Mt. Ararat (Jul 14, 2012)

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mt_ararat_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Mt Rainier West
Area: Mount Rainier NP (Paradise)
Reference: 50 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park
Stats: 12.6mi, 3936' gain (round trip), 5hrs up, 3h40m down

Mt Ararat was on my hit list for a while. I tried it as a snowshoe in early Dec-2010 and we made it to the viewpoint about 4 miles in. We bailed on that trip due to slow progress and unconsolidated snow.

Today, thunderstorms were the concern. I hoped and early start would help us beat the storm. We need not have worried. Some small thunderheads did develop and we did hear two very distant booms, but we had bomber weather.

Trail starts at the Kautz Creek parking area. Cross the street and walk a flat trail (old road?) for a mile before the trail crosses the braided Kautz Creek and then heads into the deep woods on the other side and heads up...and I mean UP (1.1mi, 2610')! It's about 3.5 miles and 2450' gain from the creek crossing to the first viewpoint (4.6mi, 5060'). Boy this trail doesn't cut you any slack but then maybe the warm temps and humidity took their toll. It was pretty humid even in the shade of the tree but thank goodness for those trees!

LOTS of pinesap out at just over 2.25mi.

We hit the first snow before the viewpoint at about 4.2mi in. It was hard to tell if it would be consistent the rest of the way. The snow is really well consolidated so we continued on, being careful with the route finding. Good news, the snow stopped after about a bit over 1/2 mile. Then it was back to dirt. There was an occasional patch after that but it was pretty easy to follow. Another big patch of snow north of Pt5334 but again, taking our time with the navigation and we were fine. It was here that we bumped into Donnie (aka "backcountry"). He left the TH lot shortly after us and passed us down low near the creek. We decided to stick together as a group. Eventually the snow petered out again and it was one last steep push on the trail until we were nearly due east of Mt Ararat. Finding a more gentle solid snow covered grade we made our way to the top and awesome views of Mt Rainier.

It took us some time to get to Ararat so after only about 20 minutes Gwen and I decided to head down. It was easier going down...we had our tracks to follow.

Lots and lots and lots of avalanche lilies are blooming high up. I've never hiked and area and seen so many. Indian Henry's was still under a bunch of snow but I bet the flower show there will be going in another 4 weeks or so.

Don't even think about continuing on past the viewpoint unless you are confident of your route finding skills on snow. That or give it a another few weeks to finish melting out.
Mt Ararat Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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