Andy and I have decided to take the plunge and take on the Wonderland Trail. It’s a 93 mile trail that goes around the base of Mount Rainier. It has an elevation gain and loss of over 20,000 feet. Said to be compared to completing the summit of the mountain twice. Not for the faint of heart. While it has its more trying spots, I think its a very realistic hike. We’re so excited to do it and see all the amazing sites of Mount Rainier that gets you off the beaten path that you can’t drive to and all can see from a view point or parking lot…
So the way it works… National Parks give hikers up to 14 nights and 15 days to complete the trail. You’re able to cache your food and supplies along the trail. Which helps because the lighter the load you have to pack the better. Cache locations are pretty well spread out. From what I have read, most people opt to cache 2-3 of the 4 locations. The four locations you can do supply drops is Longmire, Mowich Lake, Sunrise and White River Campground. Also getting to do this hike is a bit of a gamble. Meaning, you have to apply for a back country camping permit. It’s their way of keeping tabs on who is in the back country. They used to allow reservations for doing this hike. Back in I believe it was the early 2000’s there was over 15,000 reservations made one summer (Thank you internet). So now instead of doing a reservation you do a walk up, first come first serve permit. When you apply for your permit you do it at one of the ranger stations on the mountain and you have to provide them with your itinerary. Depending on how many people are currently out hiking and other itineraries will determine whether yours will be granted or not.
With that said, when planning your trip a lot of consideration goes into making it happen. It’s not just grabbing your pack and heading out to the trail. You have to come up with an itinerary that outlines your starting point, camping spots and ending point. You can do this hike either clockwise, or counter clockwise. There are various places you can start the hike also. So far I have put in a lot of effort and time to try and find the way that is best for our abilities, the timing and what I think I want to see and experience the most.
You don’t just all of a sudden have the urge to want to go out and embark on such a grueling hike. You evolve into hiking and adventure, least thats how it worked for me. You progressively want to do more. Mount Rainier has been out my kitchen window all my life. I have been to the park hundreds of times. Hiked many trails, have hiked numerous sections of the wonderland trail in the past. It has been something I have talked about for along time. Something my husband and I have tossed around as an idea many times. It was recently that I said lets do it. Lets just get out there and do it as a whole. I’m not exactly sure what it was that made me decide that now was the time. Not sure if it was someone talking about it, posting a picture or what. I do know that when I felt like doing it, it has become an obsession. Honestly, its all I want to do. I find myself looking at the mountain when I’m out and about, and just the feeling that I have when looking at it… it feels like chills, butterflies, a tingle in the pit of my stomach, a feeling of thrill and excitement. And endeavor that I’m excited to achieve. Kind of odd to describe.
I have spent a great deal of time watching YouTube videos of people on their trips, reading blogs, books (my favorite so far is “Hiking the Wonderland Trail” written by Tami Asars.), talking to others who have completed the trail. My husband and I are doing the class that REI offers next week that is just about hiking the wonderland trail. Google pictures of the wonderland trail. Hop on Pinterest and input the wonderland trail in the search bar. The results are mind blowing. The photos are to die for. Me being a photographer having started out with nature I think is where this all ties in. I love to photograph nature its absolutely hands down my favorite. Having been to Rainier countless of times, I wanted to know what the views were of the areas I haven’t been so lucky to make it to yet. And I really think they’re the best. Mystic Lake, Summerland, and Indian Bar. The views are something you cant find or see anywhere else. You physically have to walk there to see the magnificent beauty. After seeing these views it only made me want to do this hike even more.
I also feel part of the reason behind wanting to do this hike is because its such a physical demanding adventure. Everything I have ever done in my life. Having birthed children, having almost died on a couple occasions, this will still surpass all of that, physically. Mentally I’m totally ready. Its just hoping that my body can keep it together for this remarkable journey that I have decided to embark on.
First, we have just a little over a year to prepare physically for this hike. We are planning to start the second week of August 2020. Already have taken the time off work… Which, if you know me, thats hard to do. I have come up with a rough sketch of our itinerary. It may change later on. Was just my first go at making a schedule and seeing what I could come up with as far as distances in between. We’re going to cache our food hopefully after obtaining our walk up permit at the Carbon River Ranger Station. We’re planning on caching at Mowich Lake and Longmire. Then driving through the park to the Sunrise entrance to park at White River Campground to start our journey the following day.
