Hiking the Wonderland Trail Solo: A Wonderland Trail Blog

A photo of Mt. Rainier from my Wonderland Trail Blog
Mt. Rainier as viewed from the Wonderland Trail

Welcome to my Wonderland Trail Blog! In 2016 I solo hiked around Mt. Rainier and kept a daily blog about my experiences. Backpacking the entire trail in single thru-hike had long been a dream of mine. I wasn’t in a particular hurry and as I was recently recovering from an injury, I took the maximum time allowed by the National Park Service (14 days) to complete the trail. It was absolute bliss.

The Wonderland Trail is approximately 95 miles long and encircles Mt. Rainier, showcasing stunning views of the mountain from every possible angle. It is a moderately difficult hike that travels up and over many ridges, with a cumulative elevation gain of 22,000 feet (6,700 m). But since I took 14 days to complete the trail, I was only hiking 6-10 miles a day with plenty of time at the end of each day to reflect and relax. I also used that time to write a daily Wonderland Trail blog.

To learn more about how I prepared for my Wonderland Trail hike and to read my journal of each day on the trail, read on…

The Wonderland Trail Blog

Wonderland Trail – Pre-Trip Shenanigans
Tomorrow is the big day!  Tomorrow I will start my solo adventure backpacking around the Wonderland Trail. This morning I am relaxing in my hotel room at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. After I check out of the hotel here, I will spend the afternoon caching my food at various locations around the trail so I don’t have to carry all of my food with me…

Wonderland Trail – Day 0
Today I spent the day driving around Mt Rainier to place my food caches. It took me a full 7 hours to drive around the entire park, including a little time to sightsee at Longmire and to run some errands in Enumclaw. My food is cached in 5 gallon buckets, as Mt. Rainier requires food to be stored in plastic animal-proof containers…

Wonderland Trail Day 1 – White River Campground to Sunrise Campground
Wow.  I couldn’t have asked for better weather on my first day.  It was 65 degrees and sunny with gorgeous views of Mt Rainier today.  But it didn’t start out that way.  It got down to 40 degrees last night and I was flipping cold…

Wonderland Trail Day 2 – Sunrise Camp to Mystic Camp
What a beautiful day. I woke to a lovely sunrise over Shadow Lake, and was on the trail by 8:30 am. Ten minutes later I came across another hiker who was intensely watching a small patch of snow a little ways off. I looked a little closer and realized there were two goats on the snow! It looked like a mama goat and her baby…

Wonderland Trail Day 3 – Mystic Campground to Cataract Valley Campground
I slept poorly last night and woke up a little cranky this morning.  It was gusty and chilly and I was sore and couldn’t get comfortable.  I packed up camp and ate breakfast by Mystic Lake, which improved my mood somewhat.  It’s hard to be cranky when you’re eating breakfast by a gorgeous lake…

Wonderland Trail Day 4 – Cataract Valley Camp to Eagles Roost
What an amazing crazy beautiful day.  I had a close encounter with a bear, I ate lunch at the top of Spray Park which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I spent the the afternoon sunning myself on a rock next to spectacular Spray Falls. The morning started with rustling and chewing sounds outside of my tent…

Wonderland Trail Day 5 – Eagles Roost to S. Mowich River Camp
I’ve been practicing breaking camp as quickly as possible in anticipation for when I’m hiking longer days.  I’m going faster now, but it seems that I can’t break camp in less than hour.  I suppose one way to speed things up would be to skip breakfast and eat a power bar or something but that would just make me sad. I like to eat a big pile of oatmeal every morning…

Wonderland Trail Day 6 – S. Mowich River to Golden Lakes
This morning I bid good bye to my new hiker friends Dave and Jason, and hit the trail by 8:30 a.m. South Mowich River Campground is positioned between the S. Mowich and N. Mowich Rivers in a valley and is one of the lowest points on the Wonderland Trail, at 2600 Feet. The trail meandered through a rain forest hanging with moss and greenery. Very lovely.

Wonderland Trail Day 7 – Golden Lakes to Klapatche Park
Apparently, learning about a bear in our camp just before bed doesn’t make for a restful evening. I woke up several times during the night, absolutely convinced that a bear was outside pawing at my cookware. Let’s just say I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep (although, in the light of morning, I decided those noises must have been the wind)…

Wonderland Trail Day 8 – Klapatche Park to S. Puyallup River
I was in no hurry to break camp this morning as I only had just under 5 miles to hike today.  So, I took my time enjoying the lovely views up at Klapatche. The first couple of miles of my hike traversed the alpine meadows up in St. Andrews Park…

Wonderland Trail Day 9 – S. Puyallup River to The Longmire Inn
Well it did rain last night, and hard. I stayed dry and toasty in my tent, but everything was a muddy soggy mess this morning when I packed out. I had pitched my tent on a hill and dug a trench around it the night before, but I don’t think that I would have stayed dry much longer. My tent was splattered with mud and soaked through…

Wonderland Trail Day 10 – Longmire Inn to Paradise River Camp
When I woke up this morning, my tent and all my clothes strung up over the bathtub were dry. I had cranked up the heat and left the windows open last night to promote maximum tent drying air circulation. It had rained all night but stopped by mid-morning. The sun came out and I could even see Mt. Rainier from the front porch of the Longmire Inn…

Wonderland Trail Day 11 – Paradise River to Nickel Creek Camp
Today was another damp day on Mt. Rainier. It rained overnight and puddles soaked through the floor of my tent but I was cozy and dry inside my sleeping bag. I was in high spirits despite the rain, and packed up camp while it drizzled. I threw my sodden tent in a trash compactor bag and hit the trail around 8:45 am…

Wonderland Trail Day 12 – Nickel Creek to Indian Bar
No rain fell overnight, which was a nice change. My tent was still wet from the day before but at least it hadn’t gotten any wetter. I was pleased to leave my umbrella behind when I went in search of the facilities this morning. There’s nothing like pooping in the rain to give you a new appreciation for dry weather…

Wonderland Trail Day 13 – Indian Bar to Summerland
This morning I was awakened to the sounds of elk bugling. Frost crunched beneath my feet and my breath hovered in the air in front of me. My thermometer read 35 degrees. Sunrise over the Cascade mountains to the east shone strands of warmth as early as 7:00 am. Now that I’m on the east side of the mountain again, the sunrises are once more a spectacular event…

Wonderland Trail Day 14 – Summerland to White River Camp Trailhead
The ground crunched beneath my feet this morning as I walked to retrieve my bear bag. White frost covered the grass and alpine shrubs, and lacy tendrils of ice formed intricate patterns on the trail. Today there is not a cloud in the sky. It’s just me and Mt. Rainier, enjoying the day together…

A panorama photo from my Wonderland Trail Blog
A panorama photo from the Wonderland Trail

More Information and Resources

For more information on planning your hike, I recommend the following resources:

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In 2016, Unicorn solo hiked the 93-mile Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier. Learn how she prepared for the hike and follow along by reading her daily blog from the Wonderland Trail.

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