Crossing The South Mowich River – Mount Rainier National Park

On day three, of our hike around Mount Rainier’s Wonderland Trail, we were greeted with some cold, fast moving water from the South Mowich river. With large packs, a few hundred yards to cross, and 8 miles, plus two thousand feet elevation gain to still hike, our nerves were on alert. The glacial rivers of Mount Rainier National Park, U.S.A., are high energy, rapidly changing environments, human time scales included. The over 25 glaciers that reside on the volcano, feed into over ten large glacial river canyons surrounding the Mountain. The glacial melt is the primary source of flow, year round. Large, even catastrophic, glacial outbursts (water surges from broken ice dams), and lahars (mud, water, debris floods produced from volcanic activity on the mountain), can appear at anytime. Hikers enjoy reminders on Park signs, in known high activity zones, warning them to head for high ground FAST, if you hear the tale-tell signs of water moving downhill, such as the sound of a moving freight train!
Everything went smooth for us. We were happy to utilize our river sandals.

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