Tamanos Mtn (Aug 9, 2014)

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tamanos_mtn_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS White River Park, USGS Chinook Pass
Area: Mt Rainier NP
Reference: Day Hiking Mount Rainier
Stats: 10.37mi, 3106' gain (round trip)

Another trip bites the dust :) Really...great trip. Beautiful day. It's been on my list to do this year and I finally managed a good day to tuck it in!

I really like these solo trips...and the early starts. I can go at my own pace. I usually have the summit to myself. I have lots of summit time alone. And...I often don't see people until the descent.

I was up early and on the road by 6am. It's not an especially long drive to this side of the park...no more than when I headed up to do Hannegan Peak last weekend. Still...it's been a warm (hot) summer and I wanted to get the elevation gain done early before it really got hot outside. I was at the trailhead (3743') by about 8:30am. There were a few cars parked there already but still plenty of room. I parked Gertie and then after putting my boots on and rechecking my gear I was headed up the trail a bit before 9am.

The trails in the park are awesome. Lots of HUGE trees, the trails are wide, and this one has lots of spring in it (easy on the feet). Gotta love that! The trail starts out low and does a series (6 to be exact) switchbacks up the north side of Tamanos Mtn. The trail is in really good shape. I did hit one downed tree though. Looked like it could have come smashing down overnight. I didn't see any evidence of boot prints around it and considering how easy it was to clean up, I'm guessing it fell overnight. When I first came upon it (1.95mi) I wasn't sure how to find my way around it but I pulled a few branches, a few became a few more, and after about 15 or 20 minutes, I had all the loose limbs cleared and thrown downhill. My good deed for the day :)

I continued uphill in the forest. The cool shade was welcome. I should mention there really are no views of Rainier along this trail. One is down in the drainage and Tamanos Mtn itself blocks views of the big mountain. The real treat on this hike is the forest itself and the meadows and lakes higher up.

After that final switchback (the 6th one) the trail does a long traverse on the east side of Tamanos Mtn. At 3.3mi (5257') I came across the junction for Tamanos Creek CG. I didn't even know there was a campground up here. Doesn't show up on the USGS maps. I could hear a bit of morning activity back in the CG. I continued up the trail and at about 3.8mi (5261', 9:50am) the trail popped out into the open and I was greeted with a view of Barrier Peak (the high point at the south end of Governors Ridge). The meadows were still a bit damp with dew. I hadn't yet seen another person...wonderful! I was hoping to see some bears near Owyhigh Lakes...but no luck today.

I knew there would be a boot path off the right side of the trail heading up towards Tamanos. Sure enough, at 4.31mi (5356') I found it. It's pretty visible and a pretty good boot path (not an official trail) heading up. I was expecting something more faint. The path first heads uphill due west, then at about 5740' it heads more northerly and heads up to the ridge gaining that ridge at about 6260' (4.97mi from the TH). The path was clear most of the way up to the ridge. I did lose it at about 6100' but one on the ridge, it was easy to find again.

As I approached the ridge the tip of Rainier came into view. With every step uphill a bit more popped out. I have to say this was one of the best introductions I've had to Rainier in a while. I stopped at the ridge, had a bit of a snack and then continued further up the ridge heading due north. The path stays on the ridge and it isn't until right before the high point that there is a bit of scrambling. I followed the path which took me up the bump right before the high point (5.25mi, 6705'). I dropped my pack at the first bump...there is a nice big flat spot, then dropped down about 20' to the west and there is a faint boot path through the rocks to the summit (6790').

Back at the first bump, it was time fore lunch...pizza. Still not another soul in sight. It was about 11:30am and I settled in for a nice long visit (I had the place to myself for 90 minutes). The views are just incredible...Cowlitz Chimneys, Sarvant Glacier and Banshee Peak, the big mountain, Goat Island Mtn, Burroughs Mtns in the distance, Governors Ridge and Barrier Peak. WOW! I snapped a bunch of photos and then reluctantly packed up to head back down. It wasn't until I was nearly back to the point I first gained the ridge that I was three other hikers.

It was a nice trip back down. Lots of time gawking at the hillsides painted with a faint blush of purple from the asters covering the meadows. I was back down to the main trail by about 1:15pm (30 minutes from the summit). I bumped into a nice volunteer ranger that was hiking the trail one way...Jim Milthouse (I think). He came in from the same TH as I did and was exiting out Kotsuck Creek to Hwy 123. We chatted for a while and then I continued my trip back to the trailhead.

Absolutely great day out :)
 
Tamanos Mountain Slideshow

tamanos_mtn_map

(click on map to view a larger version)

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