see Mount Adams and off in the distance, Mount St. Helens with her blown top.

After Panorama Point is when Monica and I ran into trouble. This high up, there was indeed still snow on a part of the trail. Many people had created a useable trail and were currently crossing it, so we tried our luck.

This is where I was a few feet before I slipped. As you can see, it slopes down quite a bit at the end there, and I had nothing to hold onto. Luckily, my ass remained on the trail after I fell. But, like ice, there was no getting back up again. I decided to sled my way down to the other side. If it hadn't been for the fact that the snow here seemed colder than typical snow and was about freezing my hand off, it would have been fun. It happened to Monica also, and she ended up doing the same thing I had. She had supporters cheering her on behind her, though. :P

After that, the hike went well for a bit. We ran into a family where a teen had somehow hurt his ankle. They were currently trying to wrap it in a splint and asked if we had any Ace bandages. Unfortunately, our first aid kits were limited to band-aids and an S.O.S. whistle. A little over a mile away from the point of entry (as it was a loop), Monica somehow twinged her ankle; probably in sympathy. At this point, we had to slow quite a bit.
[At this point, with a tripod weighing my pack down because I was determined to get the well-known "blurry water photo" of my dreams, I had already tried twice to no avail. Even with a Neutral Density filter of 8, there was no shade and my photos were way over exposed. It wasn't until after Monica hurt herself that I was finally able to get the perfect shot.]

I let her go on without me while I set up my tripod one last time. Finally, a waterfall in the shade. The perfect conditions for my blurry water.

I was not disappointed.

We slowly made our way back to the car. That last 1.4 miles seemed endless. And I knew I was finally getting sunburned despite my slathering on of sunscreen before I left. But, it was all worth it in the end. The views were spectacular, and I finally got my dream photo!

Here's some more shots to satiate your need. Enjoy!

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