John Guilford's Hikes
Sourdough Ridge/Dege Peak, Mt. Rainer N.P. on 1995-07-24
Location: Sourdough Ridge/Dege Peak, Mt. Rainer N.P.
People: (including myself): Pam
My Alt. Real Alt.
Start: 4:10 6400 6400
Deges Peak: 5:15 7000 7006
Leave: 5:35 7020
Down: 6:30 6140
This is a hike out of Sunrise on the NE side of Mt. Rainier. The day was
cloudy over at Paradise and we went to Sunrise, in the rain shadow of
Mt. Rainer, hoping to find more sun, which we did. The access road comes
in from the east side on highway 410. The road points straight at
Mt. Rainier which gives an awesome spectacle as you approach it. It is
big. The road forks (with the other side going to the White River
Campground) and then switchbacks up the hillside gaining elevation. The
road does a final 180 around Sunrise Point, a scenic overlook, and then
heads west to end at Sunrise proper, which has a visitor center and a small
cafe there (with overpriced ice cream).
At the parking lot we were getting our gear together and changing into
hiking boots when a Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel (similar but slightly
larger than a chimpmunk) came to check us out (i.e. beg for food). The
little guy wasn't very meek as he came over and hopped into the car. "Hey
you! Get outta there!" was my reply. I was afraid he'd head to the back of
the car where our food was and that we'd have trouble getting rid of him,
but he left when I shook my foot at him. Pam thought it was pretty funny.
The trail is short - 2 miles one way, and for the most part traverses
Sourdough Ridge. Due to the heavy use these areas get, and to the slowness
of growth in the subalpine meadow, the National Parks make a big deal out
of staying on the existing paths and not traveling on the meadows. In the
past the meadows have suffered much damage and they are in the process of
trying to restore them.
The trail leads up from the visitor center before turning to traverse the
ridge. For the most part the trail traverses a bit below ridge line,
meeting ridge line in the low spots between minor peaks. The trail finally
meets a junction where the Sourdough Ridge trail continues down to Sunrise
Point with a side trail switchbacking up to Dege Peak. The day was sunny
with clouds developing off to the NW. T-shirt and shorts were fine for
most of the hike, though it got cold when the trail crossed the saddles in
the ridge and we got the chill air blowing up form the north side (over
snow). For most of the trail one overlooks alpine meadows across the
ridgeside (south) and views of Rainier promenant. We kept a look for
wildlife but didn't see much (besides birds). I did catch a very fleeting
glimps of a marmot near the trail junction, but it was gone before Pam
could see it. We did come across a deer on the way up Dege Peak near the
final saddle point.
Up at the summit it wasn't as cold as it had been down in the saddles,
though we did put on sweatshirts. Pam did her normal looking for Mountain
Goats and spotted some, pulling out the binoculars for a better look. Down
on the north side of the ridge, there were a small herd of 5 goats!
Unfortunately the goats disappeared behind a small stand of trees before I
got my camera out and then the building clouds obscurred them from any
On the return hike, we came across a ptarmigan who was taking a dust bath
in the trail. Just behind the ptarmigan was a deer, which we'd seen on the
hike up Dege Peak. The deer was pretty cooperative and let me get
relatively close and get some good photos before moving on. During our
traverse back to Sunrise the air was alterately clear (with overhead
clouds) and cloudy (when the clouds came over the ridge and enveloped us).
It was a local phenomena since we could see that it was still partly sunny
at the parking lot (visible over the meadows). We kept an eye out for the
marmot, but never did see him again. We did see a buck with very fuzzy
antlers near the meadow above the parking lot.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015