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  • Dennis Kurtz

Trail Report: Mount Rainer National Forest

This week's Trail Report comes from Dennis Kurtz and his crazy explorations through Mount Rainer. You can find Dennis @yonderwashington and at

The Trail Report: This was our trip through Mount Rainier National Forest. Our destination was Mystic Lake which lies within Moraine Park on the North side of the mountain. Along the way we were able to stop at some incredible sights including Carbon Glacier and a suspension bridge that connects the east and west portions of the Wonderland Trail over Carbon River.

The total length of our journey ended up being 30 miles. We ascended around 4600 feet with approximately 2100 feet of decent along the way. Exact measurements weren’t recorded, as the GPS died after we crest the ridge at Moraine Park. Around the same time I blew out my knee but was determined to make it to the lake. Josh found a sturdy branch for me to limp with and after some words of encouragement we were off again.

This trail was by far the hardest of anything we had done thus far and nature hit us with everything it had. When we finally reached the lake to rest and eat, a flash thunderstorm swept through the valley. At first we thought it was ice breaking off a glacier in the distance but the rumbling kept getting louder until a torrential downpour ensued over our heads. Naturally, we left the raingear in the car so we booked it out of there before we could get hit by lightning.

With a bum knee, our travel time estimates eventually were skewed and nightfall hit fast. We knew we were on the homestretch but with a dead GPS and no flashlights, we weren’t 100% sure. Finally we reached Ipsut Creek so we knew we only had just 5 miles remaining. Using our poorly adjusted eyes and what was left of our feet and legs, we continued through the darkness. About three miles into the five, our last drop of water was consumed. All we could do was hope we were close to the trailhead where a case of water was waiting for us in the car…

An odd feeling came over us after we did finally reach the parking lot; it was pain and exhaustion accompanied by happiness and the sense of accomplishment of the journey we had just survived. We left at 6:30 am Monday morning and my head didn’t hit the pillow until 1:00 am Tuesday morning. When all was said and done, we calculated we were on the trail for over 14 hours.

Now, with such an incredible experience behind us and MANY lessons learned, come Monday of next week, we will be on another adventure once again!

#trailreport #Ihikebecause #stories #PNW