Day 1: White Pass to Snow Lake (9.6 miles)
After a hearty breakfast at White River Campground we hit the road and drove about an hour to White Pass, to the southeast of Rainier National Park.
Hubby joined me on trail again, just like my first day out of Cascade Locks. We hit the trail just before 11 am and enjoyed a very gentle climb through montane forest with a few switchbacks to keep it interesting. A mile or so along the trail we passed the boundary marker for the William O. Douglas Wilderness.
After an hour or so of hiking we stopped for lunch at Sand Lake. It was a bit buggy but thankfully the breeze kept the worst of them down.
The next few miles featured lots of ponds and lakes, including some peek-a-boo views of Mt Rainier. We took another short break at Buesch Lake to fill up water and grab a snack. We also chatted briefly with a horse packing team. We saw a handful of other horseback riders along the trail that day. There’s quite a network of trails in the area and because it’s a designated Wilderness there’s no machinery to frighten the horses.
Our last mile of the day had us back into forest and felt longer than it was. Finally we got a view of Snow Lake, larger than others we’d seen. We skipped past the first campsite in the forest for a more open site above the lake. We enjoyed a rinse in the lake and a great view with our dinner.
These first 10 miles weren’t particularly remarkable, but the trail was well graded, easy to follow and had at least a handful of lakes and meadows to keep things interesting. I knew that getting through this section was just the gateway to a much more interesting area and many more Rainier views!