A new adventure awaited me this past weekend. I had never been to any sort of camp before. When my hiking group decided to put together a gathering, I jumped at the chance. Camp Sheppard, near Crystal Mountain, was my destination. A perfect little hideaway nestled at the base of Mount Rainier. Here’s another Mount Rainier hike story, coming from a close friend of mine, Madison. This time, Laura, Nik, Christie, Antonio, Reid, and Nigel had planned a jovial weekend. This incredible crew of people had arranged a perfect hiker retreat with great hiking equipment. After months of anticipation, the day had finally arrived. I started on a four hour drive Friday night as soon as my shift ended. Upon my arrival I was greeted with smiling faces and handed a drink.
Our numbers grew as more members of our hiking group arrived. A bonfire was started, and libations were enjoyed. Someone had brought out balloons and an assortment of creations kept us entertained.
Laughter and shenanigans filled the night. Eventually we all retired to our bunks. Saturday morning was a bustle of activity as everyone ran around preparing for a fun filled day. A variety of hikes were available to choose from. I joined a party of sixteen others which had chosen to explore Bullion Basin. A smaller group of six went on an adventure to Crystal Lakes via Sourdough Gap. A third group, of thirteen, meandered their way up to Summerland. Most of my group headed out while Antonio and Levia finished preparing. Once loaded up in my little adventure-mobile, we headed off to meet up with the rest of our crew. Arriving at the Crystal Mountain ski resort we strapped on our packs and began our days adventure. Everyone met up, all were accounted for, and our guide took the lead.
The trail was relatively easy, and the incline was tolerable. Sparse underbrush, and towering trees were our views as we headed up. We came to an old mine, which I had to explore a smidgen, before turning back to catch up with the rest of my companions. A few miles in, we all took the chance to enjoy a break at Hen Skin lake.
The views paled in comparison to the fantastic company. Sun breaks were a welcome sight, rather than the rain which had been forecast. Back on the trail, our group became a little more scattered. Those of different hiking abilities banded together. Our trail continued on a steady incline. Not far beyond the lake, the panoramas began to expand.
Atop Bear Gap the vistas became spectacular. Distant peaks could be seen in every direction. Our group was complete as stragglers caught up.
Off we went again, north towards Bullion Basin. As we marched across the ridge phenomenal scenery kept stopping me in my tracks. More inclines had us questioning if there were any downhill spots along the trail.
As we came to a switchback, we took another break. More snacks, and splendid landscapes, kept us amused while we waited for our clan to be completed. Once we were all accounted for, we started to continue our slog up.
Eventually the miles of moderate incline came to an end atop a ridge. Expansive valleys laid at our feet. Mount Rainier stood proud in the distance. Clouds draped the formidable peak. A steady decline back to our vehicles was a much welcomed reprieve for all. Light hearted banter filled the time as we all headed back towards camp.
Our conclave returned to Camp Sheppard. Poo bags were scattered about upon our arrival. However, the contents of these were much better than the average poo bag, and made for a tasty treat.
A small assemblage of us relaxed in our bunk and enjoyed a menagerie of snacks and libations. Everyone fought over Rheas’ amazing apple pie moonshine. Kacie passed out her superb homemade body scrubs and bath salts. My stomach ached from laughing vigorously throughout the day. The remaining hikers began to arrive back at camp as a light drizzle began to fall. A scrumptious dinner buffet feast was prepared.
After everyone had filled their bellies, more entertainment ensued. Presentations from the American Alpine Club and the Mountaineers filled the evening.
A glorious bonfire was started and a crowd gathered around. Eva entertained the masses as she strummed a guitar and sang. The echos of our voices filled the air. An absolutely wonderful time was had before we retired to our abodes. A handful of those residing in the same bunk as I remained outside with a small campfire. Eva once again kept us enthralled with her magical music. The night was concluded as she and Nik serenaded us with a duet.Rains welcomed us Sunday morning. A breakfast feast was devoured, the camp was cleaned up, and we all said our goodbyes.
A most amazing weekend came to an end as I drove home. A memorable time spent with some of the most amazing, adventurous, and talented folks that I have ever met will not be soon forgotten.