Exploring Mt. Rainier National Park

20160426_160305(Did you know it’s the Centennial Celebration of the National Parks? It is! The National Parks Service is officially celebrating their 100th birthday on August 25th. I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and plan on doing a whole bunch of National Park posts this month. Check out my last posts about Rocky MountainArches, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley. Next up is this one, Mt. Rainier National Park….)

Back in April, Ben, myself and a friend of ours, took a journey to Washington. It was a trip to combine many different things: a half marathon for me, my Grandpa’s Memorial service, family time, vacation and some Mt. Rainier fun.

Photo Credit: My aunt Bambi that lives out in Washington.

Photo Credit: My Aunt Bambi that lives out in Washington.

Ben and his friend Matt had plans to climb Mt. Rainier. I had no desire (yet) to do this climb, let alone the route they chose, but went with them to the National Park. I was their communication to family and friends via the internet while they climbed. While their climb is their story to tell, this left me with a lot of free time to explore Mt. Rainier National Park, or at least the parts of it that were open in late April.

Ben and Matt started toward the summit from the Paradise parking lot. This is on the South side of the big mountain. During the winter months, a majority of the roads and entrances to Mt. Rainier are closed due to snow. Winter in this area can extend into June, we were told. We were visiting right as lot of the snow was melting, but that still only left one entrance open to get to paradise, through the town of Ashford.

Ben and Matt starting their climb.

Ben and Matt starting their climb.

After waving good-bye as they started their journey, I doddled, trying to figure out what to do and see. I don’t mind doing stuff by myself, but having company on adventures is always more fun, in my opinion. Not letting being alone stop me, I studied the map for some trails I could explore. Not a lot was open but I had driven past a couple of signs for waterfalls, and thought, “I should start there!”

Leaving Paradise, as I drove down the road, I first came across Narada Falls. At first, when you look over the edge of the parking lot you can see the fast-moving river and the side of a massively wide waterfall. There’s a trail you can take to the view-point down below. I started and was thwarted by a massive wall of snow, waist-high that came right up to the guard rail. I was super bummed as another lone-hiker came. I watched him hop right up on top of the snow and defeat this obstacle (why didn’t I think of that). So, I followed!

The trail-blocked with snow

The trail-blocked with snow

 

After getting over the snow, I realized that was the only part of the trail that was difficult. The rest was snowed on and a little slippery, but was manageable. The other traveler was in town on business and decided to journey into the park for a quick trip. We helped each other take pictures, then went about our ways.

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Next up was Christine Falls. Just a quick drive further down the road and I was there. I hopped out of the car and took in the beautiful view. There was a trail that takes you up about the falls, but I was going to save that for the next day.

When traveling by yourself, you take a lot of selfies!

When traveling by yourself, you take a lot of selfies!

After getting some rest, trying local restaurants (dinner the night before and breakfast), then talking to the rangers, day two brought some more exploring.

I drove back into the park (stopping at every view-point along the way) and did the short, flat historical hike called the “Trail of Shadows”. I learned all about the town of Longmire (a health destination in the late 1800’s for people to cure all that ails them by soaking in the once hot springs and using medicine from the native plants nearby).

View from the trail, through the trees you can see Mt. Rainier.

View from the trail, through the trees you can see Mt. Rainier.

Then I drove my way up the road again to hike the trail behind Christine Falls with the destination Comet Falls in mind. The ranger did warn me that he didn’t think the trail was passable, but I decided to try it anyway, because I’m like that.

I made it about 1.5, maybe 2 miles at the most, before the trail was blocked by a steep snow slid (see picture). With better shoes and an ice ax or walking pole, I probably would have attempted it. But looking at the bottom of the slope and my trails shoes, I opted to skip it; envisioning myself sledding on my butt to the icy river some 100 ft down. No thank you!

What I would have had to hike over to get to Comet Falls.

What I would have had to hike over to get to Comet Falls. Would you do it?

The rest of my day was spent at Paradise, staring at the slope, looking for my boyfriend to return, terrified, not knowing they were staying one more night on the mountain due to weather. That’s a whole different story filled with worry, a lot of tears and looking for a hotel at 11pm.

Top of Christine Falls

Top of Christine Falls

Getting there:

  • Looks like the only way to enter during winter is from the south/west side of the park where we did, through Asford; the snow leaving all other road impassable.
  • There are THREE total entrances during the summer. We only got to see this part of the park.
  • Mt. Rainier Website

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Tips:

  • Best time to visit: Summer – Temperatures are great, roads are open and trails are passable. (Unless you’re a mountaineer, then consult mountaineering books to find out when the best time is to visit.)
  • Skiers and Snowboards: this is a magical place! You can hike up and ski down; I wish I had brought my board!

We can’t wait to go back!

Oh, by the way; the boys made it to the summit, safe and sound (and back down again)!

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Is it seriously JULY!?! (Updates)

I cannot believe it’s been over a month since I’ve last posted!

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I’ve even gotten a few new followers during that dead time. To those of you, Welcome! I swear, I do actually write a blog. Ideally, I would like to post at least once a week, and if I had time, more often. If you’re new, I write about all things running related: my training, my work (I’m a personal trainer, coach and group ex instructor), race recaps, group runs, places to run (in the Colorado area), book reviews on running, movies on running, traveling (when I do actually get to travel, hence the name “Racing the States”), and the occasional zombie topic (that’s not a joke. I love zombies).

Um, where to start…..where… to… start…that’s the question….

How about right from where I last left off.

