The Wonderland Trail. Day 6.

Thursday, August 3, 2017 

I got me some huckle-tongue! 

I have the huckleberry daze in my eyes and the purple “huckle-tongue,” so it’s been a good day!

After a long night’s sleep I was up, comfortably at 5:10am. It was just starting to get the tiniest-bit light outside, and I felt sort of wild, like I could see in the dark. I didn’t even turn on my headlamp. I just crawled out from under my quilt (I’m using Adam’s down quilt on this trip because it’s lighter and packs down smaller – and I’m loving it over my mummy sleeping bag!), stuffed it away into its waterproof stuff sack, let the air out of my Neoair mattress, changed my clothes, rolled up my mattress, and started to set everything outside my tent in the dirt. At this point I had a pretty good routine down, and it felt so natural – so good. 

I was packed up and hiking out of the Eagle’s Roost campsite at 6am. Today was resupply day, and I really wasn’t sure how long that was going to take. A couple of hours? I really didn’t know. 

Every day you get a view of this beauty – from a different angle and in different light. Even with a little firesmoke haze, it’s so pretty.

On my two-mile hike to Mowich Lake where my bucket was waiting for me, I started to notice a few ripe huckleberries. I thought these guys wouldn’t be ready until late August. It was one of my trade-offs going a little earlier in the hiking season. Earlier and you get wildflowers and bugs. Later in the season you get berries and potentially cooler temps. I’m definitely not getting cooler temps (it is SO hot and dry – and I love it, mostly!), but I’m getting the wildflowers for sure, and now berries? They must be early because of the heat! Nice! I was able to pick a couple of handfuls – just enough to successfully acquire purple fingertips and a purple “huckle-tongue.” 


I arrived at Mowich Lake at about 7am and was out of there a whole lot faster than I thought I’d be – I was back on the trail at 8:15am! 

When I stepped up toward Mowich Lake there was a small campground – I smelled bacon. There’s a parking lot here and some car camping, so somebody was cooking some sort of delicious breakfast. I head right over to the ranger patrol cabin and found the bear-proof bin that holds resupply buckets. There she was! My bright green bucket covered in colorful duct tape and full of way too much food! 


Resupply and filling that clear bin on the picnic table with all my extras. That’s the hiker box.

I laid everything out on the picnic table that was right there, opened a package of prochuitto and started eating it while I worked. I added quite a lot of snacks to the hiker box, and neatly stuffed the rest into my backpack. I donated my precious green bucket to the NPS, treated some water, finished my bakers chocolate with some almond butter, saddled up my now heavier pack, and started my way back toward the trail. I walked along Mowich Lake, which was really pretty and quite inviting for a swim, but it was still pretty early and I wasn’t super-hot and sweaty. Yet. 

Mowich Lake in the morning light. If I hadn’t still been enjoying the coolness of morning, I’d totally have taken a dip!

Next up was the S. Mowich River crossing. This is another glacial river that comes down from the Mowich glacier way up on the mountain. So it’s large, silty, strong and can be quite angry. The nature of these glacial streams is interesting. In the afternoon they get higher and stronger as the sun beats down on the glacier all day, slowly melting it. Then overnight as it cools off, there is less melt-off, so the river lowers. 

So if there happens to be a bridge out, which was the case with the S. Mowich, it’s best to try crossing in the morning, as it’s going to be a little shallower, not as angry, and safer. Along the trail, talking to hikers who had already been through it, it sounded pretty scary. It’s kind of like the snow crossings. Everyone has a different comfort level with this stuff, so the ones that are the most freaked out by it are going to be the ones that want to warn you how dangerous it is, where the best place to cross is, how to get there, how the log is totally underwater and slippery and the current is sooo strong and it’s way too deep to wade and… and… and… 

Now, I certainly don’t disregard any information anyone tries to share when it comes to this stuff. These rivers are dangerous. People die in them every year. All it takes is a quick slip, and if you get swept down river with a pack on your back, you’re going to be in a pretty bad situation really quick. (Which reminds me – if you are ever crossing a river that looks really swift, it’s always a good idea to unclip your hip belt and sternum strap in case you do fall in – that way you can easily ditch your pack so it doesn’t try to push you underwater. You’ll have a much better chance getting out if you’re able to quickly shed your pack.) 

Pretty quick current going through there!

Anyway, I arrived to the crossing at about 10:30am, and I could see the old log bridge across the water. The current was flowing over the far end of it pretty good, but there was another smaller downed tree that someone laid down next to it that looked pretty sturdy, so I unbuckled my pack and started across. I’ve always had pretty good balance in these situations somehow, and I think wearing my super-minimal sandals really helped, too, because I could really feel the log’s surface and kind of set my feet in just the right spots. Before I knew it I was over the heaviest part of the river. There was one smaller section I had to cross yet, but I could tell it was pretty shallow, not very wide and not too strong. I took my time planting my trekking poles and my feet and just waded across. Then I looked back, kind of impressed with myself for not getting too freaked out, and started up a climb that would continue going up the rest of the way to my campsite. And it was getting HOT. 

Crossing the *easy* part of the S. Mowich River: 

Thankfully a lot of my climb was in forest, so it was shady. And I was actually feeling pretty awesome, steadily just crawling up, up and up. I got to Golden Lakes, where my camp was, at 2:30pm! It was so early, especially for being a 12-ish-mile day – I was so in the groove and feeling so good! I was also excited about my early arrival because I was able to grab one of the best sites there, in my opinion. I got site #4 which sat on kind of a ledge and had a really nice view of a mountain lake way down below. Wildfire smoke from up in Canada was still affecting the views, but it also made for great red sunsets, so I knew I had that to fall asleep to later. 

Ledge site with a view at Golden Lakes camp.

At Golden Lakes camp there’s a ranger patrol cabin (which was unoccupied and locked up when I was there), but just behind it is a small, clear lake with a tiny little stone island in the middle of it. I set up my tent, packed my little camp towel, spare sport bra and dinner stuff into my empty backpack, and head to the lake. Swimming time, baby! God I love this hike! 

Swimming hole!

At the lake I treated water before myself and the other campers had the same swimming thoughts and jumped in, stirring the water all up. Then I enjoyed my avocado dinner, and just as I was finishing up, others started to come down. At first it was just me, a lady I met (Mary) and her two younger daughters (I think the youngest was 13 years old and her sister looked to be maybe 17 or 18), and another girl around my age who was hiking her first solo trip. All of us girls chatted, got down to our hiker swimsuits and jumped in! It was so fantastic. Just cold enough to be refreshing, but not so cold that you wanted to jump right out again. So we hung out in the water for a long time. Then three more joined us! Two middle-aged guys and another lady – it turns out they thru-hiked the Wonderland Trail 20 years ago! And they all used to be park rangers out here! It was such a fun crew of people, and we really had a nice time swimming, chatting and relaxing. It is so nice getting to camp with time for this stuff! I could get used to this! I plan to do something similar tomorrow – I love this hike so much! 

