Completely Alone on Mt. Rainier’s Northern Loop

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   13 Comments

By Michael Lanza

“There’s absolutely no one out here.”

I was just a few hours into a solo backpacking trip around Mt. Rainier National Park’s 32.8-mile Northern Loop when that realization hit me. It was a cool, clear day in October 2003. None of my usual hiking partners had been available to join me. So I decided to do the trip alone, something I’ve done more times than I could count and felt comfortable with. I had no idea that this time I’d face the kind of situation that solo hikers think about but can never anticipate: a threat that shrinks the margin of safety in the wilderness down to nothing.

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13 Responses to Completely Alone on Mt. Rainier’s Northern Loop

  1. Steve   |  October 19, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Wow, a beautiful read. I have been plugging into this site for about a year, even though I’m a British and will likely never make it to a fraction of the places you describe. To my mind you are the American Chris Townsend, one of our finest writer-hikers. You certainly brought this to life. Thanks.

  2. David   |  October 19, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Well done Mike!

  3. Pam   |  July 26, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Great story! You’re a wonderful writer and convey both the beauty and risk eloquently!

  4. sierracanon   |  October 6, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Did you start at Carbon River?? Clearly you went clockwise, and sent past Sunrise, going from Berkeley Park to Mystic.

    • michaellanza   |  October 6, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Hi Sierra, yes, I hiked a clockwise loop from the Carbon River trailhead (this was before the Carbon River Road was permanently closed, after a similar but more destructive storm in November 2006).

      • sierracanon   |  October 6, 2015 at 4:54 pm

        I made my first trip to Rainier this past summer, and fell in love. I did the loop through Spray Park and back up over Ipsut Pass…. with a side trip up to Yellowstone Cliffs camp. A evening hike up to Windy Gap was the highlight of the trip. So the Northern Loop is on my menu for next summer.

        • michaellanza   |  October 6, 2015 at 6:36 pm

          Good choice, you’ll like it. Try to camp at Mystic Lake and hope for a clear morning or evening view of Rainier.

  5. Kenny Ross   |  October 5, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Forget the coffee, forget the workout, this read is how you should start the day!

    • michaellanza   |  October 5, 2015 at 10:14 am

      Thanks Kenny, glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Carl Gandolfo   |  October 5, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Great read and experience – glad you were able to write about it!!

    • michaellanza   |  October 5, 2015 at 7:05 am

      Thanks Carl, I’m glad I came out and was able to write about it, too.

  7. Pingback: Photo Gallery: Backpacking at Mount Rainier National Park | The Big Outside

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