Wonderland Day 1
July 23, 2019
White River to Dick Creek: 16 miles
Day one and we started with our second longest day on the trail! We had a very interesting morning. We woke up just before 6 and started getting ready to leave. I got up to go to the bathroom and change, and on my way back it started sprinkling. The minute after I got back to the campsite, it started pouring down rain and hailing! Will and I made a beeline to the car after throwing our packs in the bear bin. We’re very happy we didn’t take the fly off of the tent body yet. It let up after a bit and we finished packing up and organizing our things, moved our car to the trailhead parking lot, filled up our water bottles, used the flush toilets one last time, and we were off!
The trail started with a steep 2,000 ft climb over 2.5 miles in the forest. I was hurting pretty bad, having to stop and take some breathers. I was walking in front of Will, but eventually told him he should just go ahead of me since I was taking it slow. After about 2 miles, we got beautiful views of Mt. Rainier in the morning sun, and the intense climbing let up and we got to meander through subalpine meadows - my favorite! After a little more climbing, we reached the Sunrise area and took a break in the sun, watching all of the day hikers begin their treks. We continued downhill, marveling at the views - the valleys to the east, Mt. Rainier to the west, the meadows, the chipmunks running around... it was very idyllic and lovely. And the weather was nice and sunny!
Eventually, we started another short, but steep climb, and topped out at Skyscraper Pass with incredible views of the mountain and forests below. We also saw Mt. Fremont Lookout and Skyscraper Mountain. This point began our first very long, steep descent of the day down to Winthrop Creek, a glacier creek that comes off of the Winthrop Glacier. We passed many groups going up the climb and we were coming down, and we passed the Granite Creek camp nestled into the woods.
We stopped for lunch at Winthrop Creek and hung out for an hour doing the usual hiker things: eating, drying out the tent, airing our feet and socks, etc. the wind started to pick up, and the clouds were moving in, foreshadowing the weather for the rest of the evening.
We began our last climb after lunch up to Mystic Lake. The first part of the climb wasn’t too bad, but the closer we got to Mystic, the steeper it got. The woods were very pretty with mossy trees, and approaching Mystic, there were lots of wildflowers. I can tell Mystic Lake would be beautiful to spend time at, and go swimming, but it was pretty chilly when we got there. I put my rain jacket and wind pants on, as we decided to take a break and enjoy the moody lake since we only had 3 miles to camp and it was only 3:30 pm. We ended up taking a little nap even though it was kinda cold. After our break and chatting with other hikers, we started the final part of the climb, which was super steep and I had to stop frequently. It was so foggy too! Everyone we saw kept saying that Moraine Park, the meadow after the climb was so pretty, but when we got there it was completely socked in. Oh well, we booked it downhill 2 miles to our camp. It was getting colder and we were getting very tired. We finally got to Dick Creek around 5 pm and immediately went into camp mode: using the toilet, getting water and filtering, tent setup, dinner prep, as the fog rolled in even more. We heard the views from camp were supposed to be nice, but it’s a total whiteout for us. Maybe in the morning!
As Will and I were eating dinner, our neighbor, Jen, came over and chatted with us. She’s a wilderness ranger at Rainier and just finished her duty. She’s doing the trail clockwise in 5 days, finishing at White River tomorrow! She was so sweet and nice to talk to. Unfortunately, the party had to end because it was freezing! We brushed our teeth, hung our bear bag, and jumped into our bags for an early night. It’s been drizzling on and off so far, and both of us are so tired, we’ll probably be asleep before 9! Hopefully when we wake up, all of these clouds will have lifted and we’ll see the nice views from our tent site!