My new favorite backpacking meal, demonstrated in cheesy video-style: 

After drying off in the sun and packing up all my sun-dried clothes, I head back to my quaint little camp and walked a little ways down the trail to a different view, sat quietly by myself and made a decaf coffee while enjoying some of my bakers chocolate with raw pecan butter. It was the perfect way to wrap up my day. After my little dessert I packed up my smellies and hung them all on the bear pole, crawled into my tent and watched the sky slowly glow to a deep, blood-red color through the tent mesh. I still have no need for a rainfly! It’s plenty warm at night so I don’t need it to hold the heat in, and there’s been a zero-percent chance for rain. Perfect. 

Decaf coffee during the golden hour at Golden Lakes camp with a view. Perfection.

This has been one of my favorite camps so far. Oh. And owls sound so fricking awesome in the mountains when their “who-cooks-for-you” echoes through the huge valley down below. 

Talk about a great way to doze off into sleep! 

Tonight I love avocados.

Dinner-time explosion.

My power drink. This is mountain stream water with Chia seeds and MCT oil.

The view over the ledge at my Golden Lakes campsite.

Some of my hiking today was through beautifully lush, shady forest.

Next to wild berries, this is my favorite dessert! Baker’s chocolate, raw pecan butter and a chunk of pork rind! Yum!

Trail gold!!

Oh, and this video is in fast forward – I don’t talk OR swim that fast! Haha! 

The Wonderland Trail. Day 5.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 

No big deal… I just hiked around a glacier today. 

Up high along the Spray Park alternate route. It was a good choice!

I woke up at 2am last night with some pretty gnarly heartburn. I had no way to sleep elevated, so I just sat up and stared, bored, into the dark forest around me for about 10 minutes until I felt better. Then all of a sudden I had to poop! So I frantically grabbed my headlamp and found my toilet bag and made the dark trek to the camp’s lovely 3-walled pit toilet. Yup. At 2am. I did feel much better afterward, so it was a worthwhile late-night trip. I think the pepperoni I ate for dinner went just a little too long unrefrigerated. That’s going in the next trash can I find. 

I woke up at 6am and got packed up and on the trail by 7am. I’ve been finding breakfast to be unnecessary right when I wake up, so I’ve really been enjoying just heading out without the fuss. I’ve also been feeling my best early in the morning before eating (well, besides some pink salt for electrolytes) – but also hiking in the cool of the day, most other hikers are still asleep or just waking up so the trail is quiet, and I have a better chance at seeing some wildlife. Oh, and I was the first one this morning to reach a surprise-patch of the most plump, beautiful salmon berries. Seriously, these are the prettiest berries! They’re just a little tart for flavor, so for someone that doesn’t eat much sugar anymore? Soooo good. Now that’s a breakfast! 

Rewarding early-morning views. That light!

Salmon berries! Are these not *the* prettiest berries ever? And hugest? Is that even a word? I don’t know! But these berries! So huge! So pretty! So colorful! Soooo delicious!

This morning in particular I watched a mamma deer and her fawn cautiously cross the tail directly in front of me all tranquil-like. Except that in the background the mountain was being angry. As I watched the peaceful scene unfold in front of me – these beautiful deer in the morning light, a large rock gave way somewhere on the mountain, and I could hear them crashing down, tumbling and echoing across the valley and into the forest I was standing in. I could almost feel the sound in my chest. It was actually very cool. I just hoped I was lucky enough to be able to see something like a rock fall happen – instead of just hearing it. 

Mamma deer. Little spotted fawn followed behind her.

A little further down the trail I got a pretty close look at Carbon glacier. Mt. Rainier has a bunch of glaciers coming down off of it, and the trail gets pretty close to a few of them, but not nearly close enough to be too dangerous. And I was surprised at their appearance. I always imagined glaciers like the ones you see on TV in Alaska – all blue and transparent. Or like the ones on Mt. Everest with the ginormous crevasses. These were just solid chunks of ice covered in rocks. But you could tell they were ice underneath because in a few spots the ice would be broken off where the sun must’ve melted and weakened a section until some of it gave way. 

Glaciers are dangerous. And really cool.

That giant chunk in the middle of the photo that looks like a pile of rocks is a glacier. You can see some of the spots where it’s melted in the sun and broken off. Bottom right is where the glacial-melt Carbon River comes out from under the glacier. I was completely intrigued by these things!!

As I stood there in awe of this crazy thing (this is the closest I’ve ever been to an actual glacier), I heard a deep “crrruuuunch” and saw a big rock, probably about half the size of a smartcar, let loose and tumble down over one of the broken-off ice chunks, taking a bunch of smaller rocks with it, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake. The sound was incredible. Just a loud, rock-tumbling “boom-boom-crack” that you could actually feel. I really don’t know how to describe it, but it was a really neat, new experience for me. 

I hope you’re able to hear it through the video:

That is Mt. Rainier – that big cloud of dust is from a huge rock slide. Kinda scary. Humbling. Mountains are crazy. And amazing.

There was a part of the trail this morning, too, that went down a steep slope to a river crossing, and it was so steep that there was a rope to help guide you down (or up if going the other direction). I threw my trekking poles down and climbed on down. It was fun! It’s like a playground out here! 

A knotted rope rigged to help hikers down (and up) a steep section of trail.

Speaking of playground, next up was this giant suspension bridge. But no, in all seriousness, as cool as this was, it’s definitely NOT the place to play around (too much). This thing is huge and spans across the Carbon River waaaay down below (which is melt-off from the crazy glacier I was talking about a minute ago). Once you get on it and start walking across it, your footfalls alone make it sort of bounce up and down slightly, and because your right foot lands, then your left, it also twists back and forth. So it kind of teeters in two directions at once. I’m really glad I’m not too afraid of heights! I think this thing would be incredibly terrifying if I was. It was a long drop down with only a cable to hold on to while wobbling up, down and side-to-side. But for me, it was fun. I even laid down in the middle of it… And maybe I shouldn’t admit to it, but I sat and dangled my feet over the edge of it, feeling the narrow boards tilt with my weight on one side. 

Suspension bridge over the Carbon River. So freakin’ fun! Glad I’m not afraid of heights!

Thankful for these bridges – that water down there is angry and wants to swallow up poor passing hikers!

After the suspension bridge I started to climb up towards Seattle and Spray Parks, which is an alternate section of the Wonderland Trail, but one I was told by a few people to take with no question. So I did. And I’m so glad. It was a suuuper hot day (word on the trail is that there are heat advisories in Seattle and Olympia nearby and that tomorrow it could reach 100° in the park! But who knows… Trail rumors are a thing. But then again, as hot as it was today, climbing up to the beauty that is Spray Park, I kind of believed it!) 

