– Ben Martens

Hiking Crystal Mountain

My parents were out over Labor Day for their annual visit. I’ll have a couple posts about our activities from the weekend, and this first one is about our trip to Crystal Mountain. I don’t get down there in the summer very often since we usually drive past and head to Rainier.

After a delicious breakfast at the Brown Bag Café in Kirkland, we headed to the mountain and purchased tickets for a gondola ride. The ride up was beautiful and the skies were perfectly blue. Mt. Rainier was there in all it’s glory. We paused at the top for a while to marvel in the view and for me to attempt another panorama. I attempted this one at maximum zoom which is more difficult, and it didn’t come out very well. There were quite a few gaps where I didn’t overlap the pictures properly. You can view it on the Photosynth site. While the overall image isn’t that great, it is pretty neat to see how far you can zoom in. I also added a marker (look on the right side of the page for the link) to the Mount Freemont Fire Lookout. I hiked there with my parents years ago and earlier this year with Tyla.

We decided to hike our way down heading around the backside of the gondola, under Powder Bowl, across Bear Pits, under the Forest Queen lift, along the southback border, and then over to Gold Hills and down to the base. Its somewhere between 5 and 6 miles and 2400 feet down. It’s a wonderful hike that shows a lot of different parts of Crystal. You start off with great views of the mountain, then go along some steep open hillsides, pass by a lake, and then walk through an old growth forest complete with an old gold mine.

As we were nearing the end of our hike, I spotted a couple up ahead that looked familiar. It was my cousin Jared and his wife Gayla. They live over in Moses Lake! We had no idea they were going to be at Crystal and the odds of bumping into them in such a huge area are astronomical. They were staying the night and having dinner at the Summit House. They must have had a wonderful view with the sun setting behind Rainier while they ate!

Kudos to Mom who did this all on a healing broken toe! Photos are posted in the photo gallery.