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Carbon Glacier Bike and Hike (Mt Rainier Area)
Timestamp Free: 2017.11.22 - 04:11:42
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Cascade Range / Washington Cascades
  (1 days)
Participants: Lucas Earl
Difficulty: 2: Well graded road and trail to the Carbon Glacier. Old Desolate would require some route finding and scrambling (Class 2-3)
Bike and Hike to the Carbon Glacier, with an attempt at Old Desolate Mountain.
Note: Elevations and distances are given in both US and metric, as the park signs and maps use the customary system. The distances given may not match perfectly with the waypoints, as the former came from the Parks' Service website and the latter from my GPS.

Introduction

Weather: Sunny and warm with lenticular cloud over Rainier

The Carbon Glacier is the lowest terminating glacier in the lower 48 states, and is thus an attractive day trip since access to its snout is much easier than for many glaciers in Washington State. Its location in Mount Rainier National Park also means that trail access is well maintained throughout the year.

I was fortunate enough to spend much of the summer of 2013 in the city of Seattle for an internship, and so I did my best to take advantage of the hiking opportunities in the region. I had spent some time doing research once I arrived, and was intrigued at visiting a glacier that made it all the way down to 3600 ft (1097 m). Even though it was early June, the Saturday weather forecast looked good and I wanted a look at Washington's most voluminous glacier (Emmons Glacier, also on Rainier, is the largest by area). If time permitted, I also wanted to try summiting Old Desolate Mountain, which looked like it would give great views of Rainier, as well as the Carbon and Winthrop Glaciers.

Access
The Carbon Glacier trailhead is about and hour and 45 minutes from Seattle, so I got up bright and early Saturday morning and left at about 6 AM. There was some low cloud, so I didn't get a view of Rainier on the way in, but once I made it away from the coastal plain I broke into clear blue skies. The drive into the park is enjoyable, as you pass by the small town of Carbonado, as well as wind above the...

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