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Trip Report: Christmas Hammock Camping on Mount Rainier
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Trip Report: Christmas Hammock Camping on Mount Rainier

Trip Report: Christmas Hammock Camping on Mount Rainier

When: 12/25/2018
Location: Mt Rainier National Park
Conditions: ~35 degrees during day, ~24 at night.
Duration: 1.5 days
Difficulty: Easy
Kid Friendly: Yes
Pet Friendly: Yes
Usefull links: www.nps.gov | visitrainier.com

Mt Rainier National Park

The Full Report:
For Christmas, I decided to go for a snowshoeing / hammock camping trip in Mount Rainier National Park. I've lived in Portland for over one year now and still hadn't made my way up to see Rainier. So I thought, why not? I left Portland around 10:00pm on Christmas Eve and drove 2 hours to Elbe, WA. That night I got cozy in the front seat of my car and was positioned just a half hour away from the Longmire Visitor Center. In the winter there are only two entrances that allow access to the Park. Luckily, for those of us coming from Portland, one of these entrances is located in the Southwest corner of the park.

Mt Rainier National Park

I woke up around 7am and drove up to Longmire. This was during the government shutdown so there were no fees to enter the park (normally $30). The drive from the Park entrance to Longmire is wonderful. Glimpses of Rainier catch your eye through the trees and the road winds back and forth under the towering Douglas Firs as you begin to climb elevation. It is worth noting that the Park is very adamant on requiring all vehicles to carry tire chains while visiting the park. Plan ahead.

Mt Rainier National Park

While at Longmire, which is great you really should visit, I decided to hop onto the Wonderland Trail. It starts out with a subtle uphill then really flattens out as it parallels the Nisqually River. My plan was to snowshoe this portion but there simply wasn't enough snow cover to warrant them. I hiked up 1.6 miles to Cougar Rock Campground and soaked up some views of Mt. Rainier. The hike started out mostly white with a few scattered spots of green but as the sun rose over the ridge the hike back was mostly green and the white had turned to sparkling, dripping water. It was beautiful.

Mt Rainier National Park

In the winter you are not allowed to camp in the Park unless permitted, so I planned on other options. The Park is off limits, but the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is not. After hiking the morning away, I drove out of the park to Kernahan Road. Down this road, there are pull off camping spots (about 6 miles down) that are first come first serve free sites. I found one right along a river and set up my hammock and slack line to kill the afternoon.

Mt Rainier National Park

When it comes to winter hammock camping it's easier than you might expect. First, I string up my hammock. Then I hook up an under quilt (this is pretty mandatory to stay warm). Inside the hammock, I use an air pad specifically designed for hammocks. I wear plenty of layers, a liner for my sleeping bag and I sleep warm all night.

Mt Rainier National Park

I highly recommend a trip up to Longmire Visitor Center at any time of the year. It's very accessible and offers hiking for all abilities with stunning views. Get outside!

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