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Skyline Loop Hike

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Decided to hit up the Skyline Loop trail up at Paradise. Has been a trail we have wanted to check out for sometime now. We went up just at sunrise on a Wednesday morning. Our goal was to beat the crowds and the heat. Was suppose to hit 90* this day. And nobody likes hiking in the dead of the day in the heat.

We got on the trail at about 6am. We were all alone. Nobody around. Just what I wanted. The weather was cool, kind of crisp. A taste of fall was in the air. The leaves on the plants dewy from the fog of the night before. The hike is pretty easy. We started out of Paradise the right side of the loop trail, I guess you could also consider it the middle. There are so many trails up there it can get confusing if you aren’t up there hiking all the time or if you have difficulty with mapping.

Anyways, we started our way up. Past Mertle Falls creek. The trail is still paved up to this point. After the bridge it turns to dirt and you start the gradual climb. After the log bridge if you are there early enough you are greeted with MANY marmots. Hundreds of them. Some are friendly, some are more standoffish. Some like to talk. (whistle) My husband had fun whistling back and fourth with them. Sure are fun creatures to watch. They love to forage the flowery fields looking for seeds and flowers. They especially seem to love eating the Indian Paint Brush flowers.

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Continuing onward and upward. We continued on and the trail turned into a series of switchbacks. Maybe 4-6. Not to many. Wasn’t too difficult. By the time we made it to the top we could see as far as the eye could see. Was a real treat, we were able to see Mt. Adams, Mt. Saint Helen’s and Mt. Hood. The views were never ending. Still a little ways to go up, we continued on. Here the trail got a little harder to follow. We had to do some scrambling up a rock field to get back on track with the trail. At this point the views of Mount Rainier were absolutely breath taking. It was HUGE. I have never seen the mountain out so close and clear. Was absolutely a memorable hike to say the least.

We got to Panorama Point, still had the mountain to ourselves. And decided to take a water break. Took our packs off and found a rock to rest on. Our packs didn’t hit the ground and we were greeted with the nicest little chipmunk. She seemed hungry, looking for an easy handout. But we had no food, not that we would had given her any anyways. But she was determined to check all of us out to see if we had anything yummy to offer. She especially took to Madison. I think because she had food on the ride up to the mountain and may of still smelled of something. The little creature sure climbed all over her and her things. Was the cutest thing.

After our break and mingling with our new mountain friend we decided to start our decent back down to the truck. From the point we took our break we could see the lodge at Paradise and Andy claimed he could see the truck. Unfortunately I’m not lucky enough to have such great eyesight. But we started our hike back down. We weren’t back on the trail for ten minutes and Madison pointed out a mountain goat. She said, she thought it was a white horse at first and had to remember where we were and realized what she was seeing. The girls had never seen a goat in the wild up to this point. And we as a whole have never seen one on this side of the mountain before. So that was a treat.

As we continued down that is when the large amounts of people started showing up. And I mean a lot. I told Andy so many times on our decent that I was so happy that we had started our hike so early. I was so happy to have the mountain to ourselves. Made it that much more fun. Haha, I have issues sharing sometimes. We probably past 50 groups as we were coming down. They all made remarks like, “You got an early start” or “Did you make it to the top already?” Sure did… We know to come early if we want a decent parking spot and if we want some peace.

Was a wonderful hike. Plan on doing it again in the future. We had two of our daughters with us. Was a pretty easy hike. Nothing too difficult. Yes its an incline, but the views are definitely worth it. The scramble through the rocks was the only questionable spot, kids didn’t complain and seemed to enjoy themselves. They loved all the animals. Mostly the friendly chipmunk and seeing the goat who was pretty close but really didn’t seem to mind us being there.

Mother Mountain Loop Hike

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I wonder sometimes that maybe I like the idea of being a hiker more, rather than actually being one… Its incredibly hard b work. This last hike proved all that and more. I have been eyeballing this route for awhile and when our Vegas trip fell through Andy suggested we take two of those days and do our first official backpacking trip on this route. We looked at it as a great trial on our equipment and to get a further feel to hiking a more difficult grueling hike.

 

Its Mount Rainier and it seems that nobody can get distance correct in this day and age at this park. Gaia app said 15.4 miles before we went, but clocked just over 20 on the app, my phone clocked us at 24 (gps) and our fitbits got us at just over 30 miles. Then the signage on the trail is all over the place, so don’t rely on that for proper mileage either. We hiked somewhere between 20/30 miles in two days. With a low elevation of 3200 feet and a high elevation of 6400 feet.

 

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We arrived at the Carbon River ranger station to get our back country camping permit. We were there bright and early right as they opened at 7:30am. Then started our ride up the very bumpy dirt road to the lake. 11 miles of pure bumpy hell to be precise.

We started our hike at Mowich Lake on the Wonderland Trail towards Ipsut Pass. The trail is pretty easy to the pass, dirt, some stairs and roots. The signs claim it’s a mile away from the lake, but once at the top of the pass the sign says 1.5 miles to Mowich. Its these small mis-readings all over the mountain that have you questioning distance. Anyways, heading down Ipsut. We were wondering if it was going to end… You go down awhile. The trail is narrow, large rocks and sometimes loose rock and gravel are present with a lot of over growth. Watch your footing. Be sure to stop and look back up once and awhile. The pass is no joke. Especially to the knees. We went in August so there were still tons of wild flowers. LOTS of butterflies. I mean hundreds. You keep climbing your way down and you start to get into more forest. The canopy gets a lot thicker. More streams and creeks. Even some waterfalls. There are a few bridges, one was kind of questionable. Was a large log that seemed to have weathered over time and was starting to break in the middle. We opted to ford the creek rather than cross the log.

 

After we finally made it to somewhat more level ground which came at the Carbon River. The Wonderland Trail had been washed out at this portion and a detour has you crossing the river to the other side. You go across on another log with a handrail. It’s a bit intimidating as the water is rushing below maybe a foot or two and you hear the large boulders hidden by the water rolling along with the water. Andy went first. No fear that guy. Then it was my turn. Watching my feet on the log (which is sturdy) and the water rushing below made me a little dizzy. But I did it. Thankfully… We continued on. Crossing the dried up parts of the river bed. Lots of old washed out log bridges from years past. Make it across and a sign that read we had two miles to go until camp. We planned to stay at the Carbon River Campground. By this time our backs and feet, as well as our knees were spent. Ipsut really took a toll on our bodies. But we kept trekking. The distance from the river to coming up on it again at the Suspension bridge over the Carbon didn’t take too long. Thankfully the trail was pretty flat and dirt covered for the detour. The bridge is 210 feet above the river, again a little intimidating. Especially when you get to the part where the water is rushing and those boulders are crashing below. While crossing be sure to look up river. You can see the carbon glacier. Its absolutely amazing.

 

I did it. Haha. And we have made it to camp. Time to get this pack off, make camp, water, dinner and try and relax. Relax… right our first time really using any of our gear this ought to be interesting. Least that’s what I was thinking.

Got to the sites we picked #3. Nobody had it claimed so it worked. It was pretty large. Offered two spots that would’ve held a tent. Ours being small we took the higher more secluded option. Took like 5 minutes to get the tent up. We needed more water. I packed 2 liters and a 16oz while Andy only had a liter and a 16oz. That was all pretty consumed by this point. We gathered all our smelly stuff and food and was sure to hang it up on a bear hook before heading to get water. This was our first time purifying water. Thankfully there was a great creek/waterfall at our campsite that provided clear and cold water. After purifying the water and tasting it… it honestly tasted like hose water. Oh well. It was wet and cold. Plus I had electrolyte tablets and powder I added to mine. So it took that taste away, so glad I got those.

 

Cooking went well. We have a little camp stove, light weight that we use to boil water for some freeze dried mountain house food. We had chicken teriyaki, an apple, meat stick and cliff bar. Mmm hiking food…

After getting water and eating some food. We seek the wonderful hidden gem in the woods. The potty… compositing toilets are at all the back country campsites in the park. So that’s convenient. Especially since the sites are all relatively close together, usually just miles apart. Hit the head, then we decide its bedtime. We both have thin blow up mattresses. Small and compact, very lightweight. They worked out. Then we have 30* sleeping bags. Also lightweight and compact. Which helped with keeping our bag at a lower weight. Anyways. I was worried I would get terrible sleep. But I actually slept amazing. I think it was because I was just so burnt out from the hike that exhaustion just got to me. And the 20mg of melatonin I took, just to help me get some decent sleep for the next day.

