Day 7 was partially taken up with our descent from Lake of the Angels, partially taken up with our loitering at the trail head pondering what to do next and partially taken up driving toward Mt. Rainier. We stopped off at a hotel along the way as it was suspected that accommodations nearer Mt. Rainier would get more sparse and more expensive. The next day that suspicion was validated – everything near the park was sold out or very fancy. This also made sense once we got into the park and saw just how busy it was by midday.
We arrived at the White River entrance to Mt. Rainier around 8:30 and drove in. The initial plan was to do two hikes, so starting at the northern end of the park, we went to the White River Campground to hike toward Rainier on the Glacier Basin Trail. The trail is reportedly 7 miles round trip, but there wasn’t really an end destination, though looking it up on the map afterward, we went about 3.5 miles in, so I think we made it to the point we were supposed to. Much of the hike was along the White River which was fed by glacier melt from the Emmons Glacier which is the largest in the lower 48 states. We did see a team of five hiking along the glacier further up – and according to some person I overheard, hiking Rainier is relatively simple though being a multi-day event.
On our way out, there was a *huge* line of traffic coming in (as opposed to when we arrived where we just breezed through), but it’s possible they were limiting entrances to a specific count. We drove down to Paradise and the visitor center there. While the traffic was not backed up as much, it was still congested and the visitor center itself was absolutely packed, cars parked down the road for a mile or so. We accidentally got corralled through once and had to make a second loop and then snagged a spot in overflow parking so we could walk up to the visitor center.
We didn’t do any more hiking, we just browsed the visitor center and picked up a few souvenirs at the gift shop – magnets for Janet and a pint glass for me (I wish I had gotten a pint glass at Crater Lake, they had a very nice one). The traffic and looping around had burned more time than we expected, so we really only had an hour or two to spare given our expected drive out to Portland to fly home.
On the way to the airport, I forced Janet to go to a hole in the wall Korean restaurant (we were going to find a Vietnamese restaurant, but it was closed). It was highly reminiscent (for me) of Korea house where the kitchen was only vaguely separated from the dining area. I’m pretty sure the locals either considered it a dump, or a hipster haven, or both. The food was delicious. Afterward, we packed up our suitcases in a parking lot and dropped off anything we weren’t carrying back at a Salvation Army donation bin.