Sarah: Wow, I didn't realize you live so close to that area! I may want to get in touch about that shuttle idea, and it would be fun to meet up with you anyway. My older son's girlfriend's family (who are not at all outdoorsy) live in Kelso and, supposedly, have a lot of spare cars, so he says we can plan on using a couple of those cars for the plan as outlined above. But I am worried about getting the whole crew plus packs into car #2 for the drive around to Mowich.
My ulterior motive for choosing Frying Pan instead of White River is to keep those kids on the trail with us for as long as possible and still get them out on their schedule. But if Frying Pan is parked up, White River should do. In either case we figure on having a resupply cache in car #1, that we can pick up when we send the kids off.
All: I have the Filley book, and also the Falcon Hiking Mt Rainier book; maps so far are Trails Illustrated and also the Earthwalk Press from the bookstore link the park web site. I haven't run across Greentrails--will do a search.
We are definitely (at least, my husband and I--can't influence grown kids much) working on fitness, for the ups and downs. No stairmaster at our house but we are taking stairs at home and at work two at a time. We also bike and walk a lot, and I am taking pilates lessons/practice everyday, and am learning jogging and light weights.
The snow has been a big concern for me. Older son asked if we could push it to start hiking July 12. I have already told him that will be a bad idea, and might very well lead to an aborted trip. Hard to push it much later than July 19, because he and his girlfriend need to be out of their apartment at the end of July and get themselves moved across the country to NYC and ensconced in as-yet-unidentified living quarters there in time for graduate school to begin three weeks later. Modern world constraints vs. natural world constraints--makes it hard for us to get out on the trail as much as we'd like! We are working hard to make this one go.
I am glad to hear that a 10-day plan should be feasible. I find when I call national parks and ask rangers about hiking plans, they always take the most conservative tack, and tell me that pretty much everything I propose to do is strenuous to the point of impossible for ordinary humans.
We would arrive at the Panhandle Gap area after the kids leave, so we should have some flexibility. If we camp at Summerland, though, we'd need to take the morning off to get to Panhandle in the afternoon. That might mean Indian Bar instead of Nickel Creek that night, which might change the rest of the itinerary. I'll give some thought to that. Thanks for the tip!