The mountain has a hat

In the last few months I’ve occasionally posted about Mount Rainier 50 miles to the south of where Barb and I live. Last year at this time we went camping and hiking on the mountain. Last Thursday went back to the same campground for more camping and hiking in Mount Rainier National Park. We returned home yesterday.

One of our big joys was to see Mount Rainier up close with a “hat’”: Over 30% of the pictures Barb took are of this “hat”. Although my percentage is lower I took 27 pictures of the mountain with its “hat”.


Here you can see the beginnings of a second “hat”:


Also of interest is that the picture above was taken with a 55 mm lens. This is essentially the same view as you see with your naked eye. The peak of the mountain is over six miles away.

And here we have the fully developed second “hat::


A “hat” forms fairly frequently but this was the first time we were in the park when it happened.

These pictures were taken on Friday as we were hiking the Mount Fremont Lookout Trail. The website says the trail starts at 6,400 feet elevation and we ascended 900 feet. But my GPS said the lookout was at 7,100 feet, not 7,300 feet:

Screenshot_20200731-112359_GPS status

Even at the parking lot at Sunrise Visitor Center the 6,400’ elevation was enough to nearly pop the bag of chips we brought:


There was at lot to see besides the “hat” on the mountain. We were high enough that even though it was the end of July we were could look down on patches of snow:



The pictures don’t do it justice but where the ice it met the water it was was incredibly blue:


The views included mountain range after mountain range that extended as far as you could see:



The lookout is in sight:



We ate lunch while at the lookup. The view was spectacular:


There was a chipmunk living inside the lookout which apparently was of the opinion that we should feed it:


If you click to see a higher resolution image, in the picture below you can see two trails. One is headed up over the ridge toward Mount Rainier and one is headed down into the valley to the right. In 2015 we hiked the one headed down. Someday we will probably come back and hike the one going over the ridge.


Here is more of the trail going down into the valley:


And to my left you can see more of the valley:


We were in the same campground, Ohanapecosh, this year as last but we had a different campsite. You can’t be very choosy because the campground reservations fill up shortly after they open nine months before your visit. We were still very pleased with what we got:


The tent site was far enough away from the road we had some privacy, the nearest neighbors were probably over 100 feet away, and the bathrooms and garbage dumpsters were directly across the road from us.

This is a good campground if you value isolation from other campers. Another campground we visited on Saturday, White River, was quite a bit closer to the Paradise and Sunrise visitor centers but the camp sites are much closer together and it’s close to a river with warning of floods, slides, and mud flows.

This will probably be our last extended visit to Mount Rainier for a while. We have hiked most of “the best” easy trails in the park. And we are thinking we will visit more of trails in the Olympic mountains before spending much more time on Mount Rainier.


10 thoughts on “The mountain has a hat

  1. Beautiful! It must be nice to get out and enjoy the outdoors and what an awesome place to go! Good for you!

    • My ex and I tried to find good places to hike in Missouri. When we asked around people gave us funny looks and didn’t really have any suggestions. We found a state park and a short trail. I think that was the first and last hike we attempted in the mid-west.

      My ex brother in law took us on a hike on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia and we hiked to the top of the nearest “mountain”. I have no words to describe my contempt for someone who would call that a mountain.

      • Some of them are, technically, mountains. They rise more than 1000′. Of course out West, that’s the beginnings of the foothills.

        But if you had to try to take a ox wagon over one, like the early settlers did, you’d call it other things, too. 😉

      • there’s some fairly decent hiking here in upstate Michigan, which i guess is technically the midwest. but yeah, it’s all pretty flat hiking, i’ll admit. then again, i’m uncertain if i’d want to spend very much time quite that close to an active stratovolcano, myself…

        • The active mountains in the Cascades are extremely well instrumented. We hear about it if any of the mountains has even a “tickly nose”. I’m certain an actual eruption would have warnings for weeks if not months. Landslides on the other hand…

  2. Sounds like a nice trip, Joe. The “hat” clouds are lenticulars, the cloud stays stationary, but the atmosphere is really blowing though them, cooling as it rises over the mountain to create condensation, which dissipates as the air then descends on the other side of the mountain.

    Sunrise is really beautiful, although often crowded. The Burroughs mountain trail is nice and gives you a close up view – I think you may have hiked it awhile ago. Berkeley Lake trail is also nice – and if you want to get adventurous, travel cross-country from Berkeley Lake trail to the end of Burroughs Mountain.

    Another spectacular trail – in wildflower season – is Spray Park on the NW corner of the park, starting from Mowich Lake.

  3. You’ll love the Olympics. I live in view of them and just got back from a hike there yesterday. It always feels to me like you’re even more isolated when hiking in the Olympics. Try the Dosewallips trail, Mt Constance, and Marmot pass for starters. A bit long of trail, but you get what you “pay” for. There’s even a crashed WW2 aircraft up there if you know where to look!

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