Wonderland Trail Part 3: Family for Life

The morning of day seven arrived with a few clouds, the first sign of any weather since we had started. We packed up our gear and headed toward Indian Henry’s hunting grounds. We trekked up the switchbacks and made our way through Devils Dream. We passed through the stunning valleys. Passed by Squaw Lake.

We rounded one last bend. Mount Rainier towered in the background awash in a haze. The patrol cabin sat nestled in a bright green field dotted with wildflowers.

We sat up our makeshift kitchen and prepared a delightful brunch on the porch. Bacon, hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, and coffee filled our bellies. Both Damon and Bobby had coffee flavoring, which I happily added to my cup of joe. The morning was fantastically perfect. We headed back onto the trail. The sparse clouds barely put a dent in the heat. Heading down to Tahoma Creek went quickly. Crossing the Tahoma suspension bridge views of the massive glacially carved valley could be witnessed. We made our way back up more switchbacks before crawling along Emerald Ridge. My stomach began to gurgle and churn. An emergency run off the trail was quickly made. The awe-inspiring cliffs against the stature of Mount Rainier helped occupy my mind.

tahoma suspension bridge

I finally caught up with the boys and enjoyed a snack. A panorama of the giant mountain standing proud. Tahoma glacier flowing down into the Puyallup River. A striking plethora of colors lit up the afternoon.

We headed onwards. My stomach churned and gurgled again. I felt sick. My paced dragged. Stops along the way to photograph the impressive scenery slowed us down further.

We took another short break in the shade, offered by the sparse trees, once at the top of the relentless switchbacks. We arrived at St. Andrews lake.

We had learned from another group of hikers that Klapatche was dry. This would be our last water source. We took the chance to eat and enjoy more coffee. While resting, I took a gander at the ingredients list of the coffee flavorings. Both of them contained an ingredient I am allergic to. The mystery of my stomach troubles had been solved. Washed up, water containers refilled, stomachs happy, we continued to Klapatche Park, home for the night. Another night of dinner and conversation led us into sleep.

Day eight was another stunningly beautiful day.

The trail led us through a tunnel of gorgeous trees. Sparse views could be seen. Finally, the landscape opened up into a forest of silver snags.

The trail led through a marshy field. Abundant blueberries lined the path. We finally arrived at Golden Lakes.

We chose our campsite of the night and went for a swim. The small pond behind the patrol cabin was a comfortable tepid temperature.

Back at camp, gear was set up. I took a break and roamed the hills before attempting to take a nap. The scorching heat didn’t allow much of a break. I went roaming again.

As the sun began its decent. Sunset views from our campsite were stunning! Bobby and I made our way to a small peak I had found earlier in the day. The views of the sun setting on Mount Rainier were phenomenal.

mt rainier sunset

Our last night on the trail had come to an end. Friday, July 10th, we awoke. We took our time getting ready. A good morning was had.

Fog had rolled in, the only day we didn’t have endless views. A quiet walk led us back to Mowich.

We said our goodbyes. My new brother Bobby rode home with his fantastic mother and her friend. Damon and I spent the drive back to his home chatting incessantly about our awesome trek. After a hot shower, and some delicious grub, I headed back home. Another wonderful journey complete.

Raise a toast to the great outdoors, and I will see you on the trail!