 

Woke up to the morning light as we slept with the doors of the tent open (screens were shut) was pretty warm that night. Wasn’t cold. My sleeping bag was perfect. Got up, hit the potty, made breakfast and tore down camp and got water again. I knew today was going to be hard as our route back was a higher elevation than what we came down the day before. But I wasn’t 100% sure just what I was getting myself into.

We leave our camp at the Carbon and immediately we start our climb. A climb that lasts literally all fricken day. Switch backs galore. We took a break, a potty stop at Cataract Campground. Nice place to stop, great sites. Lots of pika here. After our break we continued on. We got to Mist Park. Absolutely beautiful. At this point we were maybe 2500 up from where we started our day. Had a snack, refreshed our water, dunked our bluffs in the water to cool ourselves down as it was getting warm. The views were getting more open. The sun was out a lot more and we finally came out of the canopy. There were lots of meadows and wildflowers here. Beautiful streams and waterfalls. It was amazing. Also we got a nice treat to some huckleberries. Mmm. So good. I could’ve ate way more than I did. While we were picking and snacking along the way we seen a mountain goat. That was pretty cool. He just did his thing while we did ours.

After this… is when the trail got a bit dicey. Least to me. We got to a point where you kind of lose the trail and the direction to go. We were thankful for GPS. The hills side we climbed was lose flat (almost flagstone type rock) palm size. It would slip as you would step on it, highly recommending using trekking poles. I was super uneasy because it was a bit cliffy and the grade was steep. That section was short lived. Got back to dirt. My kind of trail… But not for long as it would turn back into the flat palm sized rock once again. Thankfully not as steep and not right on the edge of a cliff. So if I were to fall. It wouldn’t of been so bad. Thankfully I didn’t and carried on ok. We were getting closer to the high point here. Had to cross a couple snow fields. That was super refreshing to stop, touch and maybe lay in.

 

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We were getting tired. Having climbed all day our shoulders from the packs and our knees were really feeling it once again. We seemed to be taking more frequent breaks and needing to give the back and knees some time for breaking. But we continued on. Spray Park was just a little distance away. And I think out of this entire journey this was my favorite. The flowers were still out in abundance, the mountain was out in all its glory. It was a beautiful day. The scenery was spot on. But here we were at the top, and what goes up, must come down. It was 3 miles of going down. 3 miles of pounding feet and grueling pain to my knees. My pack started to feel more like 50lbs rather than 25. It was a long 3 miles back to the lake. We stopped so many times. I just dropped my pack each time. And each time it got heavier to put on. And let me tell ya, leaving camp up to Spray Park, even beyond that almost to the lake and back to the truck, this hike didn’t lack stairs. And you know you’re up in the woods. So, not your average well thought out stairs. I’m talking all different heights, made from rock, wood, log, root… so many damn stairs. My knees were dead. Stepping down was agonizing. By the time we had got through Spray Park (we saw a bear here too by the way, but being so tired and burnt Yogi didn’t catch too much of my attention) I was done and over it. I bit off a wee bit more than I could physically handle with this one in 2 days.

So. Funny story we’re hiking down hoping the lake is close, asking other hikers in passing how far until the lake, how long until the lake… The answers varied oh maybe a 1.5 miles. Oh about 3 miles… uhg… never a straight answer. We hiked and hiked and hiked for what seemed to be at the least 2 miles. We get to a sign and it said 2 miles until Mowich lake. I literally cried. My eyes welled up and a tear escaped my eye. I was seriously 100% done with this hike. My knees and shoulders have NEVER felt such pain. Let’s just say that 2 miles took forever. I was so slow to finish this hike because of the pain.

