Night Eruption

01/30/2023  |  Mount Rainier National Park, WA

On July 5th, 2021, I decided to hike Mt Rainier to shoot pictures of the Milky Way rising above Mount Rainier! I thought it would be an easy hike to the Fremont Lookout tower however it was actually brutal because it was a very steep climb! While I hiked up this trail I saw 4 Billy goats and a marmot. There were several people hiking and some brought very young kids with them! When I got to the tower there were quite a few people, around 35 and one lady was celebrating her birthday. There were a lot of foreigners speaking other languages. All but one left after the sunset. His name was Nate and he also stayed to shoot the Milky Way just like me. First, we had to wait for it to rise up in the night. While we were waiting, we took pictures of the tower against the night sky. I took many pictures to make a star trail and he tried to take pictures with the Milky Way behind it. These shots were in opposite directions because I put the North Star in the middle of mine. This worked to our advantage because we were both lighting up the windows of the tower from each side. My side was red and his was the white light because I was using the red light with my camera but he was using his flash light. I liked the red light better. After the North Star shots, I took a few more with the Milky Way behind it. At one point in the night we stayed on one side of the tower to keep warm because it was in the 40’s with a light breeze. Finally, the Milky Way moved closer to Mount Rainier so we walked to the top of a cliff near the tower for a better shot! We had to wait until 245AM to get the best shot of the Milky Way rising straight over Mount Rainier, and it actually looked like the mountain was erupting! While we were shooting pictures, we could see hiker’s lights on the top of Mount Rainier while they were making their ascent to the top in the early AM. Shortly after that we put our gear away and headed down the mountain. It was much easier going down and only took about an hour and a half. Nate didn’t stop one time; I had stopped several times hiking up to catch my breath. When we walked down, we passed a few people going up for the sunrise however Nate told me it’s not worth it unless there’s a lot of clouds. He’d seen it before and said it was very disappointing unless you like the mountain being lit up in yellows and purple pinks!

Photo © copyright by Michael Buckley.