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.
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.
Part 2: Walking in Wonderland