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Mount Rainier National Park, WA

Sep 4 - Sep 11, 2021 -- $1350 ★★★★

The beauty of Mt. Rainier National Park will leave you speechless. Whether it's the alpine lakes, temperate rainforest full of ancient conifers, charismatic megafauna, redolent lupines and other wildflowers, active glaciers, wild berry picking, or the massive monolithic mountain itself, Mt. Rainier is simply awe-inspiring.

Mt. Rainier National Park awards only 5 commercial backpacking permits every year. Fatpacking has been awarded one of them, so this is one of your few chances to participate in a guided backpacking trip to this destination.

This trip will traverse a Northern portion of the park on trails that are seldom traveed. On our 6-day hike, we may encounter elk, deer, eagles, pikas, black bear, mountain goats and marmots with a backdrop of incredible sweeping vistas and even an active glacier, Carbon Glacier. Experience the timeless wonder of Mt. Rainier with us during the fleeting, relatively dry and bug free temperate season.

Our journey will begin in the Northeast of the park at White River Campground. We’ll quickly leave civilization behind as we head up to Glacier Basin. The perpetually snowy Rainier summit will be our constant companion to the South as we head up to the Northern Loop Trail by Berkeley Park and Lake James before dropping down to Carbon Glacier. We'll cross a suspension bridge (an engineering marvel) to Carbon River Campsite before continuing on to Old Growth at Ipsut Creek and finishing and breathtaking Mowich Lake.


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Expect daytime hiking temperatures in the 60s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s. However, be prepared for the possibility of overnight temperatures as low as the 20s. During the 2008 trip, we woke up to several inches of snow on September 1st. By the afternoon however, it had all melted and by September 2nd (the next day) we were swimming in an alpine lake (although not for very long).

View 7 day weather forecast

Probable Trip Leaders

Chris Frey
Holly Chambers


$1350 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the 2 hotel nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Seattle / Sea-Tac (SEA), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 2 hotel nights, 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation, Park entrance fees, National Park permits, GPS, and 2 awesome guides.

Important Notes

Although we are allowed a group size of up to 12, the National Park is concerned about campsite crowding and strongly prefers us to have only 6 tents. This means that if our group size exceeds 6, they'd prefer us to start doubling up in tents. Another alternative is require that each participant's tent is small and for one person only in order to fit into campsite boundaries.

In 2020, the park relaxed this requirement due to Covid and may continue to do so in 2021. You are still encouraged to double up even though this forced closeness can be less pleasant, but it does make pack weight lighter and was not a problem at all on the 2015 or 2019 trips. Expect a ranger to check up on the group some time during the trip to make sure we're adhering to Leave No Trace and Park Regulations.

Mt. Rainier is one of Fatpacking's more difficult, advanced, and rewarding trips. Daily hiking distances are moderate and the terrain is well groomed and well maintained, however very little of it is level. Most days are spent either ascending or descending thousands of feet, sometimes both. Furthermore, the mountain "makes its own weather" meaning that there could be high winds, rain or even snow at any time. Of course, it could also be sunny and crystal clear. And then there are the blueberries...

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
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Saturday, September 4, 2021

Fly into Seattle (SEA). The best arrival time is between 12PM - 3PM, but if you can save a significant amount of money by arriving a little before or after, you should do so.

Take free airport shuttle to local hotel Coast Gateway Hotel, 18415 International Blvd, SeaTac, WA, 98188, (206) 248-8200

Equipment shakedown. We go through your pack and examine everything you brought.

Go to REI Tukwila to pick up any equipment participants forgot

"Before" body composition measurements taken

Body temperature taken to check for possible Covid fever

Trail mix distribution

Go out for opening dinner, review trip orientation (cost of dinner not included in trip cost)

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Second set of "before" measurements taken

Free hotel breakfast

All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage.

Shuttle to Mt. Rainier National Park, Sunrise Ranger Station, picking up backcountry permits at the North Entrance Station (White River)

Begin hiking at White River, elevation 4400'

Hike 0.9 miles on the Glacier Basin Trail to the Emmons Moraine Trail, elevation 4750'

Drop Packs and Day-Hike 2.0 round trip miles to Emmons Moraine, elevation 5250'

Hike 2.1 miles to the Glacier Basin Campsite, elevation 5950'

Camp at Glacier Basin Campsite, elevation 5950'

Miles today: 5.0. Total miles: 5.0

Possible bailout: White River

Monday, September 6, 2021

Hike 0.6 miles to the Burroughs Mountain Trail, elevation 5500'

Hike 3.2 miles tough uphill miles on the Burroughs Mountain Trail over Second Burroughs (7402') and subsequently First Burroughs (7106') to the Wonderland Trail, elevation 6750'

Hike 0.7 miles to the Northern Loop Trail, elevation 6800'

Hike 1.2 miles on the Northern Loop Trail to Berkely Park Campsite, elevation 5375'

Camp at Berkeley Park Campsite, elevation 5375'

Miles today: 5.7. Total miles: 10.7

Possible bailout: Sunrise

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Hike 8.8 miles to James Lake Camp, elevation 4620'

Camp at James Lake Camp, elevation 4620'.

Miles today: 8.8. Total miles: 19.5

Possible bailout: Sunrise, but it's pretty far

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Hike about 1.4 uphill miles to Windy Gap, elevation 5800'

Start a long downhill hike, 3.9 miles to the Carbon River, elevation 2900'

Hike 1.1 uphill miles on the Wonderland Trail to a suspension bridge, elevation 3195'

Cross the suspension bridge with views of Carbon Glacier to get to Carbon River Camp, elevation 3195'.

Hike 1.8 uphill miles on the Spray Park Trail to Cataract Valley, elevation 4900''

Camp at Cataract Valley Camp, elevation 4900'

Miles today: 8.2. Total miles: 27.7

Possible bailout: No ideal options. Ipsut Creek possible

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Hike 1.8 downhill miles on the Spray Park Trail to the suspension bridge, elevation 3195'

Re-cross the suspension bridge and hike 1.1 downhill miles on the Wonderland Trail to the Northern Loop trail, elevation 2900'

Hike 2.5 miles on the Wonderland Trail to Ipsut Creek Camp, elevation 2350’

Camp at Ipsut Creek Campsite, elevation 2350'

Miles today: 5.4. Total miles: 33.3

Possible bailout: Carbon Trailhead

Friday, September 10, 2021

Hike 4.3 uphill miles on the Wonderland Trail to Ipsut Pass, elevation 5460'

Hike 1.0 downhill miles on the Wonderland Trail to Mowich Lake, elevation 4929'

End of hiking

Miles today: 5.3. Total miles: 38.6

Possible bailout: Mowich

Shuttle back to Seattle and check into local hotel Coast Gateway Hotel, 18415 International Blvd, SeaTac, WA, 98188, (206) 248-8200

"After" measurements taken

Dinner and awards Ceremony (Dinner cost not included in trip cost)

This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Free Hotel Breakfast

Free airport shuttle

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