When you live in Seattle, you live close to some pretty amazing places. Mt. Rainier is one of Washington’s most stunning natural features with 369 square miles of hiking trails, scenic roads, campgrounds and rock climbing terrain. To get the most out of your trip from a cozy downtown apartment to the cool mountain air, however, it’s important that you bring some day trip essentials.
To help you pack for a beautiful day on Mt Rainier, we’ve compiled a list of eight simple must-haves to keep you comfortable and safe out in nature.
Weather Appropriate Clothing
While it may go without saying that you should bring a coat if you plan to be outdoors in snowy weather, it’s important to have the right clothing on hand when you’re spending extended periods of time outdoors. Weather can change quickly at high elevation, so knowing the weather beforehand and having an emergency poncho ready in the case of rain will keep you dry and comfortable. These are just a few clothing items you should take with you during typical hiking seasons (late May through September):
– A lightweight jacket
– Long-sleeve, moisture wicking shirt (for bugs and sun)
– Hiking shoes
– Quick-drying pants
– A hat (for sun and to stay warm in colder weather)
Perhaps you are feeling more adventurous and want to climb further up the mountain? Mt. Rainier is a glacier that is icy and cold, and hiking the mountain verges on the border of mountaineering. Crampons are another necessity if you plan on venturing up Mt. Rainier, and can keep you from slipping and sliding as you hike through ice and slush.
You’ll want to pick up a map either beforehand or at a ranger station, as reception for smartphones or other mobile devices can be spotty out in the middle of nature. You can also find hiking GPS systems built specifically for wilderness use. These devices have a much broader range of reception and can help keep track of where you are on a trail.
Though it may be old-fashioned, a compass isn’t a bad idea to have, either. Should you happen to wander away from the trail, it will help you get your bearings and a general sense of direction to find your way back.
You see it on every list for beach-going essentials, but in the mountains it’s no less important. Even when you’re hiking on a cloudy day, your skin is vulnerable to damage caused by radiation from the sun. To keep your skin happy and safe, be sure to bring some sunscreen in your daypack on your Seattle to Mt Rainier day trip.
Perhaps surprisingly, it’s even more important to have sunscreen on hand when snow is on the ground; those snowflakes reflect even more of the sun’s rays back at you. To avoid swollen lips and sunburn, apply sunscreen liberally to your face, hands and other exposed parts of your body. The tip of your ears, the bottom of your chin and the back of your neck are easy places to miss.
Flashlights and Headlamps
While it may be a romantic notion to hike under the stars where you can see the sky clearly, it’s a very good idea to have some light on hand regardless of whether you intend to hike during the day or night. Having light on hand could be a lifesaver if you find yourself away from the trail during darker hours of the day.
Headlamps are ideal for keeping your hands free while you hike or set up a meal when it’s dark out as well.
First Aid Supplies
While the thought of injury while out in nature can be a nerve wracking thought, it helps to be prepared for basic injuries. To avoid infection and general discomfort, you should be sure to carry bandaids and antiseptic supplies to handle small scratches. Many first aid kits available at the store will also include additional helpful items, such as ice packs, anti-itch creams, antiseptic wipes and gauze.
You also shouldn’t neglect any medications. Take your daily dose with you and also be mindful of allergies. Even if you don’t suffer from typical allergies from plants, if you have any susceptibility to insects or other problematic allergy sources, it’s best to be prepared.
Besides your day trip lunch, you should also take some snacks to keep your energy up as you hike. It may be tempting to bring some sugary treats or otherwise indulgent junk food, but these quick fixes won’t sustain you through the day. Nutrient bars (and granola) are a popular hiking snack with a vast variety of brands and flavors for you to pick something you like. Nuts and trail mixes can also provide protein and energy rich food to keep you going.
Bringing water isn’t really a question of “if” but “how much?” One general rule of thumb is two cups (about half a liter) for each hour of hiking you plan to do. Most bottles you can buy at the store hold about half a liter, so if you plan to tackle a longer trail, you may want to take along a more accommodating hiking water bottle or reservoir.
Another consideration for long hikes in areas where you know there will be water is water cleansing supplies. These days you can find hiking straws with filters built into them, but there are also cleansing tablets and other filtration systems that will give you a broader option of available drinking water while you’re on a mountain trail.
Everyone has their personal reasons for getting out of the house to enjoy nature. Be sure to bring that extra something to help you get the most out of your daytrip, whether it’s a camera, a journal for your thoughts or binoculars for bird watching.
If you like the idea of having a Seattle to Mt Rainier trip nearby for your next hiking adventure, you can check out some luxury Seattle condos at The Emerald to keep adventure at your door while living in downtown style.