A Foggy Hike to Glacier View
An Island In The Sky
To the west of Mt. Rainier lies Glacier View, a 5,450' peak which normally provides wonderful views of some of Rainier's magnificent glaciers. During our hike the weather was cloudy with fog, which prevented us from seeing much of anything in the distance. Upon reaching our destination, however, we were more than satisfied. It appeared as though we were on a ship, sailing through a sky of mist.
Hiking Through Glacier View Wilderness
It was a damp start for this hike. While not rainy, all around was fog and mist. Water droplets had condensed on all of the vegetation that lined either side of the trail and was transferred to us as we brushed by. Thankfully we dressed for the wet weather and were left none the worse for wear. While it would be easy to lament the lack of sunshine on this trip, we have grown to appreciate the damp weather that often accompanies these Pacific Northwest hikes. If it weren't for all this precipitation we wouldn't have this lush greenery to so admire.
The trail was damp and only had a few muddy spots. Since we were headed to the peak, most of the way to our destination was uphill. We were surrounded by forest and low brush but as we ascended, were flanked by older, larger trees. We soon began to see interesting types of fungus proliferating on fallen trees. There were large clusters of a coral type fungus, off white in color. Other fungi, tiny and bright orange and numerous mushrooms all around.
We found ourselves exiting the cover of the trees and a large monolith of rock was before us. Along the slopes leading to the top of this rock were a number of varieties of wildflowers. There was a path that circled up, halfway around that gave us some up close views of flowers. While up here we spotted another couple of hikers on the path below, but they soon turned around. We made our way back to the main path and took photos of the different flowers along the way. There were a couple of places adjacent to the path that probably held lovely views on a clearer day than this.
The landscape turned to more rock and lower vegetation. There was evidence of a campsite to the right of the trail, we didn't have far to go! The peak, while not flat, has enough room for a group to take a break and take in views. The sides are steep and the surrounding fog and clouds gave a false sense of security about how high we were. We were careful anyway and took photos of the mist swirling up the steep sides and out into the seeming oblivion of clouds that enshrouded us. The sun peeked out a few times while we were up there, but for the most part it was as though we were stranded on island of rock in the sky. Not scary or ominous, but serene and almost otherworldly.
We were up there perhaps 45 minutes, when members of another group began to appear one by one. We moved away from the peak to allow them to enjoy the rewards of their journey. We settled on sort of flat space of rock near one of the edges and had a bite to eat. Refreshed, we gathered up our things to began the trip back. We didn't stop as often for photos, and being mostly downhill, the trip back was quick.
While true, we had no glacier views as this destination clearly indicates by its name, we thought this was a great hike. The mist, fog and clouds added to, rather than taking away, from this trip. Sometimes getting so focused on the potential views ahead, it's easy to miss out on the views all around us. We've kind of grown to love this misty, damp PNW weather :)
Helpful Information for Hiking to Glacier View
Coordinates of Parking Lot: 46°47'47.4"N 121°56'52.0"W
Elevation Gain: 900'
Highest Point: 5,450'
Distance: 4.3 miles