Knapsack Pass to Spray Park (Aug 12, 2017)

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knapsack_pass_to_spray_park_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Mowich Lake
Area: Mount Rainier National Park
Reference: Day Hiking Mount Rainier
Stats: 7.47mi, 2245' gain (round trip)

I've been itching to get back to Knapsack Pass. Ideally I wanted to do this trip on Sunday but the weather wasn't looking good. Saturday was the day to do it. JimK was game. The plan was to meet him at the Green Lake P&R and we'd carpool down to Mt Rainier from there. A few minutes down the road Steve called...he got the day for his scramble trip mixed up. His trip wasn't today (Saturday) but would be Sunday. So...JimK and I waited at the P&R for Steve to show up, then the three of us headed down to the park. We wanted to get to the Mowich Lake parking area early. Parking can be horrendous there is you arrive too lake. We arrived about 8:30am and found a spot in the main lot!

We sorted gear and then first headed off to the patrol cabin. The old (abandoned) trail leaves right from the cabin (4925'). We hiked up the cool forest first in dense trees, then through open meadows up to Knapsack Pass (1.63mi, 6178'). The meadows below the pass are a bit past prime for flowers but the color is still going strong. Lots and lots and lots of gentian is blooming. I don't think I've ever seen clusters of gentian as big as the are along our route.

We reached the pass and got the first views of Rainier. Visibility seemed better than it's been in a long time but...there was still smoke/haze in the air. From the pass we dropped down the other side of Knapsack Pass (steep/loose gravel at first) and then began a fun traverse over the boulder field. We easily picked up the trail on the other side of the boulders and then regained some lost elevation as we rounded Mt Pleasant (2.44mi, 6169'). We then dropped down into Spray Park to meet up with the Wonderland Trail (3.26mi, 6151'). We continued up the WT just a bit, to find a nice viewpoint and then headed back into the heart of Spray Park.

Lots of flowers still going in Spray Park. A few lupine and beargrass but we mostly say lots of magenta paintbrush, plenty of lousewort, and lots of light purple from the asters. We continued about 3/4 crossing through Spray Park (top to bottom) before reaching the end of the park at 4.36mi (5661'). Then it was time to head back into the forest for the last few miles back to the car. The stretch from the side trail to Spray Park to the Mowich Lake parking area is mostly uphill.

Really nice day.
Spray Park Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright 2013 Janet M. Putz
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