I stopped at a little babbling creek in the shade of what appeared to be one of the last good pine trees before ascending into some pretty exposed terrain. I treated some water, ate some lunch and really noticed how hot it was – even in my shady little oasis. Eventually I had to get up and move on. And it got much hotter. And much prettier. 

A perfect little break spot during my climb up to Spray Park.

As I climbed, there were trickling waterfalls lined with an array of vibrant wildflowers that bled into the meadows that stretched out all around me. The flowers were so abundant that the air smelled like cotton candy, and I was softly stepping along a little dirt ribbon of trail that wound through it all. I actually thought to myself as I walked through this perfectly naturally-landscaped scene, “Every day feels like a magical wonderland out here.” So I guess the trail’s name is truly appropriate! 

Wildflower-lined waterfalls and creeks wound their way all through Spray and Seattle Parks on the Spray Park alternate trail.

Higher up I popped open my sun umbrella to ward off a little more of the sun’s heat, as I was now climbing into some loose talus, or shale, or both. I followed a light path through the rocks by spotting a cairn off in the distance every so often. Once I was up and over that section, I found myself once again on a high, flat meadow – again with more flowers. 

On the way to the top before it got really rocky and hard to navigate in a few spots. Mt. Rainier is peeking at you!

More trail from up high where more flowery meadows start to show.

Then I saw a big brown bear! He was slowly walking along the edge of some pine trees right toward the trail I wanted to walk on. So I kept my distance and just watched him for a while. He even stopped in a shady spot for a bit, sat on his rump and scratched himself. Finally he stumbled on across my path and out of my view. I made some noise during all of this – you know, talking to him like an idiot and stuff, just to let him know I was there, but he couldn’t have cared less. He looked up at me once, bored-like, and kept doing what he was doing. I kept on chatting away and clanking my trekking poles together until I was through that area and feeling out of his zone. 

A big brown-colored black bear! I had to hang out for a while until he crossed my trail and moved on. I hope he liked my singing. ;)

On my descent down to camp, I swung into a side trail to Spray Falls to get some water for camp and wash up a bit. The cold water really felt refreshing, and I was the only one there. Spray Falls was impressive, too. I was glad I checked it out. I was pretty tired out from the day. It was something like a 12-mile day with a lot of climbing under a relentless hot sun. My feet were definitely feeling tired, too. 

Pretty Spray Falls. I had the place all to myself, so it made a nice spot to wash up.

I arrived at camp at around 4:40pm, so still fairly early. I set up my tent, ate a few snacks, took a nap, then tried to eat a little more but wasn’t feeling too hungry so I didn’t push it. As much as I love sunshine, I really thinking it’s been taking a toll on me out here. But damn, am I feeling glad it’s not raining at all! What great weather. Even if it is hot. I still love it. 

Camp at Eagle’s Roost.

Another night with no tent rainfly needed. Tomorrow morning I pick up my food cache. That’s going to be a fun experience. I just hope it doesn’t take too long, because I know I have waaaay too much food in that bucket! 

Time for resupply! Tomorrow!

Best new thing ever:

So today? Glaciers are super-cool and kind of alive, suspension bridges are fun, and my friends were right on – you can’t miss Spray Park. 

Tonight I love the Carbon glacier. That was damn cool.

Wanna cross the suspension bridge with me? 

Morning view of Mt. Rainier. Never gets boring.

Leaving Mystic Lake in the early morning. So glassy, calm and peaceful.

Remember the suspension bridge I mentioned? I laid down on it. Which was a little freaky. But fun.

I also hung my legs over the side – which was even freakier – because the whole thing kind of tilted in that direction. I was hanging on pretty hard.

Paintbrush flowers in Spray Park. I didn’t realize that shade of pink existed. I love it!

Another flower. Sick of them yet?

Because here’s more!

Spray Park is amazing. Be sure to take this route if you ever find yourself on the trail.

The Wonderland Trail. Day 4.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 

Bears and springs and rocks and side trips and swims and… 

This. This is where I belong. Here is where I am just simply… Happy.

I didn’t set my alarm last night, and naturally woke up at 7am. I unzipped my tent and stepped out. I stretched my arms up into the air and took a deep breath. I decided the first thing I’d do was walk down to the bear bins to retrieve my food bag. I started down the trail and a guy standing across the campsite from me says in a sudden tone, “Stop – bear.” I stopped in my tracks and looked down where he was looking. Sure enough, a smallish brown-colored bear was nibbling on the tender green tips of the tiny pine trees that were all over camp. And she was right by the bear bins! Guess I’ll wait to get my food! Then the same guy who warned me of the bear says, “and she’s got a cub. It’s up in that tree there” and he pointed to a pine tree in front of me a little ways. 

Mamma bear in our camp at Sunrise in the morning. So exciting!!

Of course I did what I do, and set back towards my tent and grabbed my phone so I could get some photos of my first bear(s) encounter on the Wonderland Trail! I took a few photos, but kept a safe distance. With all the people around, you could tell this mamma bear was totally used to us gawking. She didn’t care one bit that we were all around snapping photos of her. Then the cub came climbing down the tree and adorably bounded over by its mom. Seriously so cute. Now that’s the kind of bear encounter I like! 

Cute little cub! 

And mamma: 

She and her cub finally wandered down out of camp, so I was able to get my food and back to my morning of packing up. I was able to get out of there by 8:20am. 

I hiked into this beautiful meadow full of wildflowers (which never gets old!), and nearly tripped a bazillion times because I kept looking all around me. I had a great view of Mt. Rainier behind me, and all kinds of other mountains I don’t know the names of! 

Flowers & Mt. Rainier

Trail & Mt. Rainier

Way up on a talus field on one of the mountain sides I noticed little moving white spots. GOATS! There were three – two big and one little. A little goat family – billy, nanny and baby. I tried to grab a few photos, but they turned out pretty blurry because they were so far off. I kept track of them and watched them in awe how they walked across those tumbling rocks with so much ease. 

A long ways away, but can you spot the goats?

A little while later I heard a loud, “eeeeep!” and looked over to see a marmot! These guys are so adorable, too! He was a little shy, but he let me take a photo before running into the rocks to hide as I walked right past his sunning rock. 

Marty the Marmot!

Next I saw a squirrel. I know, just a squirrel, but I got within about a foot of him and watched him dig a hole, uncover a nut and eat it. That was a new one. 

Clydington, my new nut-eating squirrel friend. We hung out.

Then! I came across a spring right off the trail. I dropped my pack and decided this was the kind of spot I needed to stop and enjoy. I followed the path upward from where the water was seeping out of the ground, and I didn’t see any source except for the snow way far up the mountainside. Yup, a spring. I grabbed my bottle, dipped it in and took a drink. Ice cold, too. I sat there and drank and drank. It’s one of the best things when you can safely drink water in nature without putting chemicals in it or having to push it through some sort of filter. And all the little flowers and mosses that were around? It was great. 

Best water, in my opinion, on the Wonderland Trail! It’s a spring that didn’t need treatment, so… Win!

While I sat at the spring filling my belly with water, a young guy walked by. I said hello, but he seemed kind of shy. I asked him if he was hiking the loop and he said it was his last day! I asked him what he was getting to eat when he gets off the trail, and he lit right up. Without a moment’s hesitation he said “a bonzai burger from Red Robin.” I laughed. Perfect! I snacked on some nuts, filled up as much water as I wanted to carry up the hill ahead, and moved on. 

I took a side trail up a mountain because I had time. So why not!? I met a really friendly couple that were also climbing it, so it was nice to have some friends to share that with. The mountain is called skyscraper peak, and from the top you get a huge, majestic view of Mt. Rainier on one side and to the north you can see Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker. It was such a nice, clear day! But at the very tippy top summit I was greeted by a complete swarm of some kind of flying ant. They didn’t bite, but they were flying all over like they were drunk. They must have just hatched. They were landing all over me, flying down my shirt and into my ears… Yuk! Needless to say, I didn’t last long up there. I snapped a few photos and head back down. It was still worth the views, though. 

The climb to the tippy top of skyscraper peak rewarded me with a grand view of Mt. Rainier.

And a great view from the other direction. I don’t think they’re visible here, but I was able to see Granite Peak and Mt. Baker on the horizon.

Bug swarm at the peak! I shook about five out of my shirt later on. Awwww, nature.

A little further down the trail I met a friendly hiker named Brandon. The irises of his eyes were surrounded by red, solid bloodshot, and he explained that he was scuba diving, and failed to just let a little air out of his nose, felt a pinch in his eyes and got what is called “mask squeeze.” He said he’ll fully recover from it, but it can last for up to a month. (I later hoped I could meet up with him because I really want to give him the trail name “red-eye.”) 

Almost to my camp near Mystic Lake, I climbed. The sun was beating me down pretty bad so I popped open my umbrella. It helped a little, but the angle wasn’t quite right so the sun kept peeking in. I have to work on my rig a little to get it just right. I think it still helped a little bit. 

I finally arrived at camp at 3:45pm. I was glad I got there so early because I heard the walk up to Mystic Lake was worth it. Not only is it a pretty mountain lake, but it’s also a swimming lake! I was so hot and sweaty, I could barely wait. I immediately picked a spot, set up my tent, put all the stuff I didn’t need at the lake in there, then put my food and change of clothes in my pack and head for the lake. 

Mystic Lake sunshine happiness!

Brandon joined me shortly after I got there, and it was really nice to talk to him. He’s a runner, wants to get into ultras (I told him about the “Ten Junk Miles” podcast – he’s gonna love it!), he’s usually an aggressive hiker but taking this trip easy, and was excited about seeing if he find a summit guide service after his hike that has a cancelation so he climb Mt. Rainier! We seemed to have a lot in common, so it was pretty easy to talk to him. I hope he gets to summit!! 

I jumped into the lake and swam, avoided a thousand ants that were crawling all over, swatted a few flies and mosquitoes, ate dinner, and probably added another light layer of sunburn on top of my current sunburn. God I love summer. Especially out here. Bugs and all. 

Happy! (And about to take a “hiker bath.”)

After the lake fun I made my way back down to camp, hung my smellies on the bear pole and crashed out pretty quick. I was beat after another long, hot, sunny, tough, incredible day. 

Hey! I saw a bear today! And goats! And a marmot! *sigh* What a day… 

Tonight I love the stupid bugs. Because you know why? Look where I am! I’ll take the bugs if it means I’m doing exactly what I’m doing right now.

Rushing river crossing before the hot, exposed climb up towards camp.

Baby huckleberries. Too early in the season… Boo.

My simple little camp at Mystic.

The path up skyscraper peak. Can you see it?

More pretty meadow from the day.

Daily foot shot! They’re doing great! I love my strong feet!

That, my friends, is an active glacier – the Winthrop Glacier, to be specific, and I’ve got more super-awesome glacier stuff to share tomorrow! 

The Wonderland Trail. Day 3.

Monday, July 31, 2017 

Who neros on a 93-mile thru hike? Me. 

Dusk on the Wonderland Trail.

Well, it’s just the way my itinerary worked out. Day three was only a 3-mile day. Well, actually, it ended up being about five because I had left the trail a couple of miles short of the White River campground with Adam the day before. But still. That’s a short day! So I totally slept in and took my time getting going and hanging out with Adam. I took a nero. And it was splendid after such an intense day. 

My calves especially appreciated the break. They were pretty sore from all that snow walking. You just end up using weird muscles you only put to use in just the right combination when hiking on afternoon soft mountain snow. And I was sunburned, too. Not only is the sun a bit more intense up there, it reflects off of the bright snow fields, too. So I was most likely a little dehydrated on top of all that as well. A short little hiking day was perfect. 

I reorganized my food and left about 2/3 of it behind for the next stretch (seriously brought way too much! It’s crazy, this keto thing!) While I was getting my backpack ready to go, Adam pulled out his fancy Coleman stove and cooked up some scrambled eggs and percolated some coffee for me. What a great breakfast! 

Before I knew it it was after noon and I was on the trail, hugging Adam a final good-bye – he was heading off to do his own thing, so I wouldn’t see him until my last day. 

Even on a short day, I can’t go without a great view of this beauty. I love her.

What exactly is Adam doing while I’m hiking? I don’t know for sure, and neither did he, which was part of his plan. He tossed around the idea of visiting a friend in Portland, but wasn’t sure he wanted to drive so far. He was definitely going to hit up a county fair he found in Lacey, WA where he’d get a corn dog, maybe a caramel apple (where better to get one of those than Washington state!?), and walk the midway (hopefully winning me a teddy bear, of course!) 

He did end up going to the fair! I didn’t get a teddy bear, but that’s OK.

He also thought he might try to intercept PRT. For those of you that followed my PCT thru hike, you’ll remember PRT (stands for Pacific REST Trail because they took so many zero days). This was a group of fun hikers we met and became good friends with – mostly Adam because he had the Pickle Jar (our car) and met up with them a lot along the way. Anyway, three of them (Dishcloth, Hoop Dreams and Peter Pan) are hiking the last 200 miles of the PCT up to Canada at the same time I’m out here on the Wonderland Trail. (I ALMOST joined them… But this trail was pulling me hard.) So I hope he gets a chance to meet up with them and provide some trail magic like he does – totally “Aloha-ing.” 

And he met up with PRT. I am a little jealous. Wish I could’ve been in two places at once! Sad I missed seeing these guys!

So who knows! I’m excited to hear all about whatever it is that he decided to do. He seemed pretty happy with how loose his schedule was. Maybe he just holed up in a hotel room and watched movies! I’m sure whatever he’s doing, he’s having a great time. 

He also met up with our friend, Lighthouse (also a fellow PCT 2013 thru-hiker). Again, a little jealous and sad I couldn’t do all the things. ;)

This was also in his photos. Thankfully he didn’t spend any time here. I’m sort of a big fan of his chest hair. ☺️

So back to the WT – I hiked uphill from where Adam dropped me off to Sunrise camp, and on the way I met a super-friendly guy who is friends with Doodles, a girl I met on the PCT, who also thru-hiked that year! Small world! Unfortunately I forgot to ask his name. I need to get better with that! 

When I arrived at the Sunrise area, it was bustling with day-tourists because it’s pretty close to a wilderness center, parking lot and day hike loops. There was also a group of teenagers staying at the group site there, so there was a lot of people around. But I didn’t care. I was just content with everything. 

A well-worn trail near Sunrise camp. Busy, but for good reason! So pretty.

I arrived at camp around 3:45pm and picked a nice little site (#8) at the end of the individual campsite area. It was a short walk down to Shadow Lake where I just sat for a while and watched some kids swim and day people take photos of all the flowers. The black flies came out and I got a few bites, which really swelled up. One bit me on my pinky finger and it swelled so big that I couldn’t bend it! Nasty little buggers. I retreated to my tent for a reprieve, wrote in my journal and took a nap. 

Shadow Lake.

Shadow Lake resident.

I had bone broth for dinner, as I wasn’t super hungry, then walked back down by the lake one more time. It was empty, now. I laid down and just enjoyed the sky and the quiet for a little while, then retreated to my tent, getting to bed around 9:15pm. I didn’t set an alarm. 

Mmm, bone broth with garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper, green and red bell pepper, and onion. And way more filling than you’d think!

A colorful good-night tent selfie.

Tonight I love sleeping in my tent. Especially when I don’t need my rainfly.

Sunrise camp, night three.

Stuff pile!

Sunrise area at dusk. 

And, of course, the Sunrise area was loaded with wildflowers. It’s kind of been a daily thing out here! And I’ll keep showing photos of them!



One more flower photo.

I lied. One more. :)

The Wonderland Trail. Day 2.

Sunday, July 30, 2017 

All the things Wonderland – in one day. 

Mountains in my eyes. Yup, the windows to my soul. Right here.

Today was a really long day. It was also quite challenging terrain. And sunny. And hot. And hard. And so beautiful that I barely noticed all the hard things. And when I did notice something was hard, I was quickly distracted by something amazing. It was… just… too much amazingness. I have to make up new words to describe things out here. I am so in love. 

No, really. It’s real.

The plan was to hike just a little over 18 miles from my Nickel Creek camp to White River campground (over one of the most scenic sections of the whole trail!). After a very comfortable night (with barely any bugs!), I was up at 5am. Adam and I had everything packed up and ready to go by 6am. He decided to stick around one more night, so his plan was to meet me at White River campground where I was going to end my long day… So… Slack pack, baby!! I gave him my extra food, my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and a few other small things. All together I probably lessened my load by 6 or 7 pounds. So nice! 

This guy! Carrying out a few things I didn’t need to carry on my 18-mile day.

I hit the trail around 6:30am, and shortly thereafter realized I wasn’t at all sore from the day before! And that was a long first day! Could it be that this keto thing kinda works? I was giggling to myself after I took a swig from my bottle filled with water, Chia seeds and MTC oil, imagining my liver saying, “Hey! Gimme that! I know what to do with that! Ketones, baby!” Or at least I hope it goes something like that. These quick recoveries can keep happening, I won’t mind! But it’s only day 2, so we’ll see how it goes. Keto while backpacking is new to me, so I’m guessing there’s going to be some learning happening. Maybe I’ll still crash and burn. I know it’s a possibility. 

On I hiked, all up, for what seems like hours. Wait. It literally was hours. These climbs and descents out here are crazy long. 

Eventually I popped out of the forested climb to some amazing views of Mt. Rainier, and I even caught a nice glimpse of Mt. Adams off on the horizon behind me. I crossed a few small snowfields and quickly realized that my Bedrock sandals were pretty slippery on snow. I didn’t mind the cold, wet toes, but I was finding it difficult to walk confidently. 

Mt. Adams off in the distance behind me- such a clear day!

I tried to capture pictures of the wildflowers up there, but the photos just didn’t do it justice. There were so many bright purples, yellows, pinks, fluffy whites… And they were everywhere. 

Completely UNreal. Flowers. Dude.

On my climb down out of this meadowy wonderland down to what’s known as Indian Bar, I met a hiker that was pretty wound up about the snow that was ahead of me up high – after I climbed back out of Indian Bar. She said she slipped in the snow (the ranger even warned me of the large snow fields up there when I obtained my permit), and that slip sent her sliding down. She said she almost slid off – whatever that means. She tried giving me all kinds of directions like which way to turn after the 3rd, or was it the 4th, snow flag (how they mark the trail when it’s covered in snow), and where to take the high footpath, by some boulders, and… I was so confused. It was her first time ever hiking in snow, so she was already really nervous, so after we head off in different directions I realized she passed a little of her nervousness on to me. Then I started to think about it. I was pretty sure I’d be just fine up there. Man, fear-mongering even happens on shorter trails! I tried to tell myself that’s all it was, anyway. Going up there all tense was probably the worst thing I could do. So I leaned in on my experience and decided to take it as it came. 

I got down to Indian Bar, and it was more beautiful than anyone has tried to describe to me. There is a camp here, and I felt envy towards the lucky dogs that were able to get this as one of their campsites. There was a group shelter that looked like a quaint little brick cabin smack in the middle of a wildflower-laden bowl surrounded by lush mountainsides in every direction and a clear, cold river running right through the middle of it all. Sounds too perfect, right? Yeah, I know. Because it is. But I’m not kidding. 

The shelter at Indian Bar. I could stay here forever.

I happily took a long break at that river and ate the bag of salad from Adam, mixed with my avocado, olives, parmesan cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and more everything bagel seasoning. I felt all gourmet – it was so delicious! I also ate the cucumber straight up, crunching away happily. 

Backcountry ziplock-shaken salad. Deeelish!

Right before I left, I rigged up my lightweight umbrella to my pack strap, and was surprised that it worked! Now I was protected from the sun and could still use my trekking poles. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I also changed into my Topo hiking shoes for the upcoming snow fields. I at least knew I had to change shoes for this. 

Successful rig. What a lifesaver up on the exposed snow fields. (if this photo is upside down, blame WordPress! I tried everything.)

Then I climbed out of Indian Bar. That was an insanely long, steep climb. And it go so hot. I just took it slow as molasses and tried to keep my heart rate at a somewhat steady beat – just something I could maintain. I did okay and made it to the top, but I was pretty worn out. Again, though, it was so pretty all the way up that I was continually distracted from my pounding heart, sweaty face and rubberized legs. 

I looked out ahead of me once I reached the top and took in the endless field of white. So much snow. I stepped on the already-established footpath and hiked on. I was using muscles that don’t get worked a lot because of the way your foot shifts in the slippery snow, so it was slow-going and tiring. 

So much snow – such expansive, amazing views!

But then I saw my footpath again, but way below me. I didn’t think too hard about it – I pulled out the groundcloth for my tent, sat on it, and glissaded on my butt down to the path! It was cold, invigorating and sooo much fun! I was laughing out loud at the bottom, just happy with life in general. I was in this amazing, gorgeous place, and I basically just went sledding, on my ass, down a mountain, in the middle of the summer. I love the mountains. 

If the video above isn’t working, click here to go to YouTube to see it.

More snow! And another great view of Mt. Adams.

Then I hiked along the edge of this little rocky prominence, and got a little to close to the edge. At the edge of snow and rock, the snow can be a little unstable, and I knew this, but for some reason I didn’t let my experience surface here. I took a step and down I went. I broke through the snow, postholing up to just above my knees. My right shin scraped along snow and the rock below, and my left knee caught the edge of another rock. I was able to easily crawl out, but I ended up with a pretty nasty gash on my shin. I kneeled in the snow for a couple of minutes, got up and hiked on, being sure to keep my distance from the rock/snow edges when I could help it. 

Hardcore. These scars will be my WT 2017 souvenirs.

After climbing through more snow, glissading a couple more times, and eventually over panhandle gap, I began a descent toward Summerland where the snow eventually petered out into fluorescent meadows of trickling snowmelt streams, flowers and moss in shades of color that don’t yet have a name. I took one more break near a wild river to treat some water, eat my leftover salad, and change back into my sandals for the rest of the long descent down to White River campground. 

Again, if the above video isn’t working for some reason, click here to see it in YouTube. 

As I was coming around the bend of a switchback, super-tired and maybe slogging a little bit, I heard a lady exclaim, “Toots Magoots!” Oh boy…. I did not recognize this person, and felt totally awkward because she obviously knew me. So I flat out asked her, “Uh-uh, I’m sorry I don’t recognize you… How do you know me?” And she replied, all smiles, “We met your husband! He was down at the road with cold drinks, chairs, and blueberries! Doing trail magic!” Hah! Of course he was! Is he seriously not the best ever!? I laughed and just tiredly replied, “Aww, that’s great. He just loves doing that for hikers! I hope he saves me some blueberries!” (which he did, of course). 

I had an extra pep in my step with this new knowledge that Adam was waiting for me at the bottom of this descent, but I still had a long three miles to trudge. About a mile from where he was I knew I was going to have to poop (I promise this won’t be poopy-graphic, but stick with me here). I couldn’t wait. I scoped out a spot in the woods (this was a pretty busy trail very close to a road, so I had to be extra careful with my chosen spot). It was a steep downhill slope, but I got a hole dug, got myself all set up and in position and I heard a noise uphill. I looked up and there stood a deer. Very close. He just stared at me! Then he walked around me, cautiously, and even came in a little closer to check me out. I was actually trying not to laugh out loud, as I didn’t want to scare him away. So, yeah. A deer watched me poop today. That was one of my very best, most entertaining backcountry poops ever. What a day! 

This deer watched me poop. Most entertaining backcountry poo ever! I love the woods!

At around 5:45pm, after 11+ hours of hard hiking, I saw Adam, sitting in a camp chair along the edge of the hiking trail. I sat with him a bit and we chatted about our day. Then we hauled everything down to the car, I got in, munched on some blueberries, and we head to White River campground. We were able to get a car camping site, which was a treat because we were allowed to have a campfire (none of the backcountry sites allow campfires). We cooked hot dogs for dinner and Adam made percolated coffee. We played a couple games of cribbage, I took advantage of the flushy toilets, running water, and garbage cans, and we snuggled up in our Hubba Hubba tent for a second night. And tomorrow I’m sleeping in, as I have a short day! I’m one lucky hiker! 

Campfires aren’t allowed in backcountry camps on the WT, but I was lucky that Adam stuck around and had a car-camping site with a fire ring. So we enjoyed percolated coffee and hot dogs for dinner!

The last night I get to see this guy in a while! Love him so much! 

Today was just… epic. It’s an overused word, I’m sure, but I can’t think of one more appropriate for today. Climbs, descents, views, valleys, flowers, streams, snowfields, post holing, glissades, exhaustion, a deer watching me poop, blueberries, campfire, coffee and cribbage with my favorite person? 



Tonight I love glissading! So much fun!

Wearing the sandals in the snow was pretty slickery. I changed into my Topos for the big snowfields up high, and glad I did. I think it would’ve been super slow-going otherwise.

Morning dewy trail and a view of Mt. Rainier.


This was a SUPER-hard, hot climb out of Indian Bar. But so pretty I almost didn’t care.

I wasn’t sure I’d like the umbrella. But it was a lifesaver up on the sun-exposed snow fields!

I had to. Kinda limited for decorative supplies up there, though! Looks like he’s wearing shades.

A very well-maintained and easy-to-follow trail. These bridges are great.

The colors of the wildflowers and mosses that lined snowmelt streams coming down from the Panhandle Gap were crazy.

No filters! Real color! Crazy, right!?

Day two and already one of my new favorite places on the planet. So far. :)

The Wonderland Trail. Day 1.

Saturday, July 29, 2017 

“What a fantastic f&$@ing day.” 

That’s the last thing I wrote in my journal for the day, and pretty much sums it up in one sentence. I already love this hike and I’ve only done one day! 

The start! All clean and fresh! So ready to make this thing happen!

We woke up in our hotel in Tacoma early after about five hours of sleep. Eh, that’s enough! Before we left and I forgot in the excitement of the day, Adam tore the tightly-locked lids off of my green food cache buckets so I could add my precious pork rinds and pistachios that I forgot to put in there! Then I generously duct taped the lids back on. “It’ll work,” I thought. 

We swung through a Starbucks so I could get one last delicious cappuccino made with heavy whipping cream before I hit the woods for nine days. I can’t think of a better breakfast! I also ate an avocado, so I was full and ready to go by the time we arrived at Longmire. 

I spread out my gear on a picnic table one last time just to be sure I had everything, and with 3-days of food and 40oz. of water my pack weighed about 25lbs. I conveniently accidentally brought my luggage scale (seriously, it was packed in a stuff sack inside my backpack – I’m just glad I noticed it and didn’t carry it needlessly for 93 miles!) I repacked my pack and hit the trail at 9:15am. Not bad! 

I decided not to get too obsessive with mileages, elevation gains and whatever else stats on this trip. I kinda knew what I was going to be doing each day for planning purposes, but I wasn’t going to run my Garmin or anything. I wanted to just hike and take it easy. I’ll mention mileages throughout my journal, but they’re all “close enough” roundabout numbers. The signs and maps for this trail are all different from each other, too. The only way I’d know for sure is to run the gps on my watch, which, as I mentioned, wasn’t going to happen. Then I’d have to worry about keeping it charged, and yada yada yada. Not this trip! 