 

Thankfully the trail was mostly dirt at this point, but all down hill. Seeing I was over the rock and snow fields we had crossed earlier in the day that was almost, too a cry fest. Haha. But I kept trekking. Got to another sign that said we were .3 away. Finally we were almost there. Andy decided to go ahead of me to get his pack to the truck and he said he’d come back for mine as I was actually starting to feel sick to my stomach. Not sure if it was the pain, maybe lack of food, excitement of being done or all the above. But the last .3 of the hike was, you guessed it, stairs. But thankfully they were climbing up, rather than continuing down. I made it to the top. I made it past the campsites and toilets. I seen Andy coming back, he saved me from my pack and I hobbled toward the parking lot. Toward a regular seat, toward my vessel that was going to take me to hot food and my bed. Once the truck was in my line of sight, those tears overcame me again. I was so happy to see that truck.

 

There were plenty of times I wanted to quit on this hike. There were plenty of times I was pissed off on this hike. Because yes, to date this has been my hardest hike. I’ve never pushed myself to cover that kind of ground and elevation in that time frame. In the end, and writing this today I’m so proud of myself, because I can write this as an accomplishment, something I did… rather than something I tried to do. Even though trying it and maybe not accomplishing it would’ve been a drive to complete it in the future. I feel accomplished knowing that a year ago it would’ve been just that. An attempt. I’ve come so far. I have faught so hard. While it was hard, I did it. And I would do it again.

 

This hike was a test of our equipment. Yes new packs are a must for both of us as the ones we have don’t ride on our bodies properly. Have learned since, that the weight should be on our hips and not on our shoulders. Have learned that eating more is needed since you burn off so much and at a much faster rate than regular exercise. I also learned a great deal about my physical capabilities. And I said to Andy, maybe we aren’t Wonderland Trail material. But perhaps we are, with the proper equipment and less than 15 miles a day. Then I feel we can. And we will… A year from now I plan to be writing on this blog sharing with all of you our experience out there on the mountain again. We can. And we will. ♡

 

In ending, our fitbits said we had a two day mileage of 30 + miles, over 60k steps, 700 floors and 9k calories burnt. While I did see kids on this hike. I’m not sure I would recommend it. Especially for those dicey areas of Mist Park and some of the river crossings can be questionable. If you’re bringing your kids make sure they are we versed in the outdoors. No dogs are allowed in this part of the park and remember your back country camping permit and bug spray. While we really were only bothered by bugs at Spray Park I’m sure they can be a nuisance in other places or times of day.
Enjoy your hike, be safe. And remember to hike your own hike! ♡

Franklin Falls

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Decided that it was finally the time to give this hike a chance. We have tried to do it twice and weren’t successful. Reason for that is onetime we didn’t have a parking pass and the other time there was a ton of snow, which closed the road into the park adding about three miles to the hike. The kids were pretty small then and that was a lot to ask out of them at the time. Both times, we ended up leaving.

This time though we went up on our 12 year anniversary. We have always wanted to see this waterfall. Its especially popular in the winter because with it being relatively short even with the added distance the end result is nothing short of amazing. This waterfall rests at the base of Snoqualmie Pass. In the snowy/cold season the splash from the fall freezes on the rocks next to the fall making the biggest icicles. It is one of the coolest sights to see. I haven’t seen it in person, but it would be amazing for sure. The photos I have seen and video coverage of it. WOW. Breathtaking. Sometimes ice climbers go out there and climb the ice. Pretty cool if you’re into that sort of adventure. I would love to photograph it, but definitely not my cup of tea to partake in.

On the day we went up, it was a cool, cloudy, typical PNW day. Even for July. There was a slight mist in the air. Clouds were heavy in the pass, making it seem foggy. I had high hopes that the not so great weather would have people staying away from this gem at the bottom of the pass. And we were lucky enough to have just that. Only two other cars in the parking area.

The trail itself was well maintained. Muddy in some spots, but like I mentioned it was a bit wet out, and we have been having some unseasonable amounts of rain for this time of year. The trail was quiet, like I mentioned really nobody around. The hike in we passed one solo hiker. There was a few cabins along the trail, I’m thinking peoples ski homes for the winter. They were sure cute to look at. Then tons of lush forest. The trail started level with the river, as you progress there were a lot of log stairs to climb, the river sank into a very well carved out ravine. Seemed like there were multiple falls on this river, least from the look of the landscape and sound it seemed like there were. Was hard to see in some areas. Be careful seems some people have been curious and have tried going out of the way to look for those waterfalls. You’re up on maybe a 100ish foot cliff. Rocks below. I wouldn’t advise going off the trail to attempt seeing anything more than you can from the trail. There would be lots of regret in one wrong step or a slip on a wet rock.

The hike itself is short. 1.2 miles I believe. So quick. Trail does take you up like I mentioned but nothing to unrealistic. Lots of steps. Now, once you get to the end of the trail it gets tricky. The dirt path turns to rock. Sheer flat rock. I have heard the struggles of the last bit of this trail in the winter. Very slippery as that rock gets covered in ice and snow. I’ve heard most slide down on their butt during the winter, then coming back up they have microspikes. While not needed, it does make getting back up that steep rock climb easier. Least I can imagine. This particular day the rocks were just wet. Not really even slippery. Just watch your footing and hold the wall. I suggest a trekking pole in your other hand. Just for piece of mind. Once your past the rocks and the wall, you’re there. The waterfall is huge right in front of you. It’s about an 80-100 foot fall. Super pretty. Only downfall to this particular waterfall is you can see the overpass of I-90 above. Takes that peaceful in the middle of the woods feeling away. When we were there you could hear the traffic, see the occasional semi truck over the barrier. Then of course someone had to paint the underside of the past with distasteful graffiti.

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The falls were nice, the surrounding area was nice. And we had it all to ourselves. Was a wonderful way for us to celebrate 12 years together. We hung out there for a little bit. Looked for stones, had some lunch, took some pictures. Was beautiful. As we were leaving another couple was coming in. So it was definitely perfect timing. Then continuing on our way out many, many more people were on the trail. Even groups. Also seemed a field trip of smaller children. Which I was pretty disappointed to see, there was two adults for around 15-20 kids. No where near enough supervision for the amount of kids in that type of setting. The cliffs and rocks… No way! Needed more adults in that group.

Which brings me to my closing. Depending on your child(ren) yes, this is a very good family hike. Just watch them along the rain and towards the end when you can finally see the falls in sight. Dogs, absolutely. Just remember to clean up after them and have them leashed. Enjoy your hike! We sure did. Already thinking about that winter return trip!

93 miles… Let’s do it!

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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…

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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.

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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.

 

Summit Lake

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Our newest adventure was up to Summit Lake. Again was my husband and I as well as our two daughters they’re 9 and 14. Was a fantastic hike. Even though we’re well into July it wasn’t hot. So that was convenient, not only keeping us cool but I feel like the weather kept a lot of people away on a holiday weekend and even the bugs. Was nice to have the trail pretty much to ourselves.

Anyways, before I get ahead of myself the ride there let’s talk about that first. The road up to Summit Lake is a very primitive forest service road 7810. It isn’t maintained. Has to be one of the most rugged and bumpy forest service roads I’ve been on in along time. The ruts from water run off and larger exposed rocks, sometimes even boulders aren’t forgiving. Thankfully we took our pickup because we’ve heard that it’s best to have a high clearance vehicle for this ride. This is very true, but it isn’t impossible for a lower clearance car to make it. You’re just going to find yourself taking longer to get to the trail head. Took us almost an hour to make it six miles on this road. Weren’t trying to beat up the truck. Didn’t need to blow a ball joint or tie rod. Let me tell you though once you make it about halfway even though the ride sucks it’s rewarding. Amazing waterfalls on this road heading to the trail head. Definitely worth stopping to admire.

Once you’re at the trail head there is a large dirt parking area. When we were here there were many trucks, SUV’s and a few cars. If I were to of guessed maybe 12-16 cars parked. So wasn’t to bad. We made it to the parking area around 9 a.m.

Got our packs on and started our hike. Trail started out nice, slight incline, a couple switchbacks in the beginning. You cross over a nice wooden bridge that is over top a small creek/waterfall. The wind off the water was brisk. Made for a nice spot to take some photos. Continuing on the hike we continued to climb at a moderate rate. Nothing that was too hard or unbearable. My kids weren’t complaining so that’s always nice. The forest was very thick, super dense. Not much for clearings or distant views (not that we would had much of one anyways, was super cloudy.) the forest scenery was nice. Lots of moss on the trees, wild flowers were extremely plentiful. So many different types and shades of colors. Loved stopping to admire them all. The smell too. If I could’ve captured the smell in one of my photo’s you better believe I would’ve. It smelt strong of pine and noble. Was so fresh. It’s a smell that never gets old. A smell that you can’t buy in a candle or a spray can. Literally the only place you can get this smell is out in the wilderness on the mountain. Was absolutely amazing.

