Monday, September 23, 2013

Wonderland Trail 2.1 Back to Indian Bar

I woke up early, excited for my last day on the trail and a chance to actually see the landscape. My plan was to head up past Summerland to Indian Bar and back. About 20 miles, and then hop in my car and start the drive home. 

sunrise creeping up on me
The trail climbed up the canyon and this time I could actually see the ridges! Cascading water and lots of green, such a nice way to start the morning.

Last time I had been unable to see even one sliver of this mountain, what a treat

The view got even better during the last few switchbacks to Sunrise 

The view from sunrise, the trail heads up to the left

I kept having to turn around just to stare at Rainier

I almost liked it all more in the mist, it felt a little more dramatic and special up there when the blue peeked through and then disappeared so quickly. But its pretty darn spectacular in full sunlight. Even saw some white dots that some hikers with binoculars assured me were mountain goats.

I may have liked the previous section a bit more in the mist but the minute I crested the ridge and saw what spread out before me I was giddy with all the sun and mountains. I simply had no clue. 

Heading down to Indian Bar, this is one of the view points that had been 100% obscured my first visit

I love that little shelter, it sure came at a good time on my trip

looking down from the long trek up to the bathroom 

One last look as I left the valley behind and climbed back towards Summerland

and yes, this is slightly different b/c my legs were more tired and the angle of the sun had changed....

The views were amazing but I was getting tired heading down that mountain. A long day of sun and a week without a break had me looking forward to possibly a motel room not just the back of my car and nice long shower. Maybe two or three miles from the finish I realized I had dropped my sunglasses. I think most people would have just left them, I mean I've had those sunglasses for almost 2 years and all I knew was that I had dropped them somewhere past a bridge maybe 2 miles back. But being tired and not thinking that clearly I very stubbornly turned around and headed back up the mountain. I passed at least 8 people on their way down, none of whom had seen the glasses. I walked for 30 minutes, feeling defeated and beat down I turned around and crossing a creek two minutes later I saw them. Yay for success, boo for an extra 2 miles because I can't keep track of my belongings. I was more than ready for a night off when I got to my car. Snacking the whole way I hit the road with dreams of motel rooms and showers.

stuck in roadwork I got a few more great glimpses before I was out of the park
Being cheap and indecisive does not make finding a place to stay easy. Add to that unfamiliarity with local highways and an interstate in Oregon that closes from 8pm-6am means you get one tired cranky hiker sleeping in a car in a parking lot. Oh well at least what I saw of the drive was pretty. Wonderland trail you were pretty amazing, and Mt Rainier I will definitely be back but unfortunately for me its back to work and the real world for now.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wonderland Trail 2.0

My afternoon drive brought me back to the Sunrise trailhead, complete with crystal blue skies and more tourists than I cared to count. But first I took a quick detour to the White River Ranger station where yet another fantastic ranger tweaked my permit so I could stay at the walk up campsite that night as a hiker and have no worries about hiking and camping that night. 

I had no idea that Sunrise looked like this, or that it would be so insanely crowded
I quickly hit the trail, there were so many more mountains and so much more green than I had even been able to contemplate. What a treat

Maybe you do not appreciate how big of a difference this all was but how about a quick reminder of what I saw last time...

Ta-dah, behold a view!


Oh yes, most definitely mountain

I like fog and it definitely adds to the mood but I'm glad I got to see all this. 

And just for fun one more time...

With no giant approaching thunderstorm...

What a fun afternoon, plus the crowds were almost nonexistent once I was 1/4 mile from the parking lot. Win for me. Then it was back to my car and then the campground and some tasty dinner. 18 miles plus a whole lot of driving, I was for sure done for the day. 
Now long distance hikers can be easy to spot, not always but there does seem to be a bit of a vibe that a lot have. While I was setting up camp I started talking to another hiker and after some tentative small talk we realized we had long trails in common. Tentative polite chit chat begone, she hiked the CDT in 2011 and now lives in Salida and trail angeled a bit this year. Plus we have the same shift and career in common. Needles to say we talked until well past dark dreaming of adventures and debating the Wonderland Trail. The trail community once again proves its a small and amazing world.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wonderland Trail: Day 7 Golden lakes - Mowich Campground

I could have started my day slowly but I had been plotting since the insanity of the thunderstorms so out early was the name of the game. 

the rangers cabin at golden lakes

Not the most exciting hike out, but plenty of berries to snack on.

Made it down to one last glacial creek crossing. Luckily all the bridges were intact, once again I was lucky and hit the trail a day or two after the bridges had been replaced.

One last long climb up to Mowich. Pretty forested and seemed a bit long. I kept thinking I was closer and would hear voices but then of course was nowhere near the end. And then I was done.

I managed to snap an end photo (day hikers had lousy luck with my camera phone so that's me with a lovely parking lot view), eat another snack and then hit the road. My grand plan was that I could rehike two different sections I had missed due to the weather. I had hiked 10 miles that morning and finished up before noon. If I drove to sunrise (the rangers mentioned a 1.5-2 hr drive there from mowich) I could day hike the Berkeley Park section as an out an back of 8 miles then camp at White River. Then day 2 I could out and back from White River past Summerland to Indian Bar. The section I had been so sad to have missed. So with grand plans I hit the road.