With that being said, I think day one was around 15 miles. It may have realistically been about 13.5? I dunno. It was somewhere in there, and it was a bigger first day than I’d hoped for. But I dove right in like I do! I was so excited to be on the trail, it could’ve been a 30-mile day and I’d still have smiled just as much! 

Mt. Rainier from the Nisqually River on the Wonderland Trail

My first on-trail view of Mt. Rainier from the Nisqually River crossing! So amazing!

I got my first nice view of Mt. Rainier from the Nisqually River crossing. I realized quickly that when trying to take a selfie with a ginormous mountain behind you, you have to sort of angle the camera up from below. Otherwise it’s just your face and some rocks. I hoped I could get the hang of it by the end of the trip so I had a few good photos of my face with my new bestest buddy, the mountain. 

I had to get used to taking selfies with the mountain. If you don’t angle it from below you miss it altogether!

The whole first half of the day was a climb. It was tough, but I just kept climbing. And climbing. Two hours in, sweaty and hot, I already started to crave a cold seltzer water. I think I mostly just wanted something cold. 

I passed by some pretty great waterfalls tucked into to the forest, and eventually popped out at Reflection Lakes, which is a gorgeous lake with a majestic view of Mt. Rainier. It’s also a popular pull-off spot for car tourists, and since it was a Saturday, there were tons of people. I didn’t care, though. I just plopped myself down in a pretty spot, treated my water, grabbed a quick snack and moved on. 

Reflection Lakes.

The view of Mt. Rainier at Reflection Lakes.

A couple of hours later I stopped by Martha falls (so many waterfalls!). During this break I treated more water and ate my avocado lunch (which is avocado, tuna, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pink sea salt, and everything bagel seasoning. I’ll probably mention this a few times. As it turns out, this is becoming a go-to backpacking meal for me.) 

Breaktime at Martha Falls.

I also switched out to my Topo hiking shoes at Martha Falls. I started in my Bedrock sandals, and it was going great! I absolutely loved hiking in them! My toes got to be all natural and spread out like they like to do, and I could feel the rocks and roots and all the things under my feet. I really love that connection with the earth (to sound all hippity-dippity) when wearing minimal footwear. And our feet have all these crazy bones and tendons and things in them that makes them so mechanically amazing! I just felt happy wearing them and taking advantage of all that cool stuff. Feet are neat. But… Hiking in sandals definitely takes some getting used to, and I’d only done a few training hikes and a few runs in them prior to this trip, so I was nervous about how it would go wearing them for so long. 

So far, so good! Love hiking in these guys! They also make great camp shoes. (Bedrock sandals)

I arrived at Box Canyon, which is another popular car-tourist pull-off spot. My first day actually kind of followed the main park road, so I crossed over it quite a bit and saw a lot of people. It was a little crazy at times, but I just kept on doing my backpacking thing. Box canyon had flush toilets, which I used, running sinks, which I used, and a water spigot, which I also used. Then I hiked the small loop that makes this spot so popular and gazed way down into the deep canyon. It was pretty intimidating. Pretty cool spot. 

Box Canyon. It’s hard to tell, but that’s a long, narrow way down! Something like 180 feet down! 

I had just a short ways to camp after Box Canyon, so I head back into the woods. I arrived at camp around 5:15pm, picked a site and set up my tent. I head back down trail to Nickel Creek, washed up a bit and head back to camp. Adam said he might meet me at camp, so I kept looking up the trail, hoping I’d see him sauntering along. But I didn’t. He was out dropping my food buckets while I hiked all day, and I know that his chore could easily be an all-day event, so I figured there was a pretty good chance I wouldn’t see him. But I still hoped. 

I ate dinner, then ate some chocolate, and was just starting to get ready for bed brushing my teeth, when about 7:45 pm, in came Adam!! Wearing his backpack, looking all hiker-ish! I was so excited he came out!! And he is so sweet and such a trail angel at the core. He brought me a cold seltzer, salad (which I was actually thinking about earlier) and a freakin cucumber! He’s amazing. I’d already eaten, though, so I thought I’d save it for the next day hiking. 

Camping buddy on my first night! Yaaaay!

I did just fine sticking to keto eating. In fact, I found that I don’t need nearly as much food as I thought. I had waaaay too much. I planned to send some back with Adam so I wouldn’t have to carry it the next day. It was going to be my biggest day, so I could use all the help I could get to keep it as comfortable as possible. 

Food reevaluation – a lot of this went back with Adam.

I hung all of our food and smellies on the bear pole, and we were asleep shortly after. 

Yup. I’m really going to like this trail. 

Tonight I love hiked-in trail magic by my favorite trail angel, Aloha!

These ferns towered over me!! Fern-shade, yeah!

I slipped and fell here – you can kind of see where my foot slipped between the two big rocks on the lower-left of the photo – if I hadn’t caught my butt cheek on one of those rocks… it was a long ways down a crumbly washout to a river below! Eek!

A neat section of river just before Box Canyon.

Sylvia Falls. A very worthwhile, short sidetrip off the Wonderland Trail!


My upcoming birthday adventure

Ohmygosh I’m going backpacking!!

Tomorrow is my birthday, and oh, I dunno, about two or three years ago, I decided I’d plan a backpacking trip to celebrate this one. Or, in more honest terms, use my birthday as an excuse to plan an epic backpacking trip. There’s no significance to it this year, I’m turning 38. Who cares. But the past two years wouldn’t have worked out for one reason or another, so this was just the next one in line. So Adam and I tentatively set aside a couple of weeks around my birthday in 2017 so I could plan something. 

I decided on a trail that’s been on my list for a while. Well, again, to be honest, I think every (and any) trail is on my list, but this one just happens to be pretty high up there. It’s the Wonderland Trail. 

The Wonderland Trail is in Mt. Ranier National Park in Washington State and circumnavigates Mt. Rainier (14,410 ft). So to be clear, I won’t be climbing or summiting the mountain (or technically, volcano), but I’ll be hiking 93 miles around the base of it. I’ve seen photos and they’re unbelievably gorgeous, and the elevation gain is impressive – cumulatively hitting 22,000 feet gain and loss. Sounds tough and pretty, it’s a thru-hike that’s only 93 miles and I can do it within a reasonable amount of vacation time. Perfect! Tough and pretty is my favorite combo! I plan to hike it in 9 days. I think I could do it in less, but I’ve made a couple of goals for this hike, and stretching it out to nine days just made sense. 

