|Our bear #4.|
|There is a bear-ass picking through, but I walked backwards too fast to get a good shot.|
|Cold air coming off glacier felt like AC from time to time.|
|Getting water - yoga skills sometimes required.|
|The Russian mushroom hunter in me cried passing by these treasures!|
|Highest point on Wonderland.|
|They look benign because I can't get an angle right. Trust me, it's steep.|
|Crazy canyon crossing, where I believe one of the hikers was swept recently.|
Eventually, we touched the river, crossed a small bridge, and set our funnies, exhausted, above Indian Cabin...and there were a few scary moments, here and in the next mile, when we didn't trust ourselves, our strength, our emotions...but we kept on going anyway. We ran into a solo guy Scott we saw on day one, and that lifted our spirits for a bit, until a minute later Larry got stung by a bee on the top of his ankle (which hurt and swelled up)...
|More steep water-bar-steps climbing.|
There were more unexpected climbs, more explicit words about suck-y topo-map we had, fewer calories than needed...and when that long, hoped for downhill came, neither one of us could do well on it.
|My poles were my most prized possession. I basically hopped over on one leg.|
We managed to get lost on a road-crossing section near Box Canyon - we both agreed that for some odd reason the Wonderland Trail had the worst signage around populated areas, like campgrounds and roads. All the trail intersections with other trails were marked just fine.
But we made it, those last 2.2 miles, and we made it exactly in time to beat 12 hrs by a hair to Maple Creek, our last camping site...another day that put us on our backs, mostly emotionally and with paining injuries.
Because we caught an hour of daylight, we considered our arrival a full success though, soaked our feet in a creek, cooked the usual dinner (Ramen noodles and some pepperoni), and retired in our tent.
The last day should be a piece of cake for sure! With all that math, we ONLY have 10 miles left! This is when long previous days came in handy. Worst comes to worst - 5 hrs, baby, and those are definitely easy, I promise! One hop over, and downhill home stretch!
We woke up and caught the last of the dry weather to make breakfast and pack out. As soon as we moved onto the trail, the fog dropped low, turned to mist, drizzle, rain, mist...and it alternated on and off, enough water to warrant a backpack cover, but not enough to make us cold or want a rain jacket.
And it was beautiful in its own way, and we didn't mind one bit. We were so lucky to have a full 3 days of paradise, God-blessed nice sunny weather, in PNW, last week of Indian summer, that now, we cherished this so Oregon/Washington typical nature in its best, the "why it is so green around here", and I almost cried about it too (thinking of the years I lived in the area). We walked, and it seemed we didn't push, but maybe we did just a little. It was, as usual in those adventures, a mixed feeling: you want it to be over with, the pain, the cutting-in-your-shoulders pack straps, the screwed up feet, the hungry stomach, the elbows that hurt because you push on poles so much - yet you don't want it to be over at all and dread being back in society. It was actually great that no views could be seen - it allowed us to contemplate and be inward, just what we both needed. Sometime, I would break and launch into a long monologue about my state of fitness, my foot, my desire to do well, but also, my thriving to do things that are meaningful for my life, not just running "around in a circle". Most of the time, we were just silent, each lost in our own thoughts...
|Dinner, anyone? These fazan birds were basically like pets, running ahead of us for a quarter mile.|
And we were out. No celebration of any kinds, only folks milling around the parking area not knowing we just completed the Wonderland Trail - in 3 days and a morning of 4 hrs only! - nobody to share with. It was just like that, and the aches drifted away, like nothing happened, as we changed into something acceptable for a coffee shop, and the tiredness - non-existent, and we couldn't believe ourselves we just lived through this 93 (or was it 96?) miles of some serious trail. Wonderland. A fixture to make dreams happen...
We stopped briefly at Whittaker's to log into our tablet and let those who cared know we made it safely. As we drove away from Mount Rainier National Park, the sun cleared up, and the sun was shining brightly. And as the last drops of rain dried, our souls kept wondering, left behind...
We spent an evening at my good friend Monika's house, cleaning up, eating real food, checking into a real world, but it seemed unreal to be there - real world was left behind. The next day was rather crazy, in an attempt to see all whom I love and don't get to see often, my kids, my friends, and spend some quality time together too - after all, that was our 5th wedding anniversary. We survived. We made the cut. We grew stronger. We have a lot of plans ahead...
There is so much more to say, but I don't think I can express it all in a post about a backpacking adventure. I don't want to clutter this with personal revelations. I simply don't know where my blog stands, nor do I have time, but mostly - who am I sharing things with? But the trip itself brought so much to light, it was absolutely amazing in many more ways than even we anticipated and hoped for.
On a more down-to-Earth note, our aches were gone quickly, but we feel drained of energy. The aftermath does feel as if we raced a 100 miler. Larry's blisters are healing, my foot got an MRI and an offer for a boot - which I refused (I can't function at the pace of my life in a boot, but I am wearing the firmest shoe I have in my arsenal). I withdrew from Grindstone 100 and Javelina 100, and my Fall season stopped before even getting started. And, I am strangely OK with that. I wasn't looking for this kind of decision, but it is a relief a decision was made for me - unlike last Fall, when it, too, was delivered to me by some twist of fate, this time it feels different. Because of what I had gone through in the past year, I am different.
It's time to begin thinking about our next backpacking adventure...