From Enumclaw drive 43 miles east on Highway 410 to the Mount Rainier National Park White River Entrance Station. Follow the Sunrise Road 17 miles to the large parking lot and visitor center at the roads end.
The Wild flowers are coming out in Berkeley Park and so are the Marmots
. So today Alex, Bonnie and I got an early start on the day leaving Seattle at 6:30. We were hopeful that we might get some of the early morning light...it is Sunrise after all.
This hike begins as so many do at the Sunrise Visitor center. One makes their way to the Sourdough Ridge and arrive at Frozen lake in about 30-40 minutes. From here go straight at the three way junction. The trail gently descends for about 20 minutes until you are ultimately delivered at another junction. This second junction either sends the hiker down into Berkeley Park and Grand Park beyond that, or up towards Skyscraper Mountain, and Mystic lake about 5 miles beyond.
Since wildflowers were high on the list we started off by descending down into Berkeley park. The wildflowers are just beginning to come out so they are not at their fullest. However, there are still quite a few wildflowers to demand your attention. As always with Berkeley Park you should consider your progress thought this area a slow one. The surroundings are just too nice to rush. On this day I particularly noticed the Berkeley Park creek - it was flowing fast and juxtaposed with the green surroundings is just beautiful.
We went down Berkeley park which takes maybe 45 minutes to where the creek meets the trail. Here we stopped, and noticed the mosquito's being sort of aggressive opted to return up Berkeley Park. Leaving the next destination up to Bonnie the decision was made to go to Skyscraper mountain rather than Fremont Lookout. Our thinking at the time was that we could hike to the Fremont Lookout on the way back.
Returning to the junction is quite nice. On the way back up I spied a Brown Marten running around. This was the first time I have seen a Marten - a member of the weasel family. The Marten was rummaging around though the flowers looking for something, but I wasn't quite sure what. It turns out what it was looking for was some vole or small rodent which I noticed it running off with and even managed to capture on a picture. Really quite a remarkable experience.
So we returned to the Berkeley Park - Skyscraper junction and started our ascent of the Western wall of Berkeley park to Skyscraper mountain. Again I was quite pleased about the grade of the trail, however, several small patches of snow remain on the trail. The largest of the snow fields is very near the Skyscraper saddle on the north facing slope. The snow field is about 100 feet across and is on a steep grade. Make sure you are confident in your footing, carry an ice ax, or choose the rocks above.
So making our way to Skyscraper saddle it was only natural to go up Skyscraper peak which is pretty steep 20 minutes gaining about 400 feet according to Bonnie. The trail isn't exactly an maintained trail and there is a lot of loose rocks along the way. Just watch your step nothing to be worried about. Getting tired on this rise I stopped several times along the way to take a couple pictures of Mt. Rainier. Alex on the other hand tried out his new mountain sized legs and lungs shooting to the top straight up Wasatch style.
We all arrived at the top finding we had the top all to ourselves. After a while another fellow showed up and went the western point of the peak. Next a couple from Yakima showed up with an infant who from the looks of it found Alex to be a very interesting buddy. We began our return when the screamer lived up to its name. Even when in the saddle could hear the screaming.
On my return to through the saddle I opted to walk on the rocks above the snow pack while Alex and Bonnie opted to return over the snow. The rocks were a little trickier than they look being pretty to their angle of repose, and rolling pretty easily. Guess either way you have to be cautious on this part of the trail.
So we again returned to the Berkeley Park junction and made our way back toward Frozen Lake. At the junction to Fremont lookout we all kinda decided to leave the Mt. Fremont Lookout for another week...which in fact I just did a couple days later.