As many of you know, my friend Lori and I are currently training to climb Mt Rainier at the end of July. I workout 4 days during the week doing a mix of TRX, yoga, spin class and HIIT training. On the weekends, I try to get one good hike in, progressively getting more and more challenging. Unfornately, things often come up and I’m not able to get out to the mountains as often as I would like. Case in point – Lake Serene. I’ve been trying to get up to the top of this trail since March and, after 3 attempts, finally made it two weeks ago.
Our first attempt to get to Lake Serene was the last weekend in March. At 7.2 miles round trip and 2000ft of elevation gain, we’re just starting to get into the more difficult (though not nearly as difficult as we need) terrain. Saturday was all blue skies and sunshine, but Sunday it’s quite a different story. Good thing we have rain coats.
The trail is almost entirely in the trees, with lots of little creeks to cross in the first 2 miles.
After a couple miles, the trail splits. Go right for half a mile and you get to the top of Bridal Veil Falls. Go left for 2 miles (not 12, like the sign appears to say), you get to Lake Serene. Many people do both, but our goal today is Lake Serene, so we stay left.
The path here is still pretty nice. Not too many rocks to trip over. My toes are grateful. If you think it looks like a lot, wait till you see the trail further up.
Crossing the bridge, you can see the falls through the trees from below.
Just around the corner, we come to more waterfalls.
The trail beyond the falls is much rougher and this is where the serious hiking starts.
About a quarter mile from the top, it starts to snow…hard. What is this?? Shenanigans!
As someone who has spent a lot of time learning rescue and survival skills for the mountains, I make the executive decision to turn around here. We’ve gotten the majority of the workout in, and nothing is worth getting injured and having to back out of Rainier for. As Ed Viesturs says, “Getting to the summit is optional, getting back down is not.”
Incredibly, the snow level drops almost a thousand feet in less than 30 minutes. Retracing our steps back down proves to be a bit tricky, but we manage to carefully and safely make our way back down. We arrive back at the trailhead completely soaked through and really cold. It’s a bummer we couldn’t get to the lake so we’ll have to leave this one on the list to try again later.