Crossing my fingers for the Wonderland Trail…

original_328353_2K_fN2okoybt82jlvhsF4eyGPThe Wonderland Trail is one trail that has been on my to-do list for quite a while. I actually wanted to hike it in 2012, but, everyday life just didn’t allow it. However, late last year I was talking with Jake (from Barefoot Jake) and we decided to try to go for it in 2013. So, after talking with a few other people, we decided on an itinerary, then on the 15th of this month, I faxed the required permit application in! Now we can only wait and cross our fingers that we actually get the itinerary which was requested, or at the very least, an itinerary!

The Wonderland Trail will be my first hike out west, so this in itself has got me pretty excited about this hike. Of course too, after reading other people’s comments, scrolling through other’s photo’s and watching other’s video’s on the Wonderland Trail has also stoked the fire within me a bit too! Of course though, the trail is also notorious for being slightly challenging, however, I am looking forward to the challenge, as well as the scenery…

Here is a very brief summary of the Wonderland Trail from the National Park Service:

The Wonderland Trail (WT) is 93 miles (150kms) long and encircles Mount Rainier. It is a strenuous hike with lots of elevation gain and loss, through lowland forests and valleys and into high alpine and sub-alpine areas.

So, as I said, now I am just waiting to see what kind of itinerary we can get, and then will take it from there. In the meantime though, I am of course working on reading up as much as I can on the trail and the conditions, as well as studying maps and preparing for the hike as much as I can at this point. Saying this, there have been a few really great Wonderland Trail resources that I have been able to get my hands on that has been very helpful to begin preparing for the trail.

The first resource is the book that I posted about in late 2010, “Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail: Encircling Mount Rainier by Bette Filley. This is a great book that describes the area itself and what one can expect to see and find there, as well as a quite detailed hiking log which includes mileage, elevation changes, information on campsites, water sources and lots of other useful information.

As well, Steve (from Willis Wall Multimedia) is a bit of an expert on the trail. He has thru-hiked the Wonderland Trail over 25 times and has a true passion for the trail. And in the process of spending so much of his time on the trail, he has documented (on video) probably every step of the trail! Really, he has… You can head over to his site and pick up his Complete Wonderland Trail Series and watch every inch of the trail. He has videos broken down by camp site to camp site, (as well as video of each individual campsite within each campsite), a video that shows all of the water sources, as well as a video of the entire 93 mile trail (sped up of course)! You can get them all, or just get the ones that you need… And don’t worry, these videos are high quality videos and really does a great job at showing everything. So far, these videos have made planning my trip a good deal easier… heck, I can even figure out which number campsite at each of the campsites I will be at that I would like to get!

Here is an introductory film that goes over some of what you can expect to find in his videos:

(Might I add that this really is a very comprehensive video set, and for those that would like the most info they can get to plan a hike along the Wonderland Trail, this is very likely it. It is nice that it comes on a thumb drive too as this allows you to easily carry it anywhere to access it.)

Another particular resource that I found to be helpful in planning my trip is the site This site also breaks down a lot of information about the trail, but I think my favorite part of the site is the Interactive Trail Planner found on the site. For me, this has allowed me to move my sites around and easily get a (basic) look at the distance and to plan the trip. This was nice as there were certain sites that I wanted to try to get, so it made moving things around fun and helpful.

So, other than this I am also starting a C25K series again, and then working up from there. I will admit, I don’t go to the gym, and with my work and family schedule, it is hard for me to get much exercise done. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it can’t be done, I am just saying that I have been quite lax in making myself do anything after long days at work… However, in order for me to enjoy this hike, I need to be in better shape (after all, there is 22,000+ feet of elevation gain within this short, 93 mile stretch). So, I will be starting with the C25K series and then taking it from there. Of course too, there are a couple more hikes that I have between then and now… One in which we will be hiking 77+ miles in 3 days!

And let’s not forget gear! I do have a gear list that I am working on, however, to be quite honest, it is not complete, and will likely not be complete for a while… who knows what I will have in my closet to choose from by the time that I head out on this hike! Whatever it is though, you can bet it will be at least a “UL” set-up…  🙂

So, for now we wait. Once we get a confirmation on the itinerary, we will begin to start planning all of the logistics involved with getting ready for the hike… So, I am definitely looking forward to this! I am sure that I will do an update to this though before I actually head out on the hike…

Thanks for reading!


Disclaimer: Steve Burgess from Willis Wall Multimedia provided me with the complete set of the Wonderland Trail Series videos in order to help me prepare for my hike. I have no affiliation with Steve and was not required to mention his site, or his items in this, or any other post. However, after watching his videos, it is my personal opinion that this is a very good source of information on the Wonderland Trail, and I personally recommend his site and his videos for others that are looking to do the Wonderland Trail in the future.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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43 Responses to Crossing my fingers for the Wonderland Trail…

  1. Scott Kolbe says:

    I started running in May after hiking for some time. I am running my first 1/2 Marathon in April. I have climbed some 14ers and have climbed on Rainier. Running will make the hike easier.
    Get in shape and you won’t regret it. Hope you get your permits.

    • Stick says:


      That sounds great! I know it will be tough on me at first, but I need it, for more reasons than just hiking, but that is a bonus for sure! 🙂

      And good luck in your 1/2 marathon!


  2. Loneoak says:

    Wow, you have sure kept this under wraps. Sounds like a wonderful hike buddy

    • Stick says:


      I tried to keep quite about it since it is still up in the air, depending on the itineraries. But I am looking forward to it!


    • Loneoak says:

      I would be also. I’m thinking you will shoot video also. Snagged a camera today, hopefully I can learn to do some and make some YouTube stuff or put on my blog soon

    • Stick says:


      Yep, I will be doing video while on the Wonderland Trail with my new camera. However, I gotta admit, I am drastically increasing my camera weight by going with this one… but I think it will be worth it!

      What camera did you get, and do you have your blog live yet?


    • Loneoak says:

      I got the Nikon AW100. Blog is live but the only thing on it is the story you have read from my short trip last year and some links to this yrs thru hikers. Still trying to learn my way around on setting it up

    • Stick says:


      Sweet camera. I have went back and forth on getting the rugged cameras like that but have been happy with the Panasonic Lumix camera’s so I have stuck with them. I am looking forward to hearing how you like the camera. And I got your blog, looks great. Looking forward to seeing more content on it too! 🙂 I am going to add a link to your blog on the side of my page too…

      Have fun!


    • Loneoak says:

      Thanks, hopefully I will get a better understanding of how WordPress works soon. Haven’t messed with much. Pretty sure I can add stuff via phone so I want have wait till I get hpme

    • Stick says:


      You can add stuff via phone on WordPress fairly easy. Just download the WordPress app and it is pretty simple from there… or at least as simple as a phone will let it be. There is no way I could post a full post from my phone, even as “smart” as it is… I just couldn’t do it. I guess if I were just making updates from a long thru hike, it might work but other than that… nope…

      But that gives me an idea… I may just try that when we do the Foothills Trail… just a daily update… Hhmmm…


    • Loneoak says:

      Give it a whirl

    • Stick says:

      Not going to promise anything, but I may try. Honestly, between the battery and the signal, I don’t know how it will work out…

    • Loneoak says:

      Cool. All I have done is send a message to make sure it would work. Mite be able to send video to, not sure

  3. Mike Green says:

    I’ve been wanting to do the Wonderland Trail for awhile now. In fact I purchased the guidebook last year and have read it twice… I hear its one of the most beautiful trails in the world. Good luck bro.

    • Stick says:


      From the videos it does look pretty nice! I can’t wait to see it all in person… 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by,


  4. Allen Bishop says:

    Totally jealous, it is one my bucket list as well, here is to hoping you get the itinerary you want. Looking forward to more details.

  5. Ian says:

    Good luck on your hike Chad. My 12 y/o daughter and I applied for a seven day itinerary in August. Keeping our fingers crossed. We’re going to start hitting the hills this weekend to get ready for this event.

    • Stick says:


      Good luck with getting your itinerary! We applied for September, so hoping we get it! I am hoping that we know something by the end of April… Anyway, good luck with the training, I gotta start doing the same.


  6. Michael says:

    I also put in for a reservation this September. When are y’all planning to go?

  7. Tom says:

    Hey Chad, I hope you get the chance to do the wonderland but if not dont forget the PCT we got some kicken section hikes here! and I’m more than willing to set up shuttles for the Washington/Northern Oregon sections! Good luck Chad!

    • Stick says:


      Thanks for the offer to set up shuttles if we need to do something else, I will keep it in mind. And yes, I am growing more and more interested in the PCT, due to reading books on the trail… I definitely want to see it one day too… or all of it if I get lucky!


  8. Steve says:

    Sounds like a wonderful adventure. I hiked the mountains of Eastern Oregon along the Snake River when I was in my 20’s. After a few days and hiking up a high mountain on a warm day I became weak from the thin air and my knees buckled a couple of times. Being in shape does mean a lot but not living there and not used to such thin air will take a toll on us Easterners. Back then they did not have published medication to help you with the thin air. I am looking forward to your trip report and maybe a video or 2…good luck.

    • Stick says:


      The good thing about the Wonderland Trail is that it never goes more than 7,000 ft (and I don’t think it is quite that high) so I am not concerned with altitude. Although, I guess there could be a chance that the air is just different, so I may add a few pills into my FAK when I go…


  9. Tollermom says:

    Stick…welcome in advance to the West Coast. Hope your permit comes in. I am waiting on my permit to climb the cables on Half Dome in Yosemite this summer. I, too, am working on vertical gains. Have fun.

    • Stick says:

      Thanks Tollermom! I am definitely crossing my fingers for the permits. I would love to get my itinerary, but understand it may be a long shot, so I am just hoping for something close at least! And good luck getting your permits for Half Dome! That is also a place that I would like to see someday with my own 2 eyes!


  10. Martin Rye says:

    It’s got a world class reputation. 22,000ft seems a lot of ascent, but to be honest you can soon get fit to handle that. A simple walk like the West Highland Way in Scotland is 95 miles with 14,500ft of ascent. You don’t even notice it to be honest. I soon got fit at home for my last big Scotland TGOC walk, and 19 mile 7,500ft of ascent days were not that hard in the end. So keep at it and you’ll be fine. I met a backpacker in the USA last year who had done the Wonderland Trail and raved about it. He was also slow, not that fit and made it with no trouble. Look forward to reading more from you about the trip and your kit and planning for it.

    • Stick says:


      I feel like most of it will come down to endurance too, which I feel that I have a lot of. However, in general, I know that being in better shape will also help out, as well is just a better state of being to be in!

      Either way, I am stoked about getting out there to see the trail with my own eyes, I have heard it is a beautiful place. Plus, I am excited about getting to hike out west. So far all of my hiking has been along the east coast… not that that’s a bad thing…


  11. steve says:

    Hi Chad, just a quick point of view. What makes the Wonderland tough is the relentless up and down over relatively short distances compared to, say, the above mentioned Scotland hike. There are very few flat areas for cruising or gentle grades. People lugging over 30 pounds experience a lot of stress on their knees and legs with little chance to rest. To make this hike enjoyable, rather than just endurable, means going fairly light (less than 25 pounds) and training for endurance elevation, which means hills….just doing an inclined treadmill will not work the downhill muscles, and these are critical for this hike. Good luck and looking forward to seeing you in September; don’t forget I plan to join you at least on some of the hike!

    • Stick says:


      That is what I hear about the ups and downs, and I definitely plan to carry a light pack! Thanks for all of your help so far, it has been very helpful and I appreciate it. I also look forward to meeting up with you for some of the hike! I will be sure to let you know what our itinerary is once we have one (hopefully).


  12. Sarah says:

    Good luck on your permit!
    PS: Nope, it’s ugly. You’ll be bored. Nothing to see.😉

  13. Great blog post. Your the master. Fingers still crossed.

  14. We put in for permits for September too. Planning a 10 day itinerary, starting on a Monday with various starting points submitted. Since we live close, we are planning to walk up if we don’t get permits. If you get down to Portland, let me know! I’d love to buy you a cuppa coffee or one of our lovely microbrews and talk shop. Or better yet, take you on a hike in the Gorge or Forest Park.

    • Stick says:

      Renegade Pilgrim,

      I think that we will try the walk-up permits if we don’t get ours, or just go somewhere else, but I am crossing my fingers for the itinerary we submitted, which was only 6 nights. And I would love to visit Portland one day… if I do I will be sure to let you know!

      Good luck on getting your itinerary!


    • Sarah says:

      Honestly, if you don’t get a permit, the PCT is literally just across the highway. It is just as pretty and there loops that use the park as well – that see few hikers. And the PCT runs through NF nearly the whole time in that area. No pre-permits needed if just on the PCT…..

    • Stick says:


      Thanks for the heads up. Luckily, 1 of the others in the group is also from that area and is also aware of some of these other loop hikes, so it is also a back up plan.

      As far as the PCT… I am reading a few books of PCT thru hikes, and waiting on the Tell It On the Mountain video to come in… Let me just say, I am getting super interested in the PCT… 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!


  15. Mark T says:

    Hey Chad,

    Hope your permit works out. I am making a bid for a 2014 hike. My concern is a trustworthy shuttle to the trail head and back as I don’t want a rental. How have you handled this issue?

    Good luck. Mark..

    • Stick says:


      Unfortunately, we did not get the permit, so I never worried about a shuttle (although, 3 of the people that were going live in the area so I was not too worried about that part). We could have tried for a walk up permit, however, I will be traveling to far and have a limited amount of time, so I opted not to go for that route. Instead, there is a group of us that will be doing a hike in the ONP now!

      Also, I agree, a shuttle is definitely something to get in order, but it appears that getting the permits are a bit harder. I would wager that my app was likely one of the fits 20 (if not less) that got sent in, but due to the way they process them, it was one of the last to be picked… I am not a fan of the way they handle the permit process, but there isn’t much I can do about it but try again another time, which I am sure I will…

      Anyway, good luck on your 2014 permits! Hopefully you will get them, and enjoy a beautiful hike!


  16. Mark T says:

    Olympic National Park will be an awesome hike despite no permit this year for WT. Is that why they call it the Wonderland Trail, because you are left wondering if you are going to get your permit:)? The OCD side of me cringes at the prospect of a “non-selection” for WT and,as you,traveling from the East Coast as a walk-up is too stressful and costly! Enjoy your hike in Olympic National Park and I look forward to the post-trip write-up. Mark…

    • We got permits for late September for the WT…and to be honest, most people that walk-up in September will most likely get a permit, especially if you are starting on a weekday. has gotten walk up permits most of the time he has tried for them…lots of people do, though I understand your hesitancy flying across the country and crossing your fingers for permits. I’m going to Glacier NP this summer, in August, with no permits (just found out FINALLY last week) and we are going to hope for the best. I guess when it comes to having fun in the outdoors, I am always cautiously optimistic, which is soooo counter to my negative realism sometimes in normal life. 🙂

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