Paul and I planned our hike of the Wonderland Trail, 93 miles, circumnavigating Mt. Rainier in Washington. We got lucky, there were fire closures up until a week before we had permits to hike.
Here is a quick write up of our hike, with some pictured inserted throughout, as well as a slideshow of some more at the end of the page. Enjoy.
Day 1 - 13.5 miles, Longmire Trailhead to Nickel Creek Campground, 9:30am-4:30pm
After waking up at the campground, turning on the heat in the prius (a luxury not to be had for the next few days), we drove to the trailhead parking lot and went to find the permit office. After checking in and getting the permit, we took a quick peak into the general store (aka paul wanted to see if they had coffee... he had chosen not to bring any, and must have been envious of the instant brown water I was consuming that morning). Then we grabbed our backpacks and were off.
Overall, a great first day hiking. Felt a little goofy but got into the groove quickly. Glad we started with an easy mileage day. The waterfalls were beautiful and the glimpses of the mountain were good, nothing compared to what we were about to see the following day, but nevertheless, beautiful scenery.
Day 2 - 16.8 miles, Nickel Creek Campground to White River Campground, 7:50am-5:35pm
Day two started with a really nice easy climb to get the blood flowing. I remember noticing a lot of crickets chirping in the morning, beautiful. By mid morning, it felt as though we were back to usual, like hiking long distances, sleeping in the dirt and breathing the crisp mountain air was the norm.
We chatted with folks along the trail, saw lots of magnificent views of the mountain and kept walking. Stopped by a mountain lake for lunch and the birds living there were definitely fed by humans, one landed on my hand and another on my head!
At a few of the campgrounds, they have a spot where people leave food cache's for themselves, and they usually have a hiker box where people leave extra food, or swap out things they are sick of. Paul and I split a baggie of trail mix, and I scored some miso ramen.
We both hike stove-less, however, I bring with a plastic jar so I can make quick oats for breakfast or things like couscous for dinner, so I tried cold soaking the ramen, and after about 15 or 20 minutes, it softened up pretty good. Yum!
Day 3 - 17.7 miles, White River Campground to Carbon River Campground, 7:40am-5:00pm
Day three started with a long, switchback filled climb; one of those 'head-down, get-into-a-rythym" kind of climbs. Though no complaints, the trail mix we scored must have given us an extra boost.
Met a nice guy from the Seattle area, enjoyed a snack/water break by his campsite before we continued on the trail to ours.
Saw the carbon glacier! That thing blew my mind; you look at it and think, "wow, thats a big pile of rocks" and then realize that it's a big ice glacier that is just really dirty!
Day 4 - 13.0 Miles, Carbon River Campground to South Mowich River Campground, 7:35am-2pm
Easy day, milage-wise, but definitely the hardest climb of the trip! Over 2.4k ft gained in less than 3 miles. Then downhill to a campground with a hiker box! We had lunch along a lake and traded out some food for some orange chocolate cookie treats and a grossly delicious chocolate pastry in a box. Score!
Cruised the last 4 or 5 miles downhill (ouch, downhill hurts all the joints) to our campsite, getting within half a mile before it started to drizzle! We pulled out the ponchos and were ready to set up camp quickly. As we got into camp, we saw that there was a log shelter! A 3 walled sleeping shelter! As it started to rain harder, all we could do was laugh at how lucky the timing was.
We had gotten in at 2 pm, I read a bit, paul went off searching for water, and we did our best not to eat dinner too early. No one even came to the campground that night, so we had it all to ourselves.
As the temperature was dropping with the incoming storm, we settled into our sleeping bags for the night. Knowing that the storm was going to bring cold temps and lots of rain, we fiddled with the idea of combining our next two days, into one, and hiking the 30 miles back to the car the next day. Therefore, never having to sleep in a wet tent or deal with the soggy shoes we would have.
Day 5 - 30.3 miles, South Mowich Campground to Longmire Trailhead, 7:00am-6:30pm
Sure enough, we did it. We spent the 11 hours, walking, as moderately as we could, in order to maintain warmth, but not get too sweaty or tire on the uphills. Other than a few pit stops, and water fill-ups, we didn't stop. I figure that we weren't walking, for maybe a total of 10-15 minutes over the corse of the 11 hour day.
It was a special day though. With snow covering the ground, trees and rocks anytime we ascended above five thousand feet, we were experiencing winter descending upon the mountain. This is the only picture I took during day 5 ->
And although our feet were soaked through, the rest of our clothes stayed dry and when we got back to the car, it was all worth it. An exciting end to a beautiful trip.
Wonderland 2017 Gallery (click on an image to open slideshow)