48 Hours Camping Near Mt. Rainier – In the Rain

Editor’s Note: Technically this trip was longer than 48 hours, but given rain delays…

Recently Chad and I joined our friends Crystal and Troy for a camping trip to Taidnapam Park on Riffe Lake just southwest of Mount Rainier. We took advantage of the Labor Day weekend to escape to the mountains once last time before summer ended. We were excited to finish strong with some summer boating, swimming, roasting of the quintessential s’mores over a campfire, while toasting our toes near the open flames. But with the summer drought which caused the lake to be low and the boat launch to be closed, a burn ban in effect only in Lewis County (the county where Taidnapam Park is located), and with a sudden onslaught of rain…our best intentions went south…

Despite the rainy weather and the burn ban, below is a summary of our extremely fun 48+ hours camping near Mount Rainier.

Friday evening:  Crystal and Troy arrived earlier in the day, so when we pulled into the campsite, it was already arranged like a photo set from Sunset Magazine.

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

We took a walk/tour of the campgrounds, which includes a spectacular fishing bridge, a fun children’s play area, and acres of incredibly huge trees.

In planning for this trip, the four of us decided it would be fun to have Camping Olympics in which we would compete in various water and land sports and games. As the four of us had previously participated in a Seattle Scavenger Hunt, the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance Seattle Summer Sweep Clean-up of Lake Union, and the Beast Mode Challenge, we each had matching t-shirts from these events, which we thought would work well as our Olympic uniforms.

While touring the campground, we began preparing for the Olympic events to come that weekend. Our preparations included some serious tire swinging…

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the rings…

WP_20150904_17_52_48_Pro

and the chain-bridge crawl.

WP_20150904_17_57_17_Pro

After our mini-exercises, we decided it was time for dinner.

I had researched camping recipes online (many from Sunset Magazine), so I prepared salmon foil packets with a side of  pasta with goat cheese packets (foil packets make camp cooking so easy!).  

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

What doesn’t make things easy, however, is when there is a burn ban in effect only in this one small county in Washington State, despite the rains. Only propane grills were allowed. But Crystal and Troy were quick on their feet and bought some small propane grills so we could improvise our campfire.

After dinner, we made s’mores over our propane grill…

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

Saturday: Crystal made some delicious breakfast burritos (also wrapped in foil!).

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

After breakfast, due to the rain, we participated in a few indoor Olympic Games such as Bananagrams

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

The Game of Chips

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

and the crazy pigs dice game called Pass the Pigs.

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

Chad was a victor in that game. 

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

After a hearty lunch of “Walking Tacos” (see recipe below), we decided the weather was good enough to don our first set of matching t-shirts and go on a hike at nearby High Rock.

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

High Rock is an awesome short, but steep hike, which follows the Sawtooth Ridge uphill through the forest  

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to what we can only assume are spectacular views of Mt. Rainier and surrounding mountains. We have to assume, because when we did the hike, the trail was surrounded in mist and clouds. But it was still offered wonderful scenery.

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

At the top of Sawtooth Ridge is a spectacularly spooky lookout cabin.

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I’m sure in sunny weather, it looks perfectly normal, but in our misty surroundings it looked like something out of a Stephen King novel.

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

Descending again, we paused for a photo in what must have been the prior lookout cabin…

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After our High Rock hike, we stopped at local artist Dan Klennert’s sculpture park to view his amazing sculptures made from recycled iron pieces.

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(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

As Mr. Klennert says on his website, “I do not form shapes. I collect shapes to create my forms.” Good job, Mr. Klennert! And thank you for providing us with such a fun diversion on our way back from hiking.

From there, we returned to our campsite and took our first “official” Camping Olympics photo.

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

Sunday: The next day, the weather proved to be no better. But Olympians know not to let a little bad weather stop them. There were outdoor Olympic sports to be played such as archery,

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the bean bag toss,

(photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

and the ping pong ball toss. (Susan and Troy were the victors here).

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

After a lunch of “Cowboy Tacos” (basically hot dogs topped with bbq sauce, caramelized onions, spicy peppers and cheese), 

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

we all participated in the crazy game called Boochie which delivered on its promise to have us “tossing, kicking, bowling, and throwing like never before!”

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

After the events that day, we took our second “official” Camping Olympics photo.

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(We surely get gold medals for being “hams”!).

Monday: (I mentioned this was a little more than 48 hours, right?) On our last and final day of camping, Chad and Troy had a tie-breaker game of the ping pong ball toss. Afterwards, the medals (made from tin foil of course!) were awarded on our makeshift medals platform (you see a “picnic table”, we see a “medals platform”).

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

Despite the many things we were told we couldn’t do at this campsite,

(Collage courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Collage courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

we managed to have an incredible amount of fun.

After Chad took a victory lap around the campgrounds,

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

and one last “official” cheerleading inspired Camping Olympics photo,

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

(Photo courtesy of Troy Barnes)

we packed our things and headed for home.

********************************************************

No one should camp without knowing the Walking Tacos recipe (so easy and so delicious):

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef or 1 package of vegetarian “beef” crumbles

1 packet taco seasoning mix

2 small tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 hot pepper, chopped

Shredded cheddar cheese

Shredded lettuce

Taco sauce such as El Tapatio

Individual lunch-size bags of Doritos, Corn Chips, or (if you are Troy) Cheetos

  • Mix the ground beef with taco seasoning and cook this in a pan until the meat is cooked through.  
  • Taking individual packets of Doritos (or other chips), crush the bag so that the chips break into small pieces. Once sufficiently crushed, open the bag and add one portion of cooked ground beef, then add the chopped tomatoes, onions, lettuce and some shredded cheddar cheese. Top with hot sauce. Stir within the mini Doritos bag, and then eat out of the bag with a plastic fork. 
(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

(Photo courtesy of Crystal Thomas)

Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “48 Hours Camping Near Mt. Rainier – In the Rain

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