Transportation: We flew from round trip Oakland to Seattle on Southwest, checking our backpacks, which we packed inside of large duffel bags. We rented a car for the whole week and a half, which seemed kinda silly but ended up being the simplest of a bunch of not-great options: there’s no easy public transit to Mount Rainier National Park—certainly not to Mowich Lake—no guarantee of cell service or being able to call a taxi or rideshare, and hitchhiking is technically illegal within the national park. Plus, having the rental car meant we could drive around to drop off our:
Resupplies: Rather than mailing resupplies ahead of time, we flew with two five-gallon buckets full of food and toiletries, which we then drove to White River and Longmire ranger stations the day before our hike. We bought stove fuel on our way to the park and included that (everything labeled with our names, permit number, and anticipated pick-up date) with the two resupplies. We made a big circle around the mountain driving clockwise, probably five or six hours total—actually a nice way to see some of the car-tourist sights before making the hiker-tourist trip in the opposite direction. And we saw our first bear(!), crossing the road behind our car outside of White River.
Lodging: We gave ourselves a buffer day between our flight up to Seattle and our hike start date to account for flight delays, permit adjustments, and resupply drop-offs, so we had two nights in Washington before we started hiking. Rather than mess with trying to get a first-come-first-serve campsite or hoping for a room in the seemingly fully-booked hotels inside the park, we booked the first night at the Econo Lodge in Buckley, which was nothing special but got us within striking distance of the Carbon River Ranger Station for early-morning permits. Then our second night was in a Tiny House On Wheels at Seattle Tiny Homes in Buckley. Post-hike we stayed at an AirBnB (with a hot tub!) near the airport in Seattle.