Mav sleeping as we approached our first camp
Rainier (Point Success) from Kautz Creek crossing
Eating Ritz crackers at Indian Henrys Cabin
Indian Henrys Hunting Ground and Rainier
On Emerald Ridge looking North
Suspension Bridge over Tahoma Creek
Scott and Brian reaching the top of Emerald Ridge
The Tahoma Glacier from Emerald Ridge
St. Andrews Lake, Tokaloo Spire, Mt. Rainier
Sunset Park Ranger Cabin
Golden Lakes area
Scott taped his sock and walked 4.5 miles with no boot
Mowich River sandbar
Ending at the Mowich Lake parking area, totally wasted
Wonderland Trail with a Maverick
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Testing the load at home, Mt. Rainier in background
Ready to go at the Longmire trailhead
The trail starting up Emerald Ridge
Picnic at the end!
Approaching St. Andrews Park
Mount Rainier Park map showing our route of the western section of the Wonderland Trial
The Wonderland Trail is one of the most spectacular and difficult trails in the U.S. as it circumnavigates Mt. Rainier. The trail is 94 miles long with a massive amount of elevation climbing. I would be doing the hardest section, 30 miles with 10,385 feet of elevation gain, all with my son and our overnight gear for 3 days on my back.
This was the final 35 miles left to finish the loop for me so when a friend informed me he was doing the circuit the first week in October, I jumped on his trip. The only catch....I needed to bring Maverick. He was 1 year and 2 days old weighing 23 pounds. So much for ultra light hiking, I had very little gear for myself...mostly stuff to keep Maverick happy.
At home, a few hours before a late Friday departure, gear was placed in a duffle bag, and then tied to the kid carrier along with the sleeping bags, pad and tent. It was around 50 lbs, not bad but the kid carrier wasn't designed for a heavy load....would the pack hold?
When we got the permits, we did not inform the rangers we would be taking a 1 year old. I get enough disapproving frowns from people. With only 2 hours of daylight left, we headed off for Devils Dream Camp 5.7 miles away. The miles passed by quick with the excitement of the trail. Maverick fell asleep the final two miles in the dark. I picked a camp away from my two friends incase Maverick woke up upset in the night.
In the morning, I got out of camp a bit earlier than the others, soon reaching the cabin in Indian Henrys Hunting Ground. Although Iíve climbed all 4 peaks in this area I had never hiked through on the trail. My hiking companions caught up to me there as Maverick ate breakfast on the cabins front porch. I quickly pushed on dropping down to Tahoma Creek and a large suspension bridge that's 100 feet high and 253 feet long. Next was a gradual climb up Emerald Ridge. This is where the views really opened up and the west side topography of Mt. Rainier is striking. Taking a big break on the trails highpoint on Emerald Ridge, the others caught up. After a quick 1600 foot drop it was back up 2000 feet to St. Andrews and Klapatche Park, then down 1300 feet to our second camp on the North Puyallup River.
My shoulders and back were hurting from the awkward pull of my load but overall, I felt strong. The next morning I was really sore. Just getting the pack onto my back was extremely difficult procedure requiring a log to set the back on and strap in before standing. Todayís weather wasnít so promising; fog covered most of the ridge as I hiked up into Sunset Park. Near the Golden Lakes Ranger Station, I started meeting hikers warning of a bear in the area. Taking a big break at the ranger cabin, I waited for my hiking companions to catch up as they were a better meal for a bear. Scott had some really thrashed feet to work on. He decided to tape up his foot like crazy, put socks on, and just walk with no boots. It worked, so we continued together dropping down to the Mowich River. The late afternoon was spent climbing up to Mowich Lake ending the trip just before dark. The final climb was exhausting; the weight after 30 miles was just killing me. I trudged into the parking lot like I just finished climbing to the summit of Rainier, with Maverick sleeping away. Soon our wifeís and kids arrive, with food! We had a picnic at Mowich Lake as the sun went down. That's how you end a trip. Scott successfully continued his hike solo