W is for Wonderland Trail in Washington

W day is here! I’ve never been more excited!! (Okay, that’s definitely not true.) Anyway, I wrote a story called Walking in Wonderland that I would love to share. I am going to break it into pieces like the Oregon story because it’s a bit long BUT I wrote it soon after hiking so the memories were very fresh and I actually had time to go over the story and make it “good” instead of just typing it up on the spot. I also have a ton of pictures that I’d like to share along the way. I won’t lie, I’m very proud of this story and accomplishment of hiking the Wonderland Trail so I really hope you enjoy it too! 🙂 Now without further delay:

Walking in Wonderland

Razor-like wind ripped its way through my skin, promising my body the absence of warmth. Frost fingers prodded my flesh, pricking my face in malicious joy. I was numb, but I could still feel. Feel the pain of losing control, feel the searing heat from a body working overtime to compete with my dropping temperature. My brain went blank. I thought dark, cold, sit, cold, no more, cold, Mom? And she was right there beside me, telling me to get up and keep walking.

“It’s okay, we’re almost there. Camp is like two feet away! Get up Serena, get up.”

And I wanted to, I really did. I wanted to feel my muscles work themselves flawlessly like machinery, but I was stuck somewhere far away.

“M-mom, I’m s-so c-cold.” And I shut down.

I found myself shoved into my sleeping bag, shaking uncontrollably. It was worse than any teeth chattering I had ever experienced. It was as if a jackhammer was positioned directly over my chest. I thought seizure, epilepsy, convulsions, death? No, I had hypothermia. A moan escaped my now purple lips. I never wanted to come on this trip, I never wanted to go backpacking, and I never showed enthusiasm about hiking, ever. Yet here I was, bundled in shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, and a sleeping bag, shaking like the tail of a rattlesnake.

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It all started with my parents. They are both long distance backpackers, and neither one an amateur. My dad received the Triple Crown, which means he’s hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide, and the Pacific Crest Trail. My mom was the  first woman to hike the Continental Divide. That hike took about seven months to complete, not a small feat. Obviously, they wanted their children to carry this enthusiasm, but I never could get into it as much as they did.

It wasn’t all bad of course. My dad used to come into my elementary school and make my class “Hiker’s Mac & Cheese” (A box of Kraft with gravy, tuna, and Mrs. Dash added), and who doesn’t like to eat during school? However, when it came to the actual “Let’s hike a trail!” I tended to shy away from the activity. Eventually, I got old enough to start appreciating nature and little day hikes, but my first mistake was mentioning this out loud. From then on it was doomed upon us kids to endeavor our first family backpacking expedition.

The location they selected was Mt. Rainier. We would hike the Wonderland Trail in nine days. It was meant to be hiked in between ten and fourteen days, but since my family is extra ambitious, or at least my dad is, we compromised some mileage and shortened the trip. It made sense; Mt. Rainier is in Washington and my Uncle Pete lives there, whom we never get to see. He has Alzheimer’s like most of my family, and you can never visit an Alzheimer’s patient too soon.

Unfortunately, the location was just far away enough so that you would never want to drive that distance, but it was still connected by land so plane wasn’t the only option. We drove, because that’s what my family does. We drove thirty-three straight hours on our longest stretch, and then we just kept driving all the way to Washington from Connecticut. To give a general idea of how far that is, it’s about three thousand miles…three THOUSAND miles we drove in a minivan to Washington State. A packed minivan at that, inside sat both of my parents, my brother, my sister, and myself. We’re not one of those Brady Bunch families either, so the ride was habitually interrupted with disagreements, and the overall comfort level was definitely lacking.

When we got to the Mt. Rainier State Park, where the trail is, it was raining. Not a great way to put someone in a positive mood as they are about to hike 92.2 miles (126.2 flat miles). We were in a nearby store to pick up last minute things we would need for our adventure when a man dripping with knowledge approached us.

“You folks looking to get out of the rain? You know it’s dry on the other side of the mountain. Why don’t you just head over to Box Canyon? It’s not raining there…”

I’m sure he would have continued if it had not been for my dad’s interruption of, “Actually, we’re looking to get into the rain.”

He wasn’t sure how to respond, but I guess he figured the best thing to do in this situation was shuffle away like a scolded dog because that’s exactly what he did. Then my family did just what my dad said we would, and started on the Wonderland Trail, rain now gently trickling from the clouds.

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Of course my dad had a huge grin on his face as he led us on the trail, the rain only creating the appearance of him crying tears of joy. My brother followed close behind, this being his third adventure into the wilderness he had already begun to mentally prepare himself for what was to come. A little hesitantly my sister entered the woods with my mom trailing behind. I entered last, head amuck from dizzying thoughts.
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Part 2: Walking in Wonderland

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32 thoughts on “W is for Wonderland Trail in Washington

    • Thank you! It’s such a beautiful trail I hope you get to hike it and take your time with it. The Appalachian Trail has some of the hardest sections of trail in terms of elevation changes, but you just can’t beat that sense of accomplishment when you complete a trail!

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      • We live within a few hours of the Wonderland Trail, and used to live within easy driving distance of the Appalachian Trail…just taking the time to do the work 😉 Thanks for the tips and looking forward to your Part 2! BTW: Imagery is beautiful — we love living in the Pacific NW!

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  2. This is a great start – I am looking forward to the rest!

    Also? I’ve totally been that person who wrote “Will it ever stop raining?” I mean, I haven’t actually vandalized anything with that saying, but I have been that person camping who has that thought. It’s usually followed by, “Why didn’t we just stay in a hotel?”

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  3. Very well written, I’m ready for more! Since I live in WA I can definitely relate to the rainy hike…lol. You kind of get used to it, but a day hike is my max. Also, you and I have in common the riding across the US by car with the family. When I was twelve my family went from Florida, where we lived, to British Columbia (opposite corner) and then back again a different way. We were in a 1971 Chrysler with no air conditioning in August. I was literally traumatized by the heat of the desert in Utah and Nevada, but other than that I garnered some awesome memories along the way…at least looking back from now it was pretty cool. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!

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    • Wow that sounds miserable. It does make for good stories though! My worst memory of driving is when I got stuck in the front between my parents (that awkward middle seat that shouldn’t exist) because my brother and sister wouldn’t let me sit in the back so they’d have room for their stuff. And it was a standard so I had to keep moving out of the way when my dad needed to shift. But even so, no AC in Nevada and Utah sounds worse.

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      • Yeah, it’s amazing all the crazy little things you go through when crammed into a car for that long. I take after my dad with enthusiasm for all the stops along the way, so that made it fun for me…and we didn’t do the 33 hour straight thing. That sounds as bad as no AC – well maybe. Our car trip WAS the journey we were seeking not the way to get to the beginning of it. So we saw lots of cool things…and way too much corn, wheat and nothingness. 🙂

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  4. Pingback: Walking in Wonderland | serenasinclair

    • Lol! Actually I’ve been having a pretty rough time dealing with my mom’s Alzheimer’s so it’s nice to be reminded to put things in perspective and realize just how lucky and blessed I am to have my family.

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  5. Pingback: Y is for Yellowstone National Park | serenasinclair

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