On July 28,  2013, Leslie and I hiked Mt. Rainier with her friend Hao from China. I was so exhausted from keeping up with them on that hike that I resolved to lose 30 pounds so that I could continue to hike the Cascades.  I lost that weight by changing my diet and have continued to lose weight, but a recent snowshoeing trip on Rainier convinced me that I’ve lost too much muscle and need to rebuild it, even if it means gaining some weight.  

We bought new snowshoes for Christmas and new all-weather tires for the RAV-4, and that has been enough to get us to snowshoe once a week for the last five weeks.  One of our first treks was from Narada Falls to Reflection Lake, well, if we had actually gotten to Reflection Lake.  

This was also our first snowshoes on Mt. Rainier several years ago, so I thought it would be doable, and with considerable huffing-and-puffing on my part, we did make it to the highway that serves as a snowshoe trail in the winter.

Unfortunately, the usual trail/highway was closed because of high avalanche danger.  We would have to add another mile and several hundred feet elevation gain to make it to the lake using the detour route.  I had to tell Leslie and Paul I wasn’t up to doing it and that it was time to turn back.  I had to settle for this shot of Mt. Rainier.

Not being able to make it to our intended destination really frustrated me.  I knew that I had lost a lot of muscle since we had quit going to the YMCA during the Covid 19 quarantine, but I didn’t realize how much it had affected me until this trip.  Luckily, we also rejoined the YMCA in January, so I started walking further and hitting the rowing machine and weight machines harder. The gate was closed at Longmire on our next trip, so we ended up doing a snowshoe at a lower altitude, and I didn’t have any problems on that trip.

On our fourth week we attempted the Narada Falls/Reflection Trek again.  This time I wore lighter boots and left my camera gear, except for my iPhone, home.  We realized that the road was open to the lake when we saw other skiers coming from the other side.

The view at the “lake” was a little disappointing because there was nothing but a big snowfield, but I was elated that I had actually made it there without feeling totally exhausted.  

This shot of Pinnacle Peak and The Castle across from the lake made the trip worthwhile,  

and this view of Rainier on our way back was the frosting on the cakes, so to speak.

If you need to train hard, I can’t imagine a better place to do it than around Mt. Rainier.  Once you’ve caught your breath and straightened back up, the surrounding beauty makes you forget the pain of overexertion.  

What do you think?

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