|not my itinerary but you get the idea|
|basically 4000-6000' elevation gain daily at a minimum|
An hour plus later I took the turnoff and headed onto a gravel road that wound up the mountain for what felt like ages. I sorted out 7 days of food, which I of course had not done yet and at 1130 finally started walking.
The Wonderland Trail has at least one alternate route that I had read was prettier than the official trail and that's exactly where I started. I only had 6.5 miles to go to get through the Spray Park alternate to my official campsite at Cataract Valley. The alternate isn't on the elevation profile and with only my free park map in hand (no topo on that thing) I basically had no clue what I was in for.
It didn't matter, it was so pretty the giant climb was insignificant because I took pictures about every two minutes.
|first few forested steps|
|water absolutely everywhere|
|worthy side trip to falls|
|I think this was my first view of spray park|
Rainier hiding was soon to become a theme for the first half of my trip...
As the trail climbed up higher towards the ridge line I was treated to views of Rainier, wildflowers, huge mountains and mushrooms of all types. Not to shabby a start.
Once I reached the first plateau I think I had a grin plastered on my face for a good two hours.
Up and over, only a small bit of snow to navigate, and then down into the mist.
And it was quite the descent. Once I was enveloped by the clouds it was mostly mushrooms and flowers occupying my view.
I made it to my campsite nice and early. Set up my tent and proceeded to hide from the drizzle and nap. I eventually made friends with the other folks camping there but due to the weather it was a pretty quiet evening.