- White River Campground – Starting point.
- Summerland/Indian Bar Campground – 10.7 miles 3,091 elevation change
- Maple Creek Campground – 9.2 miles 1,210 elevation change
- Paradise River Campground – 6.8 miles 2,096 elevation change
- LONGMIRE INN (FOOD CACHE & Sleeping in a bed & a shower tonight) – 3.6 miles 49 elevation change
- South Puyallup River Campground – 11.2 miles 4,186 elevation change
- Golden Lake Campground – 10.9 miles 3,487 elevation change
- Mowich Lake Campground (FOOD CACHE, eating good tonight) – 9.3 miles 2,315 elevation change
- Ipsut Creek Campground – 4.8 miles 262 elevation change (thou I don’t believe this is accurate)
- Mystic Lake Campground – 7.6 miles 3,749 elevation change
- Sunrise Campground (So eating a juicy burger at the cafe and enjoying a Rainier Beer) – 8.2 miles 2,496 elevation change
- White River Campground – 3.4 miles 29 elevation change
That was my first run through of making an itinerary. Has us going clockwise, which I have heard is the easier of the two options. Has us out for 12 days 11 nights, if you don’t count our night before at the White River Campground. We may change it to be 13 days and 12 nights. Just not to sure about the hike from Longmire to the South Puyallup River Campground. 4,000 plus elevation gain seems like a doozey. But IF we did change the plan there are two other campgrounds along the way. IF we didn’t change the plan at least the day before was short and we would be well rested from staying at the Inn the night before. I’m already looking forward to the shower I’m going to get that night. Haha!
Now its been a matter of getting our bodies ready. Having lost over 100lbs for me has helped. I’m still striving for atleast 40 more lbs. 60 would be superb though. We’ll see. Hoping to really get my mind in the game again here through August and September to try and have it off by January 1st. Unfortunately I have hit a snag in my health and am getting that fixed hopefully soon. Stupid gallbladder! Thats what you get I hear for losing weight too fast. And women are more prone to these issues after having children. Which I have a few of. Hoping to have this ridiculous body part out in the next two months. Doctor appointment is in two weeks. Andy and I have been hiking with full packs when we have been hiking. Trying to get used to the feeling of the packs and the weight. My pack is coming in around 25-30lbs depending on what food and water I have at the time. I have been spending more money than I would like on shoes, socks and remedies for foot care as I have the dumbest of feet that are picky and an absolute nightmare. My feet are really the only real thing on my mind of “Can I really do this?” Unfortunately just for the sake of being prepared for failing feet I was planning on two pairs of shoes at the least. I was thinking my keen hiking boots. I have had them a couple years now, so they’re pretty well broken in. Then I just picked up a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves that I have been wearing the last week or so. So far, so good with them. Aside from going down hill. I feel my toes kind of crush into the rubber toe area, but I’ve only taken them on two hikes so far. Then I was toying with the idea of possibly some water shoes of some sort. Not 100% sure there. I have heard mixed reviews on wanting to take a shoe that can get wet and dry quick. That is still being researched. But I have my duct tape, mole skin and various sock combos that honestly I have yet to really find something that works. And I have taken so many suggestions with different ways to wear socks.
Here we are. The very beginning stages of what will become an experience I will forever remember and cherish. Call me crazy, but the thought of doing this gets me a tad choked up. Because I know it will be hard. And I know I am asking a lot of myself to get this done. Will physically be the hardest thing I have ever done. And I want the satisfaction of completing it so bad. I want to be able to look at the mountain and have a whole new respect and feel for it knowing the I did it. Knowing that I completed it, knowing that I can achieve whatever I put my mind to. I feel like that is the ultimate reason. I want to feel empowered and accomplished. Yes there are people out there climbing Mount Everest, scaling the mountains of Pantagonia and beyond. But they all started somewhere. I don’t think I will ever have the desire to accomplish such hard hikes as those, but being able to accomplish this one will be a huge stepping stone for me in my life.
I really hope you guys follow along as I post further posts on how the journey to The Wonderland Trail is coming. And I will for sure post about the trip itself when it comes down to it. One year and counting.