I was excited to hear that my Army buddy John was moving to Idaho and when he did, it didn’t take long for us to discuss future backpacking trips. We reviewed a few options but I am not going to lie, with names like She Devil, He Devil, The Ogre, The Goblin, Twin Imps, Devil’s Throne, and Devil’s Tooth, the 27 mile loop around the Seven Devils appealed to my inner nerd and it made the short list.
The 13.5 mile hike out to Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park has been on my “Must Hike List” for quite some time. After an exchange of text messages, Eric and I devised a plan to give this trail a go on Father’s Day weekend.
Chalet at Enchanted Valley
There’s a thing called the Liebster Award that is getting bounced around the backpacking blogosphere right now. Spelt! of Equilibrium Sands and Spelt Was Here was gracious enough to tag me, a man who is in love the sound of his own voice and who never turns down an opportunity to let his inner megalomaniac run wild!
For Mother’s Day 2014, I was able to combine two of my favorite activities, hiking and wearing women’s clothing.
Mt. St. Helens summit
I’ve made a deal with my kids and my nephews. Once a year, they get to choose an adventure to go on with their uncle/dad. For my nephew I.K., it was going to be a backpacking trip. Period.
More important, this would be his first backpacking trip.
This was a new experience for me as I have never hiked a trail which offers this kind of elevation gain and loss over 93 miles. What I have learned about myself from section hiking 55 miles of it in total, a 20 mile day on the Wonderland Trail to be at the upper threshold of my abilities for me at this point in time, a 15 mile day would be an easy day with time to spare for photography and an occasional side trip, and 10 miles or less to be a relaxing vacation.
White River to Sunrise Visitor Center (Time for a reality check)
Continuing the theme of the previous two days, my eyes opened before my alarm. This time however, I was horrified to see that it was only 1:30am. I had previously repackaged my ibuprofen into a ziplock bag where I wrote the dosing instructions in marker onto the bag. Did I mistakenly purchase ibuprofen with caffeine? That will remain a mystery but I could not fall back to sleep.
Sunrise Visitor Center
Nickel Creek to White River (Stealing Peter’s miles and giving to Paul)~
My eyes once again opened before my alarm. I reached for my phone to check the time. Three-freaking-thirty in the a-freaking-m. Better than waking up at 2:30 the day before but I was still hoping for another two hours of sleep.
Longmire WIC to Nickel Creek (Time For An Attitude Adjustment)~
I had hoped to hike between 18-20 miles on my first day but due to the full camps, I hiked less than 14.
I stepped onto the trail at 8:30am and started making my way to the Nickel Creek campground. At risk of sounding like an ungrateful trustafarian brat, the southern portion of the Wonderland Trail is pretty uninspiring. More often than not there is a road within earshot and the trail rarely offers up any views in this section.
My eyes were open before my alarm went off.
“Go back to sleep. Go back to sleep. Please, please, please…. go back to sleep.”
Well that didn’t work. I may be a middle aged man but before I leave on a big trip, I’m basically an eight-year-old on Christmas morning at heart.
I surrendered to the fact that blissful slumber was not mine to be had and rolled out of bed. I was up nearly two hours before I was supposed to and running on four hours of sleep. Not the end of the world but I hate starting a trip this way.
All buckled up and ready to go.