The sun rose early but we didn't stir for quite awhile. The very idea of getting up and hiking kept us in our tent longer than usual. I moved my toes around in the bottom of my sleeping bag. To my surprise, they felt so much better than the previous night. When we finally emerged from our tent I was relieved that walking was not as painful as it had been.
With nothing more than a Lemon Zest Luna Bar for breakfast, we headed out of camp. Before getting too far we filled up our water bottles at the silty Pyramid Creek. The water was cloudy and a bit gritty but we purified it and it tasted fine.
The trail started out uphill and we didn't stop hiking uphill for three and a half hours. The bugs nipped at us every chance they could even through our clothing and I was helpless without bug spray. (Although, I'm convinced that the mosquitoes and flies around Rainier are immune to the stuff) I was thankful for my head net. In fact, I don't think I would have enjoyed much of anything without it. Earlier on during our trek we saw a woman in full body mosquito gear, a net covering her whole body. I am ashamed to admit that I snickered under my breath at the excessiveness of it all, by this time, however, I wanted one of my own!
The scenery was monotonous as it didn't change from the shadowy forest setting for the first half of the day, but after awhile the trees opened up to flower-filled meadows and high alpine shrubbery. In the sunlight the variety of flying insects were highlighted as they busily flitted this way and that. The bees bounced from wildflower to wildflower fulfilling their God-given purpose, while the flies and mosquitoes flew aimlessly looking for their next meal, and the butterflies adorned the path with their array of color and gracefulness.
As we approached Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, we saw a sight that I had been hoping to see from day one; a young black bear leisurely meandering along the edge of a pond that separated him from us. We stopped in our tracks and pulled out our cameras. He wasn't very near but near enough to enjoy the sight of him without fear. This filled me with joy as I had been a little disappointed in the lack of wildlife thus far. I must add here that earlier that day Emily told me that she had been praying that we wouldn't see a bear, which prompted me to silently pray a Rosary in hopes to see one. There was a brief moment where the bear looked up and our eyes met before he jaunted off into the woods in the opposite direction.
|Not a very good picture, but proof of our bear sighting!|
"Something just bit me!!" she shrieked.Her hat and head net already lying on the ground at her feet, I figured the 'something' must have just bit her on the head. Sure enough, a fat bee flew out from her head net unscathed. It had stung her on the forehead. Frustrated at the unprovoked attack of semi-venomous creatures, Emily seemed to me to be unable to thoroughly enjoy the rest of the day.
According to Hiking the Wonderland Trail, by Tami Asars, this area is rich in history. To the west was Mt. Ararat, named by Ben Longmire who wrote,
"I named it because I found there some long slabs of wood that had turned to stone and I thought they might have been part of old Noah's boat. I also found a stump with a ring around it as if his rope might have been tied there. It was all stone." (quoted in Dee Molenaar's The Challenge of Rainier)Indian Henry's Hunting Ground itself comes with its own stories. Two pioneer explorers are said to have first encountered a friendly Native American man in 1862 near Mt. Rainier. When they asked his name he said what sounded like, "Sotolick." As legend has it, since that name was too difficult to pronounce the pioneers decided to rename him Indian Henry. History has it that Indian Henry had recently had contact with Jesuit missionaries and might have been trying to say 'Catholic', but the truth belongs to Indian Henry himself.
|The patrol cabin at Indian Henry's Hunting Ground|
|Meadow view from the patrol cabin's front porch.|
At last, we came to a place that was on my summer bucket list last year: Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge. I never got around to checking it off my list last summer, but now was my opportunity to do so. Approximately 150 feet long and more than 200 feet high, this massive bridge spans the angry Tahoma Creek far below. I have a passion in my soul for suspension bridges. There is just something about being suspended in the air by a swaying and bouncing bridge that thrills me to the core. A cool breeze flowed off the Tahoma Glacier and down the path of the river. It blew my hair and rosied my cheeks. I could hear nothing but the rumbling of the river far beneath my feet. We took our time and many pictures. This was yet another 'favorite' moment on the Wonderland Trail.
|Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge|
|Rainier from Emerald Ridge|
|Rocky and barren moraine of Success Cleaver|
|Walking the narrow, crumbly path near Emerald Ridge.|
|Beginning the descent to South Puyallup River Camp|
At camp, we took the first available site, #4. The most difficult hike of every day is when you reach camp and then have to hike the little trail to your site. When we first began hiking the Wonderland Trail we were picky, but this day we would have been happy to set up our tent in the middle of the trail and call it good.
We unloaded our gear and with great anticipation I began to make our long awaited 'half-way to the end' celebration dessert of
I usually like a good thunderstorm but I'll admit it was a little creepy, especially as the storm drew closer and closer. Each clap echoed off the rocky walls of the mountain making it all the more intense. Emily's anxiety grew and soon she was talking about going home....now!! The wind began to blow and we both crawled into the tent. Between the wind, the thunder and Emily worrying about the trees falling on us, I thought I'd never get to sleep. We laid there listening as the storm came closer. I began to grow uneasy and asked Emily if she wanted to say the Rosary with me. She did.
I wasn't surprised, as I have full confidence in the power of God and the help of His Blessed Mother, but I was amazed that as we spoke the final prayers of the Rosary, the thunderstorm had passed and the wind died down completely. On top of that the sun shone for the last hour of daylight.
I thanked the Good Lord for this day and fell asleep scratching the numerous bug bites that covered my arms and legs.
|Emily snapped the first picture just as a mosquito found its dinner, my smile in the second picture hides my incredible urge to itch!|
|Creek near camp where we purified and filled our water supply.|