Wonderland Day 5
July 27, 2019
Pyramid Creek to Nickel Creek: 16.5 miles
I was dreading waking up this morning and checking my ankle. But, I eventually did and saw that there was no bruising! And it didn’t feel as stiff as it did yesterday evening, so we decided to at least give it a go until Longmire. We finished getting ready and packing up in a slight drizzle that lasted for the better half of the morning, so I threw my rain jacket on and my camera into my backpack. The walk to Longmire was through forest that was very pretty and a little creepy in the fog. It reminded me of the Mt. Hood area on the PCT in Oregon. It was mostly downhill to the wilderness center, and we did the 3.3 miles in a little over 1.5 hours. Once we got to the center, we picked up our food cache and organized our food. It was sooo nice having a nearly empty food bag going into Longmire. At least I only added 2 days of food, so my pack isn’t nearly as heavy as the beginning of the hike, but carrying almost nothing was really nice while it lasted. We also got to use flush toilets while there and I got to see myself up close in the mirror (wow my hair is v interesting). I also threw out all of my trash and ate a bar on our break. As we were leaving, we went back into the warm wilderness center to donate the bucket back so another Wonderland hiker in need could use it.
The first couple of miles out of Longmire were pretty mild, with slight elevation gain. It was still drizzly and cloudy, and we were just walking through the forest, which was a theme for most of the day. We passed by 2 waterfalls, and had our permit checked for the first time.
Eventually the climb got steep and Will went ahead to Reflection Lakes, our lunch spot for the day. I put on a podcast and moseyed up the climb, eventually reaching the lakes. We hung out on the side of the road, sitting on warm pavement and the day hikers and car tourists gave us funny looks and probably could smell us. We looked like quite a sight - basically the definition of hiker trash. I kinda love it though. After an hour break we started hiking again. It was still pretty cloudy and there weren’t too many views, so I continued listening to podcasts as we went down the moderately rocky and brushy trail. About 2 miles in we reached the Steven’s Canyon washout which was a little nerve-wrecking but totally doable. Right after that we ran into a hiker we saw 2 days ago, which seemed fast to run into someone going in the opposite direction. Maybe she’s just doing sections.
After the washout, the trail kept descending. I’m really slow with descents now as I’m trying to not re-injure my ankle and/ or injure the other one. We passed some more waterfalls, and at the last one we passed, I realized I reeeeaallllyyy needed the bathroom. Since it was only a mile to Maple Creek camp, I clenched and booked it down ASAP. Thankfully the trail was very smooth, but there were a few moments where I didn’t know if I would make it! The toilet at that camp was nasty. Actually, the whole camp itself is not one I’d recommend. There were lots of bugs and it was steps from the trail, so not a lot of privacy. Thankfully we were continuing on. We did stop for a bit to take a break and talked to a large family about the Wonderland and permitting process. They were really nice. After a snack break, we walked over a really pretty creek (probably Maple Creek?) with beautiful coloring and mossy rocks.
We then began an ascent to the Box Canyon trailhead, which was navigationally interesting. They definitely had part of the trail closed so we had to walk down to the road and through a tunnel on the road instead of walking the trail above the overpass. It was slightly confusing bc there was no “Wonderland Trail detour sign” or anything, but we eventually figured it out. We stopped to use the flush toilets at Box Canyon and dump the trash we accumulated for the day. The main feature of Box Canyon is the slot canyon with glacier river water carving it’s easy through the rock. It was very neat. We also got views of Mt. Adams (forgot to mention earlier - it cleared up about 2 hours after lunchtime!). The last mile to camp was steep uphill and of course, I took my time. I also took a long break at Nickel Creek, just 0.1 from camp to fill up on water since it’s dry from here to Indian Bar, 6.7 miles and 3,000 ft elevation gain from here. So that’s going to be a fun carry *sarcasm*. I also met Don, or Dad Cap, a very nice man who is currently section hiking the PCT and doing lots of other backpacking trips too. We talked gear and PCT for a while before I realized Will was probably wondering what the heck happened to me, so I hurried up to camp, where he was waiting for the tent poles and stakes. He finished setting up the tent while I ate dinner, we did our bedtime routine and hung bear bags, and now we’re just resting and getting ready for our last full day on trail tomorrow!
Today was mentally testing me. It was definitely a full-day podcast day, and I just couldn’t really find a good groove hiking. These days happen, especially when on a thru-hike. I didn’t know if it would happen, but I think the weather, plus the fact it was a low-scenery day, contributed to my blah-ness. I’m definitely feeling the end of the trail, and am pretty ready for it to be done with, even though it’s been enjoyable for the most part. Thankfully it’s supposed to be a beautiful day and we’re going to see some of the most outstanding parts of the Wonderland! I can’t wait, even though the elevation gain is going to be an ass-kicker! Over 5,000 feet in about 11 miles, most of that being over 7 miles. Sounds fun, right?
Some iPhone pics: