Talk about a cool assignment. I am part of a team of a dozen hikers working with cartographer Marc Rothmeyer on a brand new special series Green Trails Mount Rainier National Park Map. We have been busy this summer hiking all of the trails in the park and along the park's periphery tracking the routes and recording important waypoints. My assigned trails have been in the park's north central and far eastern reaches. So far this is some of the important info I can provide for you in regards to my field work (the rest you'll have to wait for the map!).
- Most of my mapped routes have been longer than previously thought/recorded. So, yes that hike you took last summer in the park may very well have felt longer than what you thought it was going to be because it was!
- Particularly the Laughingwater Trail-it is way longer than what most old maps say-and I knew that after hiking it three times. Actual distance of the trail from Trailhead to PCT is 9.3 miles not 7.3-that's a huge difference!
- The old trail to Sheep Lake from Three Lakes is long gone-nothing remains of it-well at least nothing anywhere near the Laughingwater Trail.
- The old trail from the Cougar Lakes to the PCT does exist and it is in remarkably good shape although you will have a hard time locating it from the PCT. From Cougar lake it is easy to follow and it'll cost you 2.2 miles and nearly a 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
- The Dewey Lake Trail from Dewey Lake to Mesatchee Creek is not 6.2 miles but 7.4 miles long!
- American Lake lies just .55 mile from the PCT
- Cougar Lakes from the PCT following the American Ridge and Cougar Lakes trail is 3.3 miles-much longer than what old maps state-there has been some rerouting over the years.
- Swamp Lake is just shy of a mile from the Cougar Lake-American Ridge Junction
- Dewey Lake to American Ridge via the PCT is not 3 miles like what old maps state-but 3.7 miles which is exactly what the park service's sign says. Hey they got that one right!
This great map will be available in the early spring of 2010. Visit Green Trails.com to learn more about it. We still have some serious mapping to do, so perhaps I'll see you on the trail. I'll be the guy with the gps, scribbled maps, and note pad in hand- (wait that could be one of many lost hikers out there!).