Thru-Hiker's Guide to America

Wonderland Trail Weather
By E. Schlimmer
Excerpted from Thru Hiker's Guide to America by E. Schlimmer

A trail surrounding a peak as massive as Mount Rainier is susceptible to quick changes in weather. It seems that the most dramatic changes in terms of water take place just above you but actually not in the sky. Because Mount Rainier holds tons of snow and ice above the Wonderland Trail, hikers must be aware that things run counter to conditions on most other trails. The hotter it gets here, the wetter it gets, due to melting snow and ice above you. Be aware that drainages increase in depth from the effects of the sun, in addition to the effects of rain. The hiking season starts in July for this reason. Starting your hike in May or June will have you come across dangerous raging brown torrents of runoff in addition to lengthy snowfields.

Temperatures during the hiking season stay around 65 degrees during the day, dropping to near the freezing point when darkness arrives. Using the calculation of a 3.5 degree drop per thousand feet gained, the tops of the biggest climbs may be 7 to 11 degrees cooler than the bottom of the climbs, and this temperature change may become a 15 degree difference as you approach ice and snow at the top. As with all mountain weather, it would be best to expect the unexpected, within reason.

Article © McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved.


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