Mt Rainer & Nisqually Icefall from the summit of Pinnacle Peak
- Rating: Difficult, strenuous - NOT FOR BEGINNERS!
- Route: Drive from Olympia to Longmire Ranger Station. About two hours.
- Gear: In addition to 10 essentials and overnight camping gear the following items are required
- Teva sandals or other suitable footwear for fording rivers
- Ice axe
- Carpool: Rendezvous at 7:30 AM. We will carpool from the Olympia Food Coop to Longmire. We leave on time and do not wait. Please bring $15 per person to reimburse drivers and a few dollars to reimburse Event Host for backcountry permit. $15 Entrance fee for each car.
- Links: The Wonderland Trail http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/the-wonderland-trail.htm
• Disclaimer: We will be in the wilderness. Serious injury or death can occur. We are not professional guides nor do we claim to be experts. It is not our responsibility to get you to the listed destination. We hike at our own pace. By attending this hike you are assuming responsibility for your own personal safety and we will not be held responsible.
Arguably one of the "top fifty" hikes on the planet the Wonderland Trail (WT) is 93 miles long and encircles Mount Rainier. The trail is a loop, as such, we will start and finish at Longmire Ranger Station. It is a strenuous and relentless hike with 33,000' of elevation gain and loss, through lowland forests and valleys and into high alpine and sub-alpine zones. It may be one of the best maintained trails in the world. There are many sections that could accommodate a motorized wheelchair, switchbacks are plentiful, and mud is a rare sight on the WT. Nevertheless, the trail also climbs through high alpine terrain around Spray Park and Panhandle Gap (6700') where icy snow slopes linger into late season and an ice axe is essential for safe passage. Occasionally, a bridge, over a minor tributary, is out and hikers must be prepared for an unanticipated ford.
This trek is NOT RECOMMENDED for the beginning hiker. Please don't sign-up for this trip if you have no experience with overnight backpacking. Presumably, participants will have previous experience in multi-day backpacking excursions and know how to look after themselves in the backcountry (cooking, hygiene, map & compass, etc.). The first three days of this itinerary are the toughest. If you can make it to Mowich Lake you will probably complete the trek. Pack light! Keep your total pack weight less than 20% of your body weight. See my notes on packing light in the "Discussion" section of this website.
I hiked the Wonderland Trail, for the first time (young and stupid), in six days and it practically killed me! Make no mistake, well-groomed trail notwithstanding, this is a rugged and strenuous undertaking over ten days. I've completed this route three additional times with a ten day schedule and it has been a tough workout each time! You need to be in top shape to complete this route. It's not just 93 miles. You have to consider the relentless punishment of 33,000 feet. That's over 3000' everyday! Use the summer to get prepared.
In any season the WT hiker needs to be prepared for any kind of weather from blistering sun to blizzards! Snow flurries, whiteouts and freezing overnight temperatures are all common in September. This hike will average about ten miles a day but in reality that means there will be some twelve-mile days and some six-mile days. There are no ZERO days which means participants must be prepared to trek in any and all weather conditions and need to be in excellent condition to sustain ten consecutive days of athletic backpacking.
Hikers can choose to carry all their supplies for the entire trip or take advantage of two food caches (recommended) at Mowich Lake and White River Campground. Using the food caches allows the hiker to carry only about three days of food at a time. Check the enclosed link to Mt. Rainier Park for IMPORTANT information about using the food cache system.
Participants on this trip can mail their food cache(s) to the Park or have the additional option of paying the Event Host a nominal fee ($10 each person) to hand deliver your two caches in the days before our hike. Since inclement weather should be expected for any ten-day backpack this trek will only be canceled in case of expected severe weather or large (over 12") early season snowfall.
Participants will be required to sign a liability waiver. I've reserved the group site at each camping location. We do not allow guests on our hikes - you must be a member to join us.
Itinerary: (CONFIRMED 4/17/13)
- DAY01 - 11.8m/Longmire - Puyallup River (4000') 9/13
- DAY02 - 12m/Puyallup River - Golden Lakes (5130') 9/14
- DAY03 - 10.2m/Golden Lakes - Mowich Lake (4929') 9/15
- DAY04 - 6.5m/Mowich Lake - Cataract Valley (4700') 9/16
- DAY05 - 6.5m/Cataract Valley - Mystic Lake (5620') 9/17
- DAY06 - 8.1m/Mystic Lake - Sunrise (6300') 9/18
- DAY07 - 9.3m/ Sunrise - Summerland (5940') 9/19
- DAY08 - 11m/Summerland - Nickel Creek (3350') 9/20
- DAY09 - 10.4m/Nickel Creek - Paradise River (3950') 9/21
- DAY10 - 3.5m/Paradise River - Longmire 9/22
- * Resupply day
What you can expect
• Bears, bugs, rodents
• Snow, rain, wind, freezing temperatures
• Bear protection for food at all campsites
• Spectacular scenery, well-maintained trail
• Food caches
• Not to many people after Labor day
• No Campfires
• Strenuous days with lots of elevation gain/loss
• A memorable adventure!