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Got to a junction in the trail at Twin Lake one way was continuing to Summit Lake the other way was to Bearhead Mountain we went to the left continuing to Summit Lake. We’ll save Bearhead Mountain for another day. Taking in the view of Twin Lake through the clouds was nice. Just past the lake you cross over another creek, this time your going over logs, be careful a couple were loose, so you may lose your footing. Also this portion of the trail seemed to be a bit muddier than anywhere else on the trail. So be prepared with proper footwear, there is one other spot you cross another stream, this one your going over on rocks and logs, chances are your feet may get wet. Continuing upward it’s pretty much a steady incline, but nothing that takes your breath away. I feel this hike is very good for beginners.

The hike to the lake is only around three miles. So six miles round trip if you don’t stray off on other little trails and detours to see things. We made it to the lake in about an hour. Absolutely beautiful. Least what we could see. Remember the clouds? Super thick. So there is a trail that continues up to the ridge that provides views of Mount Rainier and the lake below. We decided to complete the hike to the top in hopes that just maybe the clouds would break. We made it to the top enjoyed more flowers, clearings long enough to enjoy the cliff side full of flowers, and boy were the clouds moving quick. Was really fun being up there watching them. We sat at top taking in the clouds and each others company while we had lunch.

After lunch we walked a little more around up on the ridge, saw a patch of snow. The girls loved that. They enjoyed a July snowball fight. Other hikers laughed and smiled as they watched the kids play in the snow. Was a fun sight and made for a nice little break.

Also with this particular hike you’re able to camp at the lake basin and up on the ridge. No permits needed. Definitely something to check out if you’re into backpacking. Saw plenty of groups on their way down as we were going up with there tents, and sleeping bags. Saw lots of campsites and some were large, some smaller, but definitely peaceful. I could totally imagine myself there in a hammock. Get this… there was even a composting toilet at the lake. While it was a little walk, it made the lake nice and clean. We used it. Haha. But beware it was out in the open.

There were plenty of other groups spread around the entire lake by this time in the afternoon. Lots of space in between each of the groups giving everyone there space to enjoy the serene calm deep blue waters. And no exaggeration here. The water was super blue. A few of the groups had dogs, they were playing in the water, one man was fishing a couple cuddling in a blanket they were sharing on the bank. Was so picturesque. There were times that the clouds cleared long enough to see across the lake, and other times where they were so thick you couldn’t see the people or the shore on the other side. The kids played in the water a bit, husband slung rocks across the water and I took it all in. Laughing kids, the beautiful scenery and the smell. I absolutely couldn’t get over the amazing fresh smell.

Was around one when we decided to start our hike back to the truck. Didn’t take us too long to get back. As it never takes as long going back as it does going. We stopped along the way to enjoy more of the sights, the flowers, tons of tree fungus to look at. The girls loved touching all the different nature aspects, especially the moss that covered the trees.

Overall… Would I recommend this hike? Absolutely. Was it hard? No. Would I recommend for families or beginners? Absolutely. Dogs allowed? Yes. Oh, and it does take a Northwest Forest Parking pass to park here. You can purchase a day pass for $5 or  a yearly pass for $30. You can purchase this anywhere you can buy Discovery Passes, Fishing Licenses, Ranger Stations or Online. Bring a tent and a bathing suit… The only real downfall was the road, going down was a tad hard on the breaks of the truck. And the clouds. They took the view away. But I still enjoyed myself. Usually I’m the type that has to have a view, a sweetener to the end of my hike. I honestly just wanted the exercise and didn’t care where we hiked. We’ll have to go back again when we know we have a clear day to see the view and pitch a tent or throw up a hammock. Have fun and as always be careful when your out there and remember to always let someone know where you’re going to be hiking.