Got the girls up super early to head to the mountain for some hiking. We had a game plan on where we were going and about how long it would take to get there. They were all excited and down for an amazing day. Seeing the hike previous was a little traumatizing. Being up so high on a cliff crossing over snow on a narrow path. Had to promise to them that we wouldn’t be in any situations such as that this time. Which we weren’t.
Got to the park early. Was freezing outside. It actually froze the night before. The flowers in the meadows had frost on them. Could see our breath as we exhaled. The thermometer on the car heading up and arriving to the parking lot read 34 degrees. BRRR! Poor kids. Should’ve planned for hats and gloves all around. Madison brought gloves to play in the snow, since she seen the snow there a few days prior. She was at least prepared there.
Started our hike, went up Sourdough Ridge, headed towards Frozen Lake. Which still was frozen as the last time. Some of the snow had fallen down and into the lake making new icebergs. Took in the sights there for a moment before continuing on to what I call the split. Trail offers many different directions at this point. Left to the Fremont Lookout. Straight on the Wonderland Trail heading towards Grand Park, and left went up to the Burroughs. We went straight towards Grand Park.
From this point on it was a new hike. Never having traveled this part of the trail, or been on this part of the mountain. From this point almost all the way to Grand Park the trail went down. Went over a few snow passing, but they were nothing like the day before. They were flat so if one were to of fallen, you wouldn’t of fallen but on your butt and not down a cliff. After a few snow crossings we continued going down. Trail opened up to a vast and long valley. So many wildflowers. The path on both sides had vibrant purple lupin. So pretty and so so so very fragrant. Continued on our way down this extremely long hill we past an area that was home to many marmot. Had to stop and watch them frolic and play in a ravine full of large rocks and boulders. We spent a good ten to fifteen minutes watching them. The kids love watching them and we have to take our time when they come. Got to keep them engaged by letting them enjoy the wildlife.
By the time we made it to the bottom of the hill after our moments watching the marmots, we were entering Berkley Park. What a beautiful area. Made it into some trees, still heavy wildflowers all over, can still hear the marmots up the hill in the distance talking between themselves. The trail got a tad curvy and just around a curve in between patches of trees was a brown bear out grazing in the middle of the meadow. Just eating away at the grass and unlimited amounts of flowers. The bear was maybe twenty-five yards away from the trail so we gave him/her space while we watched from a safe distance. Didn’t seem at all interested into us at all. Even gave me some acknowledgment as I was snapping some photos. We stuck around and watched as the bear ate and meandered around a bit. Finally the bear moved away from the trail long and far enough away that we were able to continue on.
Changed our line up as we hiked after seeing the bear. Put the kids in the middle, Andy led and I brought up the end. Kept looking back to see if I saw our new friend I didn’t. So figured we were going to be ok. Which was great. At this point it was still super early in the morning. Had finally passed someone going the opposite way on the trail. Made some quick conversation and let them know of the bear ahead. Made it to the Berkley Park camping area. Nice place. There were three sites there. One group site and two regular sites. There was even a wilderness potty. Was a nice spot for us to take a break. Girls love back forest potties. Beats using a tree.
By this point we figured we were almost halfway to our destination. There was still a lot of down going on with the trail, but finally we ran into some decent spots that were of a decent incline. Finally starting getting more views of Mount Rainier too. Which was nice because it was helping us know we were getting close. Went over one sketchy log bridge. Not that the water below was raging or deep, but the crossing was just old and logs had seen better days. Thankful that it was short or my kids may of called me out on this hike being a doozey.
Finally we start seeing the trees clear. The views are starting to open up. One direction we could see the Olympic Mountains and they were out so clear and big. Was an awesome view. By the time we had past that viewing spot we had come up to the trail head for Grand Park. Took the right to head that way and boom… Your pretty much there in Grand Park. The end of the trail was Lake Elenore. We hadn’t planned on going that far. As I just wanted a photo of the view of Grand Park and I wanted to feel its size and the vastness of the area. And boy was it amazing. Huge meadow. Let me tell you though. The bugs, this was by far thee worst hike ever for bugs. I thought Snow Lake was bad. This was so horrible. My poor daughter got like 25ish bites. Poor kid. Kind of came to the conclusion that she might just be allergic to mosquitoes.
Made our Grand Park stop a bit quick because of the bugs. That was a bit disappointing that we couldn’t stay longer. That long hike just to see it and go. I was hoping to chill for awhile and take in the view. But the bugs made it so unbearable. I’ll attach a photo that I took of Andy and the girls and the bugs are photobombing. Was kind of ridiculous. Plus I wasn’t ready to think about the hike back. Remember all the down? Well now it was pretty much all up.
Heading back it was a decent pace. Even with all the up and being tired. We did take a few breaks to rest and have lunch. Even took a break to soak my sore tootsies in a ice cold creek. Felt amazing. I mean the water was so cold it was making my feet go numb if I left them submerged to long. Wish I could’ve soaked my entire body. My knees were also sore as well as my lower back. This would end up being our longest day hike ever. The girls too. After our creek stop we stopped a short time later again at the camp ground for a potty stop.
Back at Berkley Park we got to see our friend the bear again. Was relieved to see the bear again, that way we didn’t have to worry about where the bear was. The girls names him/her Nutella. Because of “her” color. Again she didn’t seem into us. This time she was on the other side of the trail and we were able to catch her before she dipped into the trees and we lost sight of her. Wasn’t scary to see her go into the trees, because we started our very long steep climb back up to the split. Took me sometime to get up the hill. My feet started hurting again after having soaked them, not to mention my knees were on fire.
Got to the top and I was so relived to see the snow patches we past on our way down. Dropped to my knees at the edge of one of them and sat there a bit and let the snow help sooth them a bit. So happy I was able to find so much natural relief on the trail. Had maybe two and a half, three miles to go until we were back at the car. Finally made it to the spilt at Frozen Lake. Back to familiar territory. Was super slow going. Especially passing the lake, the dirt around the lake was almost sand like, super soft thick sand. My feet and knees were spent. Had to keep pushing. Only one more major hill up, and a nasty down. My knees weren’t excited for the down.
I was pretty much spent after seeing the bear the second time before going up the long steep incline. But I made it, we all made it. The kids did it, and they did it with pretty much no complaining. They had fun. We were so proud of them for accomplishing such along hike. Not that it was too hard, but it was really long. Seven-teen miles round trip was a lot to ask of the kids. I definitely recommend this hike. There are places to sleep along the way. There was Berkley Park, Fire Creek and Lake Elenore had campsites. Would make for less of a day than hiking all the way in, just to leave so quickly. Remember the bug spray. (It was actually recommended to me to use Permethrin on our clothing, after we did this hike. WORKS GREAT!)
Overall the hike was amazing. The kids had a great time, we had a great time as a family. Got to get in another amazing hike together. We accomplished something great together. I love being able to get out there with my husband and girls and see the beauty of our state. It always turns into a moment of Washington State History and a science lesson of some sort. I love letting them have a hands on classroom so to speak. Especially in these times of covid. Getting them out an engaged in health and fitness along with nature and where we live. Makes me happy as well as them.