Last weekend we drove down to the Rainier Mountain Festival. The festival lasts for two days and features a big sale on new and used rental gear, presentations by world class climbers and hikers, a trail race, and much more!
Getting down to the festival was a bit of a commute. It should have been about a 2 hour drive down from the Seattle area, but Friday afternoon traffic was nasty and we drove through the Puyallup Fair area. All of this added about an hour to the drive. Taylor complained that she was going to be car sick the entire way, so we gave her a plastic bag and told her to suck it up. About 1/2 mile from the cabin we rented she decided it was time to puke and didn’t use her plastic bag. The joys of having kids.
We stayed at the Three Bears Lodge with our friends Trent and Michelle and their kids. The “lodge” was a nice little cabin just outside the Nisqually entrance of Mount Rainier National Park . It was the perfect size for the eight of us staying there (four adults, one teenager, three kids)
Saturday morning we went to the festival to check things out. There were lots of things to keep the kids entertained – inflatable slide and obstacle course, face painting, and rock climbing. Taylor really had never done any rock climbing before and really took to it.
At lunch time, they had a panel of climbers that had summited Mount Everest speak about their experiences. One interesting comment that stuck with me was that one group ate 10,000 calories a day and still managed to lose 11 pounds in a month!
In the afternoon, after ditching the kids back at the cabin, we went to a presentation on The Wonderland Trail. The trail is 93ish miles long with 22,000’ of elevation gain and goes all the way around Mount Rainier. We are planning to attempt this trail next summer, so this was perfect for us. The talk was given by Tami Asars who has just released a book – “Hiking the Wonderland Trail”. She was a great speaker – the presentation gave an overview on what to expect on the various sections of trail, a little bit about the permit process, and had lots and lots of photos. By the end of the talk we were all ready to go!
On Sunday, the adults all participated in a five mile trail race. The course was brutal – the trail was a one mile loop that you did five times (funny how the math works out like that). The first half mile of the loop was entirely uphill, while the second half was downhill. The total elevation gain for the race was just under 2000’. My average pace was 14:11 min/mile (right now my flat race pace is about 9 min/mile). Even with that horribly slow pace, I managed to get 2nd place in the men’s division and 4th place overall! Trent won the race, and we both got free stuff!
After the race, we relaxed for a bit before heading back to the cabin to clean up and head home.