Short Thru-Hikes

Wonderland Day 4

July 26, 2019

Klapatche Park to Pyramid Creek: 13.6 miles

Woke up feeling decently well rested despite having stayed up until past 9 pm to capture the sunset on Mt. Rainier. We got off a little before 7, and I was sad to leave this beautiful campsite! We started climbing immediately, almost 700 feet in the first mile of the day, ugh. It was a very pretty climb though with lots of wildflowers and views of the mountain. The descent was pretty uneventful- just lots of trees and a dirt trail, but I did turn my ankle about 1 mile into it. It hurt pretty bad and I heard a crack, but it just sounded like my regular ankle crack. I had to sit down for a few minutes and give it a little rest before continuing down. It bothered me the rest of the downhill, so I just made sure to go super slow and really watch my footing. Unfortunately it was also really brushy and rocky the closer we got to the glacial river, which made for slow going. After crossing the river, we came across a great cold stream which I soaked my ankle in for a few minutes, and got water and took a snack break. 

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Now we started the second climb of the day up to Emerald Ridge. The ascent wasn’t too terrible, but it was pretty rocky, which is pretty much my least favorite type of trail. The ankle was feeling sore, but definitely got better going uphill rather than downhill. I got through the climb faster than usual, probably because I put on a podcast to help me up. Having something to distract myself from my heavy breathing and negative thoughts about the steepness of the climb really helps me keep going. Once I crested the ridge, I had stunning views of Rainier. The southwest side is definitely a mystery to me- I feel like I don’t see it often. It was just so wide and the glaciers looked so big. Will was waiting for me at the top, where we basked in the sun like marmots and had a snack break. We watched a helicopter fly around the Tahoma Glacier and few times, and Will said he saw a litter drop from the helicopter before I got there. I hope this was a rescue and not a recovery. 

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After our break we started the next descent. This part of the trail was so different that what we’ve encountered previously. Very rocky and volcanic and barren landscape with sparse trees and lots of exposure. Unfortunately, the rocky trail was not what my ankle needed, although it was feeling much better. Still, I was very cautious descending the loose, rocky trail. Eventually we hit tree cover and decided to take our lunch break near the Tahoma Suspension Bridge. I’m not a fan of doing lunch right before a big climb, but we moved pretty quickly in the morning, so we decided to take a longer break to digest lunch before heading up on our last climb. 

After lunch and a quick nap, we started climbing again to Indian Henry’s Hunting Grounds, which is a beautiful meadow with tons of wildflowers and a patrol cabin and cool views of Rainier (I feel like I’m starting to get repetitive with these descriptors). The climb was similar to the morning climb, but nowhere as bad as the climb to Klapatche yesterday. Before I knew it, I was at the top and met Will at the patrol cabin where other hikers were congregated. We sat around taking a decently long break, knowing that the rest of the day was downhill and only 3.5ish miles to camp. As we were leaving, we saw a helicopter fly into the mountain again and fly over the same area as it was in the morning. Hopefully everything is going ok up there. The descent was pretty typical for the Wonderland, through the woods. We passed the Devils Dream camp, which is notorious for mosquitos, and I went to the bathroom and there were soooo many mosquitos! It lives up to its name. Really could not recommend staying there. We descended for just another mile and a half, grabbing water at a stream before crossing Pyramid Creek and ending up at our campsite. I was starving when we got there, so immediately ate dinner before setting the tent up. Luckily, we have very few bugs at our site! 

After dinner and setting the tent up and doing bedtime things, Will and I looked at my ankle, which is now 3 times the size of the other one. I seriously don’t want to bail, and it doesn’t hurt that badly, so we decided that if it’s bruising in the morning, that will be our indicator that we need to leave the trail tomorrow when we get to Longmire. So, fingers crossed the 500 mg of ibuprofen I took tonight helps with swelling and nothing seriously bad has happened! I definitely want to finish this trail and see one of the most beautiful parts: the Panhandle Gap area! We’ll see what the ankle looks like tomorrow.

Some iPhone shots: