Granite Mountain.

Granite Mountain hike in the Pacific Northwest
Mt. Rainier!

Not sure what I was thinking when I decided to drag us up to the tippy top of this darn mountain! I've been following my fellow PNW outdoor adventures on a variety of social media platforms as of late and their pics had me super envious. Mountain tops, alpine lakes, rustic campsites surrounded by snow capped peaks...ugh! The wanderlust was BAD. I needed all of those things in my life STAT. I scoured the Washington Trails Association app and determined that this was best accomplished by hiking to Granite Mountain at sunset to capture the glory of it all. 

What I failed to realize was that this was an "expert" level hike with almost 4,000 feet in elevation gain. I'm not a numbers gal and didn't realize that 1,000 feet per mile = hella steep. Like butt burning steep. Like so steep that I might fall off of this god damn mountain steep. The trail started like any other but we quickly realized that this was going to be a dozy.
Switch backs through the woods opened up into avalanche shoots which then led to a killer alpine meadow. I'd never been that high up before and the unique scenery blew my mind. It was like we were on another planet! I had read that the fire lookout (our final destination) was a mile from the meadow and my eyes never left the horizon above. I needed that motivation to get me to the end, but there was nothing in sight. %$^&*#$! My legs were on F-I-R-E, sweat ran in a constant stream down my face and the sun was quickly setting. We finally made our way to the top of the meadow and there it was - the fire lookout - still what seemed like a million miles away. More swear words ensued. I just about threw my hiking poles and gave up right there. We'd never make it!

But the hubby jumped into Leslie's personal motivator and talked me up the rest of the way. I wish I could have enjoyed that last .5 miles to the top - it was a scramble over huge granite rocks - but we were busting our asses to catch the sun set. I'm happy to report that we did make it to the top on time though the altitude and sheer exhaustion made it hard to really enjoy what we saw. I also failed to remember how much I'm afraid of heights and spent my time hugging the structure's legs while quickly taking photos with my free arm. Yah, yah, self-proclaimed chicken right here.

We sipped on some celebratory beers and watched the sun set over the mountains and I tried to "be in the moment" but knew we had a long, dark trek back down this thing. Ugh. We strapped on our headlamps and off we went back down the mountain. Two and half hours of knee breaking downhill hiking landed us back in the parking lot just shy of midnight and we arrived home around 1 a.m. covered in sweat and dust. My romantical vision of this hike definitely did not come to fruition but it was a true lesson learned in what our hiking skills are!

What seems like the start of a normal trail.....
Into the alpine meadow!
Mosquito breeding grounds.
We made it!
To the east!
Sunset view from Granite Mountain
To the west!

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