Goal #1: Backpack it solo. I was originally going to drag my mom and dad along with me, but there is actually a family reunion of sorts happening in California that they are going to instead (which I sadly had to decide against – I’ve had this trip on the calendar for a long time, and it’s an opportunity I couldn’t stomach to pass up.) So solo it is. I’ve been wanting to do more solo trips to test myself, anyway. We’ll see how this goes. I honestly think I enjoy hiking with friends more. I worry I’ll get lonely, or freaked out in my tent at night. But, this is why I’m doing it. To challenge myself. 

Training hikes! So fun!

Goal #2: Take my time. Instead of planning to hike the whole thing in 5 or 6 days, which I’m sure I could do if I wanted to, I decided to stretch it out to nine and try to take my time. You know, take the climbs nice and easy, stop in meadows and sit while I eat a snack, soak my feet in streams, take tons of photos (obviously), play with marmots… Things like that. 

I will also stop to pick fresh berries if I find any. Of course!

Goal #3: Eat keto. This was kind of a newer addition as I’ve adapted the ketogenic way of eating a couple of months ago. I’ve gotten my body to make abundant ketones pretty easily and using fat and these ketones for fuel instead of sugar. So my hope is that I’ll have longer sustained energy instead of the short rushes I used to get from eating a Hostess fruit pie, then crash and need more processed sugar/junk to keep going (and also suffer from GI issues). I also think I’ll be able to carry less because the foods I now eat are so much more calorie/nutrient dense than the old junk I used to bring along. But I’ll probably bring way too much food anyway, because that’s what I do best! 

Just a few keto-friendly snacks I’ll be bringing along. It’s all such yummy food!

So my plan to hike the Wonderland Trail is still tentative, though. In March I worked really hard studying maps, pouring over pre-set suggested itineraries and mileage charts and eventually came up with a custom itinerary that I was really happy with. I even went as far to plan out my resupplies (there will be two) and what I’d include in each box. I chose to start in a not-so-popular starting spot (it’s one big loop, so you can really start at any point on the loop), I chose to hike counter-clockwise, which is apparently more difficult, therefore less popular, and I chose to start on a weekday instead of a weekend. I figured this would help my chances at getting a permit. 

The permit process seems pretty fair, considering they receive thousands of requests each year. In fact, this year they received a record whopping 5,900 permit requests!  2,500 of those (including my one little, itty, bitty request) were for the full 93-mile thru-hiker. And how many can they usually accommodate? 450. So it’s not a huge surprise I was denied my request for a permit this year. The way they do it is allow you to submit a request between March 15 and April 1 – any time in that window, then they are chosen at random once that window closes. So you don’t have to rush to the computer first thing on the morning of March 15 to try to be the first in line. So that was nice. I still got mine in pretty early, as it was ready to roll, but I just wasn’t one of the lucky ones. Bummer. 

Thankfully there’s still hope. They save 30% of their yearly permits for walk-ups. This means I can show up at a ranger station a day or two before I’d like to start my trip and work with a ranger to come up with an itinerary that’ll satisfy me. So I’m going to give it a shot. I’ve got the time off already, it’s a trail I’ve wanted to do forever, I’ve planned it all out already, so I might at well just head there and see if I can get on the trail. I’m going to try to be flexible, but if I can’t work out something I’m happy with, I’m not going to settle, either. I’ll save it for another time and explore Glacier National Park instead – or something. But I have pretty high hopes something will work out. In the end, whatever happens, it’s going to be fun. 

Also! As much as I’m looking forward to taking a solo backpacking adventure, one of the big parts of this vacation is the trip out there and back. Adam and I decided to take our Subaru (PJ2) on the trip, too. So we’ll be driving there and back, and I am looking forward to the road trip with Adam just as much as the hiking. We love road tripping. So, so much. Even though we drive for a living, jumping into our own vehicle, being on our own time line, not having to pull into weigh stations, clock every move into an electronic log and worry about truck routes is going to be such a nice break! We’re going to feel so free. Stop where and when we want. We plan to camp, explore, eat, relax, and enjoy some scenery from a little lower perspective. 

Get ready, PJ2! You get to see some mountains!

So, hey! I’m going on a backpacking trip! I’m trying to be all giddy and super excited, but it’s a little dampened by the fact that it’s not set in stone because I don’t yet have a permit, and because I’m going solo, so I don’t have a fellow backpacking buddy to bounce the giddiness back and forth with. That’s one of the downfalls of a solo trip, but I’m pretty determined to try this out. Yeah, it’s definitely still really exciting, but just a little more mellow of an excitement. And… *sigh*… It’s not like a 2,000-mile-plus trail or anything. My favorite, of course. But some day. Some day again, I will hike a really long trail. Or several, hopefully. But for now, I’m going to be happy with what I can do with my current circumstances. And hey. This ain’t half bad, ya know!? 

As for this here bloggity-blog, I plan to write each day like I have on previous long hikes I’ve done (American Discovery Trail 2006Tahoe Rim Trail 2009Pacific Crest Trail 2013Knobstone Trail 2015), but I probably won’t be posting them until I’m done with the trip. Unless I miraculously have some internet coverage out there (which I doubt I will, and honestly might not care to check). I also just bought an almost 1-pound battery charger for my phone since I use it for journaling/writing and as a camera, so hopefully I at least have enough battery juice to get me through the nine days without needing an outlet. 

Hopefully I’ll be able to post my gear list and food choices for the trip before I head out, but I can’t make any promises, as I’ve found out how much less time I have lately as a trucker to blog. I knew I’d have limited time with this line of work, but it’s even less than I’d imagined, so it can be really tough to keep this baby updated. I have so much I’d like to write, it’s just really hard to find the time (every single time I post a blog, I guarantee you it’s cutting into my sleeping hours.) So I’ll try. I really, really want to. I want to share those things! Whether it’s to help you folks that read this stuff and want to go on a similar adventure, hopefully learn a couple of things (maybe I’ll talk more about peeing standing up! I can do it now!), or maybe you’d like to try keto backpacking, or see if I totally bonk from it – or if it’s just for me simply to organize and basically make another checklist of things I don’t want to forget! Haha! 

So, keep an eye out for future posts. I plan to post lots of photos with my blog entries of the hike, as I usually do, and WordPress doesn’t seem to make that super easy, so that’ll take some time. But that record of my trip is not something I’m willing to let go of. As I’ve mentioned in the past, a lot of the reason I write this blog is for my own memory bank, because my physical brain memory bank is not so good. So these blog entries can bring me back and help me remember. So you can count on those! 

In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for me that I can get a decent walk-up permit/itinerary! And maybe that I can still climb and hike in elevation and not die. It’s been a while! 

And a new, funky pair of sunglasses passed gear testing during a training hike. :)


Tonight I love my July birthday. I’ve always loved that it’s right in the middle of summer when it’s hot, sunny and well, summery. It makes me happy. :) 

I plan to hike some of the trail in these bad boys, as well as use them for camp shoes.

My other hiking shoe get-up.

Map of the Wonderland Trail.