Wonderland Day 6
July 28, 2019
Nickel Creek to Summerland: 11.2 miles
Woke up this morning fairly tired, and really needing to use the toilet. I got our bear bags down on the way back to camp and then started getting ready for the day. It’s our lowest mileage full day out here, but it’s going to have the most elevation gain - over 5,000 feet.
We left camp 10 before 7 and immediately started climbing. The first 2.5ish miles were completely in the forest and pretty buggy. And since my ability to climb without entertainment is officially shot, I listened to a podcast to help pass the incredibly steep climb. Once the trail opened up on the ridge, the podcast went away and I was able to enjoy the up/ down ridge walking and absolutely amazing views of not only Rainier, but the Tatoosh Range, Mt. Adams, and Goat Rocks! Once we hit the top of the climb, the views of Rainier were unbeatable. I’m so glad we saved this day for last and that the weather was perfect!
After more ridge walking, we started our descent to Indian Bar, where we were going to have lunch. On the way down, I ran into a group of women who we met on our first day near Mystic Lake. They loved my trail name, and remembered me! We chatted about everything we had seen so far, and how lucky we felt to be out here! They were so great. Once we reached Indian Bar, I immediately got water since the trail was dry from Nickel Creek until then, and started cold soaking my ramen. Will came up a few minutes after me and we hung out in the huge shelter, admiring the views above, which were gorgeous. We took a 2 hour break since we had plenty of time, and talked to some day hikers who came up a little while before we left.
Finally, it was time to leave, and we had to do the huge 1,500 ft climb over 1.7 miles. So basically, 1,000 ft/mi. I was pretty much dying, but had to keep reminding myself it was the last major sustained climb of the trip! I played tag with the shade and would walk until I got to a shaded area, then take a breather. It was so hot and the sun seemed to be directly on top of me. After about 1.5 hours I finally made it to the top where Will had been resting and waiting for me. Next up was the ~2 miles of intermittent snow fields. They weren’t too bad, but a couple were pretty steep and definitely sketchy if a wrong step was taken. I remembered the snow tips Hot Mess and Butters taught me in the Sierra last year and made it across just fine, though my ankle did not appreciate the slippery snow. During this stretch we passed through tons of beautiful streams, and saw a whole herd of mountain goats! And we were so high up and the day was clear enough that we could see Mt. Hood in the distance!
After all the snow crossings, we were finally on relatively stable ground and continued our descent to Summerland, filling up on water before hitting camp. This camp is absolutely gorgeous. People say to make sure you stay at Indian Bar or Summerland on your Wonderland hike, and I’m so happy we chose and got Summerland! We have a super secluded site (#5) that has amazing views of Mt. Rainier. We saw a rockfall/avalanche on the mountain from camp, and we have a couple of marmot friends that were modeling for us. Now we’re just waiting until bedtime, watching the clouds dance around the mountain and the sun start to dip behind Sunrise Ridge. It’s hard to believe tomorrow is our last day on trail! It’s all downhill to White River from here.
Some iPhone pics: