Wonderland Day 2
July 24, 2019
Dick Creek to South Mowich River: 12.4 miles
We turned in so early yesterday because of the weather. I think both of us were sound asleep by 8:30 pm, and I definitely slept through the night! Thank goodness too, since I’d been running on very little sleep. It was still cold and cloudy in the morning, but we finally did get some of the views from camp: a view of the Carbon River below us.
We broke camp at a good speed, and went straight downhill for one mile until the Spray Park Alternate Trail. We decided beforehand that we definitely wanted to take this alternate because the views are nicer and it’s filled with alpine meadows, which means wildflowers!! It adds almost 1,000 extra feet of elevation gain to the day, but we decided views were important. Let me tell you, the climb was rough! So steep all the way to Cataract Camp, where I met up with Will who had been waiting for me for quite a bit. The trail was a little gentler until it broke above the treeline. But of course, it got steeper again. No problem for me though, as I was stopping every few feet to take pictures of everything anyways! The flowers were gorgeous and the streams were so clear and lined with mossy banks. As we climbed higher and higher, views of the surrounding mountains and upper meadows opened up. I stopped in one spot for a while, taking pictures of flowers, when I looked up and saw a beautiful bear on the side of the hill above me! It was so pretty- a nice cinnamon color and was absolutely adorable, foraging for food and scratching it’s head. I love seeing bears, and this one way far enough away for it to not be too frightening. The trail continued up and around the backside of the hill though, so I periodically yelled “Hey Bear!” until I was climbing a different hill.
The downside of today was that Mt. Rainier was completely socked in all morning! There are supposed to be magnificent views of the mountain from Seattle and Spray Parks, but we didn’t get any. Good thing the other mountains in the distance were awesome!
Once we got to the top of the climb (finally) we were greeted with about 5 short snowfields over the last half mile or so. I was slightly nervous about the Spray Park snow, since I had read that it’s possible to go up too high, towards the mountain, but these were very easy traverses and easily navigable thanks to the painted rocks and cairns. Our descent was very enjoyable. Not too steep, and we chatted with many other hikers on the way down. We also had stellar views of the distant mountains, tarns, and flower filled meadows.
We descended a few more miles until reaching the Spray Falls side trail, which we wanted to stop for lunch at, but it was a small area and filled with day hikers. So we filled up our water for a dry lunch and continued down the trail to the Eagles Roost camp. It was still pretty cold during lunch and we were mostly in the shade. The sun was breaking through though, and sometime during lunch, all of the clouds above Rainier had cleared! Once we finished lunch, we got back on trail and walked down to a viewpoint of the mountain and it was glorious! Blue skies and such a different look to the mountain. It was cool seeing the different glaciers. Rainier almost looks taller from the north side. After this stop, the trail undulated up and down until we got back to the official Wonderland. We had no reason to go to Mowich Lake, so we continued descending to our camp at South Mowich River. The descent was very smooth - not many annoying rocks or roots, and the hiking was easy going, but still decently steep. Our camp is nestled between the south and north forks of the Mowich River and it’s a very nice, wooded area, though also home to a few mosquitos. Thankfully they didn’t bother me too bad. I think the Permethrin treated clothing helped!
We did bedtime routines and ate dinner, and then I went over and talked to our neighbors for a bit about the trail, and now it’s time for bed! Tomorrow is going to be another steep day with lots of climbing (even more than today!) but we heard that our next campsite is gorgeous!
A few iPhone snaps from the day: