Trip Number: 12312A
Staff: Rider Sporn
- Enjoy views of Mount Rainier, glaciers, and wildflowers
- Hike and work on trails with a team of volunteers in the national park
- Access to the national park
- All meals, snacks, and cooking gear
- Work tools and instruction
Please note that the leader has changed from what was originally published. If you
have questions, please
Mount Rainier (14,411 feet) is the centerpiece of Mount Rainier National Park's 378 square miles of rugged terrain on the western slope of the Cascade Mountains, located approximately 90 miles southeast of Seattle. At nearly three miles high, Rainier is the tallest and most significant snow-clad volcano in the contiguous United States, with one of the largest glacial systems radiating from a single peak anywhere in the world. The surrounding park is a diverse natural wonderland of dense forests, dazzling waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, tremendous snowfields, and immense glaciers.
By the time Mount Rainier became the nation's fifth national park in 1899, wildlife and early settlers had created a basic system of trails, which laced the ridges and hills near the mountain.
We will be staying in the Sunrise area, in the northeast quadrant of the park,
off of the historic Wonderland Trail. The Sunrise area offers breathtaking views
of Mount Rainier, Emmons Glacier (the largest surface area of any glacier in
the lower 48), and meadows of wildflowers.
With only a small staff to maintain trails, the National Park Service has
come to rely on volunteers to maintain a trail system impacted by heavy use
and exposure to the elements, including heavy snow loads and freeze/thaw cycles.
Our project will consist of regrading the Sourdough Ridge Trail to provide a
smooth and safe place for people to walk. This keeps people on the trail and
allows water to move quickly off the trail, reducing erosion. Participants will
be trained to do this specific work and to safely use the tools. In the unlikely
event that weather and snowpack conditions dictate a change of location, a similar
project at another trail will be assigned.
We will hike to our work site each day. The moderately difficult hike could
range up to two miles each way. Work sites will be at around 6,600 feet of elevation,
so participants should be prepared for the effects of higher elevation.
On Sunday, July 29th, we will gather at the trailhead to our campsite at 4
p.m. Getting to the campsite may require a short hike while carrying your personal
items. Specific meeting directions will be distributed closer to the trip date.
Dinner, introductions, and an orientation will be on the agenda.
The next four days are dedicated to the service project, leading up to a day
off for exploration and relaxation. Conditions permitting, there will be a group
hike to the Mt. Fremont lookout (elevation 7,200 feet) on the day off. Our trip
is a group endeavor and all free-day hiking must be done in groups of three
On Saturday we will pack up, clean up our site, and clear out after breakfast.
We will enter the Park through the White River Entrance off of Highway 410.
From Seattle: South on I-5 to I 405 (exit 156). East on I 405 to SR 167. South on SR 167 to SR 410. East on SR 410 to the White River Entrance.
Participants must arrange transportation to the site. Rental cars are available in Seattle and at Seattle-Tacoma airport. Carpooling is recommended. Specific directions to our meeting place will be given prior to the trip.
Vehicle permit fees will not be required.
Accommodations and Food
This camping trip requires a short half-mile walk in to our campsite. Depending
on the condition of the snowpack at the time of the trip, it may be necessary
to divert to a different campsite, which would be a car camp. Because neither
can be guaranteed, participants must be both willing and able to hike in, or
to stay at a roadside campsite.
We will be practicing Leave No Trace principles, which include: no campfires, minimum impacts on the land, and packing out all garbage.
Running water is not available. The Sunrise campground will be chilly and pretty
wide open, so the opportunity to use "sun showers" will be unlikely.
Biodegradable soap can be used as long at it's a minimum distance of 200' from
any water source. No soaps, lotions, shampoos, bug sprays, etc. can go into
the water sources. Baby wipes/moist towelettes may be the best options for personal
For the safety of ourselves and the wildlife, all food and anything with a scent must be locked up at all times, and not left unattended in tents.
We encourage you to take the view that food is part of the adventure. Our healthy, plentiful meals are prepared under the direction of an experienced cook. Trip participants should expect to take a turn in helping with food preparation. Our meals will be largely vegetarian, with some meat options available. Before applying for the trip, people with food allergies and/or strong food preferences should contact the cook to see if accommodations can be made. Our first meal will be dinner on Sunday and our last meal will be breakfast on Saturday.
Participants will all be able to work at their own pace. We will be working at altitudes up to 6,600 feet, usually from about 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., with lunch and breaks. The project should be considered strenuous. Participants should plan a training regimen in advance of the trip for maximum enjoyment of the mountain air and satisfying work.
Equipment and Clothing
Participants will need standard camping gear such as a backpack, tent, a warm
sleeping bag and pad, rain gear, and sturdy boots. Even in summer, it can be
very cold during the night and into the morning, and then warm up as the sun
rises. Without campfires those gloves and hats will be trusted friends.
We wear boots, gloves, long sleeves, and long pants on the work project for
safety. Cooking equipment and food are provided by Sierra Club. Participants
need only bring personal dishes and utensils, a hard plastic container to carry
their lunches in, and containers to carry at least two liters of water to the
work site. A complete equipment list will be sent to registered participants.
- The Northwest Interpretive Association (NWIA) is a clearinghouse for books and maps of the area. Call (360) 569-2211 ext. 3320 to obtain a catalog.
- Mt Rainier National Park: www.nps.gov/mora
- Comprehensive Map: Trails Illustrated, Mt. Rainier National Park #217
- USGS 7.5-minute Topographic Maps: Mt. Rainier East, WA; Sunrise, WA
- Crandell, Dwight, The Geologic Story of Mount Rainier. United States
Geological Survey, Washington, D.C., 1973.
- Filley, Bette, Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail.
Dunamis House, Issaquah, WA, 1993.
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about
conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, and encourages
grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater
understanding, advocacy, and participation in the goals of the Club.
On Mount Rainier's rocky slopes sit more than a cubic mile of glaciers, more than on any other single peak in the contiguous United States. For thousands of years these masses of snow and ice have served to stabilize the climate and water flow around Washington. Now they serve a new purpose as indicators of regional climate change. Since the late 1970s the glaciers have melted faster than they accumulate, and their retreat has attested to rising temperatures in the Pacific Northwest. This evidence, coupled with record melting of arctic glaciers in 2005 and the shrinking of Antarctic glaciers, points to the monumental change in the world's climate.
Compounding the rapid change in climate is the fact that ice reflects sunlight efficiently, while land and water absorb it. As glaciers and ice floes continue to melt around the world and expose land and ocean, they create a positive-feedback loop that helps to warm the Earth. These changes call for humans to ask what effects the climate may have on us and what effects we have on climate change, and what we wish to do about it.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Rider Sporn lives in the Driftless area of southwest Wisconsin where he raises Scottish Highland cattle, along with lots of other animals. He has been leading Service trips since 2003. Although he loves service trips for the sense of satisfaction they offer, his main goal is to get people outside to appreciate the wonders of this country's magnificent landscapes.
Since moving to the West Coast five years ago, Adam Kapp has led outings in Nevada, California, and Hawaii. A web designer by trade, he takes seriously Sierra Club founder John Muir's advice to break clear away, once in a while.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips