The Joy of Slow Hiking Mount Rainier


Today I slow hiked.

I don’t usually. If anything, I speed hike. Always driven to see what’s around the next corner, climb to the highest ridge, and find the next bit of beauty around the bend. Downhill for me has always been an invitation to speed up and run. After all, it doesn’t take much effort and if you are nimble you can bounce from one rock to the next with nary any trouble.

But today I learned the joy of slow hiking at Mount Rainier.

It began as any other hiking adventure. Packed lunches, picked up the guest, and headed out on the Burroughs Mountain Trail. But this guest was a little different. She was absolutely charmed by the mountain and stopped every ten feet to take photos. So my usual marching walk slowed. My purposeful hunt for the next corner became a meander and I began to stutter.

And what came next was beautiful.

In the slow moments, I began to hear the dull roar of the faraway river flowing from the base of the glacier, ever constant. I felt the slight brush of a cloud as it passed over us as if a ghost reached out and touched my arm. Brief, gentle.

I could feel my toes through my merino wool socks and sturdy hiking boots hit the ground. I could distinguish pebbles from rocks from dirt. A small poof of dust escaped beneath each slow foot fall.

The smell of fir, snow and wildflowers delighted my senses now that I was breathing slowly. I could hear the call of birds whereas before I could only hear my heartbeat ringing in my ears.


I wasn’t bent over my hiking poles as usual, so instead I looked up and found moss draped across the noble firs like tinsel draped on a Christmas tree.

Slow hiking was magical.

I felt the warm kiss of the sun upon my brow instead of the usual trickle of sweat running down my temples.

I hear laughter over the roar of the river. A group behind us is being bewitched by a fat chipmunk.

I hear, “Smile like the mountain is out,” carried down the trail as friends gather for a photo.

Yes, I think I like it slow. While waiting…breathing…being… a movement catches my eye and I see a fat, furry marmot grazing in the alpine tundra. I wouldn’t have noticed him before. Would have just blown right by, oblivious.

And over all of us; slow, fast and in between Mount Rainier watches us. Bemused no doubt by us. What’s the hurry? I’ll be here long after you’re gone, the mountain says.


Want to experience the joy of slow hiking Mount Rainier? Click below for our hiking adventures on Mount Rainier.

The Many Moods of Mount Rainier


Mount Rainier is moody. There’s just no other way to describe her. And yes, she’s a her. When I look at the mountain I just can’t see her as a he. Perhaps it’s the whole Mother Earth and Father Time thing.

When you go up on her flanks as often as we do, and see her each day standing as a sentinel, you start to develop a certain affinity and affection for her. The locals use her as a weather vane - is she out? Or is she hiding?

Does she have round, alien ship clouds floating above her indicating inclement weather on the way?

She’s tough and gritty, icy. A secure presence anchored in the Cascade range. She’s fickle and feisty, offering sun and warmth before cloaking you in her own blanket of clouds, mist and cold.

She’s a tease. Playing peak-a-boo in the clouds.

She’s hard. Taking lives from those that dare to challenge her. But offering triumph to those that are brave enough to try.

The stars in the heavens are her crown, the snow and ice coat her in diamonds and the foothills adorn her in emerald evergreens.

She’s constant. Always present, even as she hides among the clouds.

And we can’t help but love her. She was here long before us and she’ll be here long after we are gone.

Want to experience the mystery and magic of Mount Rainier? Click below for our hiking adventures on Mount Rainier.

Leave No Trace Principles

Leave No Trace Principles

It’s that time of year. The snow pack is melting and as winter slowly pulls back it’s white blanket covering the landscape, we can’t help but race forward to explore our favorite trails and see what new treasures they have to share with us.

The sunshine, warmth and longer days only further entice us into the woods to adventure and explore.

And each spring and summer, like a rite of passage, we revisit the seven Leave No Trace Principles and why they are important.

You’ve probably heard of Leave No Trace before. Or have seen it on a sad, rain stained poster at a trail head. But what actually is it? And what does it mean?

Adventures In Seattle follows the Leave No Trace seven principles. These are reviewed with guests during hiker orientation.

These are taken from Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics (

Plan Ahead and Prepare

·         Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.

·         Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.

·         Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.

·         Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.

·         Repackage food to minimize waste.

·         Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.


Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.

  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.

  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.

    • In popular areas:

      • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.

      • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.

      • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.

      • In pristine areas:

      • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.

      • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.


Dispose of Waste Properly

·         Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.

·         Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.

·         Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.

·         To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.


Leave What You Find

·         Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.

·         Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.

·         Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.

·         Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.


Minimize Campfire Impacts

·         Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.

·         Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.

·         Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.

·         Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.


Respect Wildlife

·         Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.

·         Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.

·         Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.

·         Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.

·         Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.


Be Considerate of Other Visitors

·         Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.

·         Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.

·         Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.

·         Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.

·         Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.



The bridge over the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trail beckons us.

The bridge over the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trail beckons us.

Our favorite hike in Washington

Washington has so many hikes to choose from but our all time favorite hike has to be the Three Burroughs Trail hike at Mount Rainier National Park. The trail is located on the North side of the park and actually follows along Burroughs Mountain, offering unparalleled views of Mount Rainier.

So why is it our favorite?

  • Unprecedented views of Mount Rainier

  • Mountain Goat Sightings (also possibility for Pika, bear, elk, and deer)

  • Challenging trail for adventurous souls

  • So. Many. Glaciers. to look at

For starters just the drive alone to reach Sunrise is worth the trip. Highway 410 travels down a corridor of evergreens along the Green River, whose headwaters stem from the glaciers on Mount Rainier. The road switchbacks further and further up the mountain until the overlook where on a clear day you can see Mount Adams to the South.

From the Second Burrough to the Third Burrough Hike at Mount Rainier

From the Second Burrough to the Third Burrough Hike at Mount Rainier

Once on the trail you can see Mount Baker and Glacier National Peak to the North. Where else can you see four of Washington’s five volcanoes on one hike?! As far as hikes near Seattle, this one puts all others to shame. Chances are high you’ll also see wildlife, with the resident Mountain Goat herd grazing the meadows below the trail.

Three Burroughs has options too unlike other Mount Rainier hikes. Feeling like a short hike, we stop at the first burrough. Feeling fit? We push on to the second burrough. And if you are a beast, we just keep on going past where all the tourists stop, to reach the third burrough and the most impressive views of Mount Rainier. From there we can spy climbers headed up to the summit.

And the route back is no slouch either. We take the loop trail back down below Sunrise with chances of mountain blueberries along the way.

That one time in a blizzard...

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I try to go on an adventure every year and the more exotic and remote the location, the better. I didn’t stumble upon these adventures on my own. I have help. From crazy friends. You know the ones, they usually were the ones that were a bad influence on you in college.

Anyway, my friend Erik had talked me into a taking a trip back to Mongolia to visit the reindeer herders. So in the heart of Mongolian summer I took a break from Adventures In Seattle and we traveled to the taiga to visit the Tsaatan Tribe in North Central Mongolia.

The trip took us on a flight from Ulaanbaatar to Moron. Then two days traveling across the steppe in a rusty, diesel van before we mounted up on horses and rode two days into the remote tribe.

It was magical. After we crested the mountain pass on our horses we descended into a lush, green valley dotted with wildflowers. Reindeer were everywhere! A handful of teepees dotted the valley, marking the homes of the 30 some families that remain. We spent a week learning to milk reindeer, care for them and ride them. Our afternoons were spent lazying in the summer sun by the small creek that gurgled and flowed through the valley.

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The reindeer were shedding their coats and we couldn’t help but pluck the soft tufts of loose fur from their backs. We were promptly chastised by the locals who informed us that such an act would bring about rain or worse. We scoffed at their superstition.

And then we woke up the next day - to snow. Not just any snow, but a full on blizzard. We huddled in our teepee as the horsemen prepared our mounts and then we headed up over the mountain pass and the worse of the snow. It was freezing. The horses had icicles hanging from their whiskers. The wind made it bone numbing cold. I was prepared with my layers but after 8 hours of being exposed, it still was barely enough.

After crossing a flooded river and nearly losing two of the horses, we were all wet and desperate. But one of us was even worse off. Our Mongolian translator was more of a city boy from Ulaanbaatar and had made the trip in a simple track suit. He had packed more hair cream than clothes. He was near hypothermia.

After a couple more hours we came upon an abandoned cabin. We immediately set up our tents INSIDE and started a fire. Our translator was not well and my comrades had little to offer.

However, after running Adventures In Seattle, I’ve trained to be prepared for anything - even in Mongolia (or more so because you are in Mongolia) and I had my emergency foil blanket as part of my gear. We stripped him down, tucked him in the blanket and stuffed him in a sleeping bag. We then lit a fire and dried our clothes.

It took a little while, but soon he warmed back up and returned to the land of the living! We all survived the summer blizzard and after crossing another flooded river the following day, we were able to return to the herders’ camp safely and then begin our journey back to civilization.

I share this story because it highlights the importance of the ten essentials. The ten essentials in the past referred to ten specific items for outdoor survival but it’s evolved now into more of a system of ten essentials. We always carry the following when we head out into the wilderness whether we are hiking near Seattle or in the vast steppe of Mongolia:

1.       Navigation – compass, detailed map of area, and GPS

2.       Hydration

3.       Nutrition - Adventures In Seattle provides lunch and high energy snacks

4.       Rain Gear and Insulation – Adventures In Seattle provides additional warm clothing in case of emergency

5.       Firestarter

6.       First Aid Kit

7.       Tools – Adventures In Seattle always carries knife

8.       Illumination – We provide headlamp and spare batteries to all guests

9.       Sun Protection – We carry sunscreen, min 30 SPF and requires all guests to bring sunglasses

10.   Shelter – We carry emergency space blanket