The Wonderland Trail

My two friends and I embarked on the Wonderland Trail on August 6th, and finished on the 16th, of 2005. Along the way, we took many pictures and video, chronicling our trip around Mount Rainier. Every day was beautiful and sunny, and we met people from every walk of life. With this page, I hope to show some of the sights of the trail. It’s not called the “Wonderland” by accident…..a_100_1795

Getting Started…

First thing, was to decide which direction to go, what to bring, how to re-supply, etc…There are several books out there that will help, the one that we used was “Discovering the wonders of the Wonderland Trail encircling Mount Rainier”, by Bette Filley. A good book, with mileage, where to get water, and what to expect on the trail. Also, depending on how many days you plan to make the trip in, it also gives several suggestions for 8 to 14 days.  We decided to start the journey at Mowich Lake, and go clockwise, taking 11 days. Most people start out at Longmire, but we made the decision to start here, as it went down Ipsut Pass, to start.

Also, we wanted to have 2 convenient food caches, one being 3 days out, the other 4 days. Since we live close to the Mountain, getting re-supplied was relatively easy, as we had family members come to the 2 points on the trail that we would need to be re-supplied, at White River camp, and at Cougar Rock campground, near Longmire. For those less fortunate, you will need to mail a food cache to one of the designated food cache locations, Longmire, Sunrise or White River ranger station.

The Wilkeson Ranger station is now closed, so the nearest ranger station is now at the Carbon River ranger station, quite a ways off the trail, not being a recommended food cache.ADDITIONAL NOTE: As of this writing, 02/13/2011,The floods of 2006 have washed out the road for the Carbon River entrance indefinitely, so there is no longer a way to access Ipsut Creek, other than a loooong walk, or bike ride!!!Of course, in planning your hike, a great resource is the very helpful Mount Rainier Rangers, for contact info, check out their website at
Also, here is a great PDF map of Mt. Rainier, that you can zoom in on:   Rainier PDF file And, another link that shows the campsites on the trail. Wonderland Camps

 Day 1   Mowich Lake to Dick Creek

Ipsut Pass
Ipsut Pass

Well, we finally did it! The day has arrived, and Ed met me at my house at 6:15 this morning, and then, after saying our good-byes to our wives, we headed over to Russ’s house to pick him up. On the way to Mowich Lake, we made the obligatory stop at the McDonald’s in Bonney Lake for our breakfast burritos. Lately, on our hikes that start early, that seems to be kind of like a routine now, to get something in the belly that’s warm.

After stopping at the Wilkerson Ranger Station to get our Wilderness Permit, we hit Lake Mowich around 8:40am. The weather is good, clear blue skies, and the 3 of us are in good spirits to start our hike. We’ve put Spryoflex on our feet where the customary hot spots seem to occur, in hopes of heading off a bad blister.

Within the first mile, we stop at Ipsut pass to ogle, and take pictures. With the weather so clear, it is easy to see to the Carbon River valley, and beyond. So far, we’ve been at this point twice, and both times it has been a downhill for us…We haven’t planned yet to have to hike up Ipsut pass, as it is very steep. Russ and I have some apprehension, as the last time we went down this pass, we almost ruined our feet.

Lot’s of blisters, and I ended up losing 3 toenails on the pass last year. Very hard on your feet, and, not a great way to start an 11 day hike! We begin our descent, and pay close attention to our feet…Supposedly, there is a 1200 year old Cedar along the trail, according to the book by Bette Filley, called, “The Wonderland Trail”…We found it, and it is huge. Took some pictures, it didn’t seem to mind.

We made it to the bottom, and I am elated, I almost feel like yelling at the top of my lungs, “WOOOOHOOOO!” as we experienced no blisters, or other foot problems! Our preventative measures have worked. So far, all is proceeding as planned.

Around 1:00pm, we reach the Carbon River suspension bridge, and there is a line of people waiting to get across, as it’s a Saturday, and lots of people have showed up to take a peek at the Carbon

Carbon River
Carbon River

glacier, and the sign on the bridge says “only one person at a time”. Traffic jam at the Carbon River.  Once across, we begin our uphill trudge to Dick Creek camp, and I mean it’s a trudge. Heat of the day, and we pour sweat, as we gasp going uphill…It’s the first day, and even though I’m happy we made it this far with out too much effort, the hill really starts to sap us.  We reach camp around 2:55pm. Whew!! Happy to be here! After setting down, & drinking lots and lots of water, we set up camp, and promptly take an hour nap.

Ed does snore, but it’s softly…We have brought two tents, a 3 man that Ed and I share, and Russ brought a 2 man, that he sleeps in by himself. The original plan was for all 3 of us to sleep in the same tent, and use Russ’s tent as an equipment storage tent. However, as Russ and I are both pretty good sized individuals, (Both of us go 6’ 4” at least, and about 260 apiece), Russ decides it might be a better idea if he sleeps in his tent. That will be the sleeping arrangements for the rest of the trip, and it seems to work well. Usually, by the time it gets dark, we are ready to get to bed, and sleep.

The view from the toilet here is outstanding!!! As you sit, you look out over the Carbon Glacier from the ridgeline, with a distant unnamed waterfall cascading down the canyon walls on the opposite side. As Ed said, after returning from using the facilities, “Won’t need a magazine for this toilet!” I have to agree…

Carbon Glacier
Carbon Glacier

We’ve done well today, no one is in any serious pain, and no developing blisters. We are trying hard to do everything proactively to avoid blisters, cause this is a long haul, and none of us want to have to deal with blisters the whole way…The guys that are in the only other camp site here at Dick creek come over to say hi, and we end up talking for a little while. They are from Moscow, Idaho, and Pullman, WA. There are 3 of them, and they are on day 8. They tell us that they will also be going to Nickel Creek tomorrow.

We decided to leave the rainfly off last night so that we could watch the stars, and…Well, I don’t think I liked it, because of the way the noseeum  netting comes down to the tub floor, and you sleep with your head right up next to it, it’s like not having a tent around you at all, and I kept hearing little critters rustling around not six inches from my head…Nope, didn’t really care for that.

Also during the night, around 3:00am, I saw some shooting stars, and a satellite go by. Also, saw a constellation that I’ve never seen before, burning brightly directly overhead, makes me wish I knew my constellations better…From looking at constellation charts, it looks as if it could be Sagittarius…The stars were very bright, getting away from the city lights for a change.