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John Guilford's Hikes

Sourdough Ridge/Dege Peak, Mt. Rainer N.P. on 1995-07-24

Date: 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 further view. 

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