Wonderland Day 3
July 25, 2019
South Mowich River to Klapatche Park, 13.3 miles
I was super tired this morning. I even snoozed the alarm for 10 min! I did not want to sit up. My body is definitely aching from all this walking. I almost can’t believe I literally hiked all day long for 5 months last year. I’m dealing with the same beginning pains: joint tenderness, especially on my knees, weak ankles, hot spots on my feet, sore shoulders and triceps from using trekking poles, etc.
We eventually got moving only 10 minutes after 7, and started our morning climb to Golden Lakes. Its not very remarkable during the climb: just a lot of switchbacks in a forest. But once you crest the ridge there are amazing views of Rainier and soooo much bear grass. I was obsessed! The ridge walk reminded me so much of the PCT. Ridge walks are my favorite. After ~5 miles we reached the Golden Lakes campsite & ranger patrol cabin and took a decent break to air the feet out, filter water, and have snacks. Then, we descended two miles to a good water source and ate lunch there, taking an hour break.
After lunch was a little more downhill and then the afternoon climb started. We steeply ascended to the North Puyallup River which was so powerful. I was thankful to be on a very sturdy bridge many feet above the raging water. After the river, we climbed to the group campsite where there was a privy (and I got to use it). This whole area is very interesting. There used to be a paved road that went over here, but the massive flooding in 2006, which changed Mt. Rainier’s landscape drastically, caused the park service to decommission the road. Regular flooding still occurs and there is an active debris flow further west of the trail that keeps the road closed to this day (post-trip note: The Tahoma Glacier had a large debris flow just a week after our hike, causing further damage to the Westside Road. It’s true what they say: the mountain is always changing).
After the bathroom break, the climb to our campsite began. It was SO DIFFICULT. Short, but so so steep. I knew from the elevation profile on guthooks that it was going to be rough, so I put tunes on (Hamilton, since it has been stuck in my head for a few days) to help me through the climb. It didn’t give me a ton of energy, but at least it was better than hearing myself huff and puff. Will of course does ahead, but got us a great spot at Klapatche Park. Once I topped out on the climb, I was awestruck! We’ve been so lucky to have really good weather on this trip and be able to see all sides of the mountain so far. I’ve never really seen the western side, and today was full views of it! It has been fun identifying the glaciers and also slightly terrifying to think of people climbing this mountain! Some glaciers just look so big and scary. The mountain is just so powerful and dynamic.
Even though the climb to camp took forever, I got there around 5, with plenty of time left in the day! We have lots of sun in our camp spot, which was great for laying out my hiking clothes and having them dry off after that sweaty climb. I had a very relaxing evening around camp, including eating dinner by the pond in front of the camp and watching the frogs swim around and gazing at Rainier. I also chatted with two women who are on Day 7 of their trip and heard about all of their woes and good times. I always like meeting other people on trail and chatting with them. Everyone is just so much friendlier and relaxed. Now I’m just waiting for the light to get better so I can hopefully take some beautiful pics of Rainier glowing!
Some iPhone pics: