You meet some very interesting people when backpacking on the Wonderland Trail (WT). Not a lot of people, as you would encounter on a day hike in a popular area of Mt. Rainier on a warm summer day. But some people, who are sharing a similar experience as yourself.
When you cross paths with a fellow WT hiker, you usually stop and chat for a few moments and compare notes. What campground did you just come from? Where to next? How many days are you taking to complete the trail? Seen any bears?
Most people take 8 to 14 days to circumnavigate Mt. Rainier. But then you run into those hearty-folk who take only 3 or 4 days. The 3-dayers were trail runners. Truly admirable. Fully supported, so they don’t have to carry heavy packs, and in their running shoes rather than hiking boots, they travel 30 to 33 miles a day. Wow!
The 4-dayer was still carrying a pack, but quite a light one, and had a few re-supply days. But still, an impressive 20 to 25 miles per day!!
St. Andrews Lake
Many couples share the WT experience together. And solo travelers, even solo women, camp and hike on their own! And families, such as the two mothers with their three teenage sons, who were taking three years, doing one-third of the WT at a time.
You also run into “old friends” on the trail. Now how ironic is that! (Not sure how often you run into the same person two years in a row on the WT.) Last year a group of us congregated at the Indian Bar shelter for a night, talking, laughing and staying dry. And lo and behold, this year we ran into one of them this year. Nice to see an old friend, compare WT stories, and catch up on life.
Aurora Lake in the morning, during the day, and in the evening
But there was one particular group of very interesting people that truly amazed me. A dad, a mom, an uncle, a grandfather. And four children. Not teenage children. But young kids, aged 3, 5, 7 and 9. Yes, 3, 5, 7 and 9!! Doing the entire 93-mile WT together!
For the most part, the kids seemed to be enjoying themselves. Well, the three year old was crying a bit at one point while walking, but perked up again once she got to ride on her daddy’s shoulders.
I was lucky enough to witness all the kids in this family having kid-type fun several times. Playing in the streams and rivers, and swimming in a lake. I even found out that for the three oldest children, this was their second year hiking the WT.
one of the Golden Lakes
Of course the adults carried most of the weight and supplies, and the family was taking 14 days to complete the hike, but the older kids did their share, too. One of them had the responsibility of carrying all the toilet paper!!
What an awesome, remarkable family. I believe that a family that hikes together stays together!