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Planning trip: Wonderland Trail + Northern Loop?
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David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Planning trip: Wonderland Trail + Northern Loop? on 03/30/2011 11:09:25 MDT Print View

I'm faxing a reservation request this Friday for a section of the Wonderland Trail + Northern Loop, and would welcome any input on my planned itinerary.

Six years ago, I did the WT with about 16-17# base, and have hiked the Northern Loop several times, getting lighter each time. This summer (early August), I'd like to combine my favorite parts of both, and do some cross-country heading out from Windy Gap into Elysian Fields and Vernal Park (the cross-country will be new for me, but that area is my favorite in Mt Rainier NP). I assume CC will be allowed, once I'm off the WT.

I'm planning a couple more miles per day than I've done in the past (prior max. was 14.4 mi, Dick Creek to Sunrise), but should have sub 10# base, trail runners, and will cache food at Longmire and Mowich.

Here's my planned itinerary--I've picked some sites because I like them (eg, Golden Lakes) and tried to avoid others (eg, Devil's Dream). I'm driving over from eastern Washington, so will enter/exit near Sunrise.

Start at Fryingpan TH.
First Night: 8.7 mi to Indian Bar
Second Night: 15.6 to Paradise River
Third Night: 14.6 to S. Puyallup River
Fourth Night: 11.5 to Golden Lakes
Fifth Night: 16.7 to Cataract Valley (via Spray Park)
Sixth Night: Northern Loop to Windy Gap, then CC and camp somewhere around Crescent Mt/Elysian Fields/Windy Gap ~9-10 mi?
Seventh Night: ~14 mi. Return to WT near Mystic Pass via Old Desolate. Burger and beer at Sunrise and sleep at Sunrise camp before driving back next a.m.

Thanks in advance.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
Looks great! on 03/30/2011 13:01:41 MDT Print View

when are you going? We did the WT last year, going to do a trip on the Northern Loop + Spray Park in late August. Moving slower and carrying more than you, although we enjoyed our trip last year, we felt like we had to constantly keep moving and get up at the crack of dawn, so we're taking it slow this year so we have more time to enjoy along the way.

you didn't mention stove or cooking, but just keep in mind that Longmire will be the only place you can cache fuel, going in that direction.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Planning trip: Wonderland Trail + Northern Loop? on 03/30/2011 13:04:35 MDT Print View

You may have to ask firmly a couple times but hopefully you can get the XC sites. It is tricky when adding in them to a WT permit. Have you looked over the XC zone map on Rainer's website? And...gently drop in that you hiked NL a couple times and would love the chance to XC - that may help your chances :-)

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Planning trip: Wonderland Trail + Northern Loop? on 03/30/2011 13:06:18 MDT Print View

On fuel - unless they have changed the rules recently you send in alcohol with your caches where you cannot with canisters. So do check that out.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Thanks (and another question)! on 03/30/2011 14:35:16 MDT Print View

Thanks for the info, esp. the suggestion about the zone map (took some looking to find). I hadn't realized XC zones had party number limits, which makes sense.

Re: weight + speed. I'm putting in for a permit for two, but will likely wind up solo. On my own, I'd rather just walk all day, and then go to sleep. The base weight is a goal at this point--I need to replace my shelter to get there. I'm thinking a MYOG shaped tarp, sort of like SMD Wild Oasis. I've always used tents before, so this will be a first. With down bag and no bivy, will this be okay for Rainier area?

I think I'll attach a note with the fax, explaining that I'm not doing the complete WT. Website makes it seem like it's okay to XC if that's the case. I guess I could backtrack to Windy Gap again and finish via the Northern Loop if I have to, but I really like the finish dropping in to Sunrise, rather than coming up past Berkeley Park.

Fuel shouldn't be a problem--I'm going to try to stick to boiling ~ 2 pints a day, so I think I can squeak by with one 4 oz canister for my gigapower.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Thanks (and another question)! on 03/30/2011 15:09:48 MDT Print View

I'd be wary of dew if at all in a bowl around Rainier - and if it rains. As long as that is covered go for it! :-)

Mina Loomis
(elmvine) - MLife

Locale: Central Texas
tarp for Wonderland on 04/02/2011 09:19:54 MDT Print View

We hiked WL in August 2009 with an ID 8 x 10 flat tarp (15 oz with stakes & lines) for the two of us, with down bags. 10 days, the latter 6 of them wet. No bivies. Tarp worked just fine.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
Re: tarp for Wonderland on 04/02/2011 12:24:39 MDT Print View

Hi Mina,
Thanks for tarp info, esp. that you had no problems with rain and a simple flat tarp.

Faxed my reservation request yesterday, asking for XC in Vernal Park on the last day and a note explaining I wasn't doing the complete WT. Hope it works.

I think I'll go MYOG for shelter, but just noticed SMD has the Vamp (minus mesh inner) on half-price closeout for $90. I started another thread asking about this but no response yet.

Anyone have experience with Vamp? I've searched old forums and there's not much. Maybe not a very popular shelter?

John West
(skyzo) - M

Locale: Borah Gear
Vamp on 04/03/2011 10:43:04 MDT Print View

$90 for that Vamp is pretty hard to pass up. Although I recently made my own tarp, and it cost about $20 total, with 3 yards of silnylon to make a 9X5 tarp. I use this paired with a bivy, and so far on my tests with it, I have stayed dry. My tarp/guylines/bivy weighs 14oz total. Add another 2oz for stakes and I have a shelter than can fend off most of anything for a pound.

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F

Locale: North Idaho
No go on permit reservation--Alternatives? on 05/10/2011 14:22:44 MDT Print View

So, a week or two ago I got a letter denying my reservation--first three campsites were full. No mention of whether XC was okay or not. My dates for the trip are firm--I'm being dropped off and picked up by my family, who will spend that week in Seattle (we are arriving from Idaho via Chinook Pass). Can be at park Monday 1 August to try and get walk-in spots. Will start hiking Tuesday morning 2 August and finish Monday 8 August.

Hiking the Northern Loop, I've never made a reservation and had no problem getting walk-in sites. As I said above, XC thru Elysian Fields/ Old Desolate is kind of the goal of the trip. I'd like to hike through Spray Park again, but other than that could miss most of the WT if I have to.

Any experience out there with just showing up (solo) and getting permits for the hike outlined in my OP above (WT section + NL)? As of now, that's still my first choice, if reasonable.

Any suggestions for an alternate 90-100 mile hike, starting Sunrise area, incorporating Elysian/Old Desolate/Windy Gap then heading away from park (maybe looping back)?

Looking for something with stretches above treeline, 12-16+ miles per day. WT-style elevation changes no problem. Loop is nice, but as long as my wife can find the exit trailhead, one-way is fine.