The Wonderland Trail Adventures-part 1

HBB 158

Recently I was lucky to get the chance to hike part of the Wonderland Trail in Washington State.  The trail encircles Mt. Ranier and is 93 miles long.  My initial plan was to do the entire thing in a 12 day trip, but isn’t there a saying about ‘best laid plans’ and all that?  🙂  The following journal entries are a record of my adventures in this gorgeous place…..   I hope you enjoy them.


After months of planning, scheduling, dreaming and scheming, I am finally on the
Wonderland Trail!!  I am laying in my tent listening to a glacial stream crash down the mountain, smelling fresh resin from fallen trees and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.  Oh, my feet are aching, my left ankle is throbing,
my calves are laughing at me, knowing that they will keep me awake much of the
night with cramps, and frankly, I smell bad!  But I still feel very, very lucky!
This all started in Peru last year when my friends Deb (Silver Lining)
Julia (Hiker Biker Babe), and I promised to stop letting so much time go by
without seeing each other. There is a very special magic between the three of
us, and we do have grand times!   So we agreed to do yearly summits where we
would meet for an adventure of sorts. After throwing several ideas around, we
came up with the Wonderland Trail in Washington State for our 2009 Summit.
The Wonderland is 93 miles long and encircles Mount Ranier.  It has 23,000
feet of elevation gain and loss, and we are taking 12 days to hike it.  As the
Spring drew to a close, Silver Lining learned that her neice would be spending
the summer with her, so three became 4. Liz is a sharp, cool 16 year old and is
lots of fun to be with. She is a great addition to the group and I really love
being around her. 🙂  We are all excited that she is joining us and as she has never hiked or backpacked before,  they decided to take it easy.  (Well, as easy as hiking on the WT can be!) Liz and Silver Lining will hike some and jump on and off the trail, meeting us different places
with our food caches while The Babe and I will keep trekking on.

It is with these plans that we loaded up the car this morning and headed
towards  Mt. Ranier.  This mountain is beautiful beyond description.  You see
her from lots of different places around Seattle and she towers above all the
surrounding mountains. I get chills and butterflies everytime I catch a glimpse of her and I cannot imagine living here and getting to see her every single day.
We arrived at the Carbon River Ranger Station this morning and picked up our
permit from a fantastic ranger whose name tag read ‘Flash’. He answered all of
our questions and said that the snow and ice weren’t going to be a problem for the next few days, so it was with a sigh of relief that I left the Ice Axe in the car for now. My friend, Alpine, has loaned me this axe and I have been talking about it for months.  Just looking at it makes me feel all cool!!  But the truth is, with all of it’s jagged, sharp edges, it scares me to death!  And I have no idea what to actually do with it!  So it is probably a good thing that I won’t seem to be needing it……at least on this leg of the trip.

The actual WT starts 5 miles away, at the end of a forest service road that
is closed due to storm damage.  As we walked up this beautiful meandering lane
we wondered if there was really any damage.  However, before long, we came to a
section of rocks, downed trees and ankle deep gray rock flour.  Yep, this road
is closed. The rest of the 5 miles was alternating of smooth forest service
road and areas that look like all hell broke loose. It is kind of mind boggling
what this river can and did do!!HBB 169
So as it turns out, glaciers pulverize rocks.  As a result, you get rocks as huge
as cars interspersed with medium sized rocks, small rocks and completely ground
up rocks, which look like greyish-brown flour. Hence the name ‘rock flour’, or
glacial flour. It is very cool to look at, but tough to walk through. Imagine
ankle deep, sugar-fine sand!
However, it is all part of the experience! I am still fresh and excited enough about this hike that I could probably find quick sand to be acceptable!!   The non-flood part of our hike so
far looks exactly like the movie “Twilight”.  The trees are GIANT! And the woods
are thick and everything is covered with thick green moss.  It looks like a
fairy tale, and I am pretty sure that Aragon is going to come sweeping out of it at any moment and wisk me away…….  to be continued….
Anna aka Mud Butt