Another Failure

Pinnacle Peak wasn’t our only disappointing hike in Mount Rainier National Park this summer.  Our attempt to conquer Eagle Peak was even more frustrating.  We discovered Eagle Peak last winter while snowshoeing. We were the first people to hike it after a snowstorm, and, though it was a delightful hike, we only hiked about a third of it because it was exhausting. Since we knew it was probably even more challenging than Pinnacle Peak, we waited deep into September before attempting it, as made clear by the lack of snow on the South Side of Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Rainier from Longmire

Although it was a beautiful forest,  the trees were so thick that there wasn’t much to take pictures of it.  That’s probably why this dead tree caught my attention,

Rotted Tree with Fungus

that and its unexpectedly bright colors.  We’ve seen a lot of different mushrooms hiking the Cascades, but none of us had ever seen anything quite like this. 

Strange Fungus

Unfortunately, the best views awaited us at the saddle or the peak, but it was a long, steady uphill haul.

Leslie and Paul approaching trail junction

When we reached the end of the “maintained trail,” we were greeted by this trail junction.

This

The rocky trail straight up the mountain

was the “trail” leading up to the peak — while the trail to the saddle was unclear.  

We decided to have lunch and consider our options,  and another highlight of the day appear — a rarely-seen pika.

Pika

After some deliberations, I decided I could probably make it to the top where scenic wonders awaited, but I was not at all sure that —even with hiking poles — I could make it down without falling. Since I’ve gone on blood thinners for my aFib I’ve gotten a lot more conscious of falling, and falling on sharp rocks miles from first-aid seemed especially unappealing.  

It was another disappointing hike, but at least once we finished my Apple Watch notified me that it was the longest hike of the summer and that we gained more altitude than on any other hike. I would have been especially pleased with that nearly twenty years ago when Bill and I regularly walked the Columbia Gorge, Indian Heaven, and Mt Hood looking for challenging hikes, but now it seemed like little compensation.

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