My last post was my Bolder Boulder Recap….and so much has happened since that post (or even that race!) The Bolder Boulder actually took place on May 26 and I didn’t post about it until June 9th. Before that, I had updated you on my crazy life circumstances.  You can update yourself HERE if feel so inclined.

Since that month and race, I’ve done so much (running related) things it’s ridiculous. And a lot of non-running related things as well.

images-2Running Updates:

The weekend after the Bolder Boulder, I took the Track and Field Level I Coaches Certification class. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot. Finally, as in yesterday, I sat down and took my test and passed! I am officially a Level I Track & Field Certified Coach!!

Then I did the Ragnar Trail Relay (I actually have MOST of that blog post written, I just haven’t finished the last little bit. You can expect to see that soon).

10351893_699423573426033_2397878816282477511_nThe weekend after that, I did the Father’s Day  Classic with 3W Races….where I took 3rd overall Female!!! WOOT!

The weekend after THAT, I was the warm-up trainer from the gym I work at for a different local racing company called All-Out Multisport. That was a flop. No one wanted to warm up with me. I kind of expected this because if you are like me, you already have your own warm up routine or you don’t warm up before races. That’s how the running community is. That’s what we do. Their concept of wanting a warm up trainer at all of their events is foreign to me, but I still will do it (as long as I’m working at this gym) because it could possibly open up business opportunities for me.

I also did my first double-digit run for marathon training that weekend (yes, I am marathon training. There’s a few reasons I haven’t written about it; one being that I don’t want to psych myself out about it – and I probably just jinxed myself). I actually had lovely company with a special friend for this sunset run, followed by delicious homemade food and hot tub. A lovely running date, if you ask me! (HINT: If you want to date a runner, this would be a WONDERFUL date idea!)

Olympian, Kara Goucher and myself

Olympian, Kara Goucher and myself

I attended a few Run Groups in the last month (the Boulder Running Company Wednesday nights and Bentgate Run Club in Golden Tuesday nights) where I saw Kara Goucher and Scott Jurek speak! I even got to run with Kara ….. for about a block until she passed me! And I spoke with Scott Jurek about his upcoming races and told him that I met him when he wasn’t looking so hot at last year’s Leadville 100 when I was volunteering. I used to own his book, but I had lent it out to a friend and never got it back. I wish I had it for him to sign! DANG IT!

And after that, the next weekend, I ran two races and did a pub crawl. The first race being with 3W, the Neighborhood fun run on saturday. Followed by the Surf’s Up Pub Crawl in Denver where I was one of the group leaders. It was a total blast! Then on Sunday, I randomly decided to run the Heart and Sole 10K in Boulder, CO….where I achieved a new PR (my last one being two years old). Since I am indeed marathon training, I needed more miles, so I found some company to get five more miles in. All followed up by pool party!

Somewhere in there, I got some outdoor climbing in! YAY! Love climbing!

IMG_0200 2That now brings us to the most recently passed weekend, 4th of July weekend. I spent four days in Snowmass, Colorado working for Kashi at the Wanderlust Festival. If you haven’t heard of Wanderlust, you should definitely check it out. It’s a yoga/outdoor activity/music festival. I mostly worked and didn’t get to participate in any of the yoga stuff, but definitely a fun experience. I got to go hiking, running, and enjoy free concerts all weekend in addition to making money!

And my last, but not least, running related event took place yesterday. I did the Westminster Road Runner Sport’s Adventure Run. It you have one of these in your area, you should definitely check it out! For one, it’s free. Two, simply, it’s a blast! You get a map emailed to you right at race time (or at the event, they hold up a map), and you run to as many check points as you can to get raffle tickets. At the end, you place all your raffle tickets in the bucket and they raffle off tons of prizes! It was a lot of fun, and I got in about 5.25 miles. With stopping at the check points, it was almost like an interval run!

You can expect write ups on each of those events. Duh.

Career Updates:

I am still working at Prestige Fitness, but only barely. Being a personal trainer in the summer is hard!! I’m really having trouble establishing a client base. I am working hard at it, but it’s just not paying the bills, hence why I take random jobs like working for Kashi for a weekend.

There’s been a lot going on with that, I’m really re-thinking what I want to do/be when I grow up… and when your boss tells you “to doll yourself up” to sell training, you may re-think being a trainer as well. That elicited a lengthy debate on my Facebook page!

I have a lot of moral dilemmas pushing people hard to spend money on something so expensive, even though a lot of them need the help health wise. There’s got to be a better way! Before I get too involved in that topic, I’ll move on…

I am still at the City of Golden teaching a handful of group exercise classes, and I am hoping to get on board again this year and help coach cross-country.

Other than that, I still pick up random promo gigs (like the Kashi thing), and I’m thinking about other things (like teaching…maybe!) for the future.

Yes, having summers off is persuading the possible teaching career. No joke.

Yes, having summers off is persuading the possible teaching career. No joke.

Personal-ish life updates:

Just kidding! I’m not going to write about that here. You can check out my dating blog for more info on that…..JUST KIDDING, I don’t write a dating blog, but if I did, you would get lots of laughs! I would call it….”Chronicles of: Just how many frogs DO I have to kiss before one turns into a prince!” Is that too long of a title?

What’s up next? This weekend I need to get in a 14-ish mile run at some point, but other than that, I have no official plans! Which is a WONDERFUL feeling, let me tell you! This is a first for a really long time. Maybe I’ll climb, maybe I’ll try SUPing, or maybe I’ll just sleep all weekend!  My next race coming up will be with 3W and its the Prairie Dog Half! Unless I decide to run another random one.

 Your turn: What have YOU all been up to??? (I do actually read your blogs, but for those of you that I have yet to discover, let me know)!