The following is a guest post from fellow glamper Ashanya Indralingam.
If you’ve ever been to Washington, you’d be hard-pressed not to notice the state’s crown jewel and most omnipresent feature, Mt. Rainier. It so dominates the southeastern horizon of Seattle that locals refer to it simply as “The Mountain”. Needless to say, we couldn’t pass up the chance to see this glacial volcano up close.
Gateway to Mt Rainier National Park lies in Ashford, WA, a one-horse town (nearest mart is 20 miles south, so plan ahead) that makes up for its lack of amenities in sheer natural beauty and rustic forest cabins. Thanks to some Internet sleuthing, we’d unearthed the Wellspring Spa & Retreat, which turned out to be a retreat in every sense of the word — no cellphone reception, WiFi or staff on site.
Accommodation on the property ranges from safari-esque tents, a treehouse and yurts to family-style loghouse cabins. Glamping at its finest, folks! We were booked into ‘The Nest’, a charming, woodsy loft with a patio, in-suite bathroom and the star of the show — a four-poster bed suspended from the ceiling by sturdy ropes, casually swinging below a natural skylight. This charming bed has an added claim to fame — former Vice President Al Gore is said to have rested his weary body here when he last climbed Mt. Rainier.
Well rested, we set out the next day to conquer the mountain. Drive through the park ($20 day fee) and you’ll quickly find yourself climbing pass clouds, with the Cascade Mountain range looming large.
Ditching the majority of the crowd, we opted for the moderate Skyline Trail, with a few shorter hikes to the pinnacle added on, totaling a 7.2 mile loop with 3000 ft of elevation. The hike was as beautiful as diverse, snaking through subalpine meadows dotted with blossoming wildflowers, alongside glacier peaks and up to tree-rimmed mountaintops with views of peaks as far south as Oregon’s Mount Hood.
Despite the 90 degree weather, at least one of the side trails we took came with snow-covered warnings…but hey, what’s life without a little bit of adventure? By the end of our loop, the melting glaciers had gathered forces to form the mighty Myrtle Falls, a gushing waterfall that would make any drought-ridden Californian sigh with envy.
We suggest capping off the hike as we did, by enjoying an icy cold Mt. Rainier beer at the Summit House, a restaurant and lodge at the base of the mountain.
Back at ’The Nest’, we wandered around the woodland labyrinth in search of the property’s mineral spring cedar hot tubs, available for private use with a $10/hr booking.
A bottle of Chateau St Michelle Chardonnay (picked up during our tour of nearby Woodinville Wine Country) and a long soak later, we were suitably famished. The few restaurants in the area are quaintly appealing and climbing-themed, like the local favorite, Basecamp Grill, and the Himalayan meets American fare diner, Wild Berry. But we opted for a casual night in, barbequing steaks and asparagus on the property’s shared grill (all utensils provided), before swinging ourselves to sleep under a blanket of stars.