Cherie Langlois
September 22, 2010

Cherie Langlois trek
Courtesy Trish Kinkelaar
Brett and I got a rainy start to our ill-fated Wonderland hike.

I’m sorry to have been out of touch for so long, but several weeks ago my husband and I decided to unplug from our computers, TV and coffee-maker (oh, the agony) to embark on an off-farm backpacking adventure. Our plan was this: spend 12 days hiking the 90-mile Wonderland Trail encircling Mount Rainier, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that would include trekking through sun-kissed alpine meadows, too beautiful to believe; communing with marmots, pikas and maybe even mountain goats; and pausing for peaceful rests (and some trail mix) beside crystalline streams under moss-draped trees. At last, refreshed and renewed, we would arrive at our trail’s end in triumph—and in the best shape of our lives.

Cherie Langlois trek
Photo by Cherie Langlois
Brett and Pippin admiring the view along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Sadly, reality served us the following instead: a day-long, 10-mile slog through escalating downpour and deepening trail puddles that drenched us and most of our gear; wildlife sightings that consisted primarily of banana slugs (though we did see a pure white slug—cool!); and a damp, dark, chilly night spent next to a river that roared louder as the hours passed. The next day—another 10 miles, one scary river crossing and one slightly less scary landslide traverse later—we trudged into the nearest ranger station, tired and disappointed, but also happy to be alive. 

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Waiting for our rescue ride, Brett and I mulled over what we’d done wrong (i.e. using overly heavy gear, which got much heavier as it became wetter) and what we’d done right (i.e. packed our sleeping bags and emergency clothing in dry bags), and came to the painful conclusion that neither we nor our gear were ready for a long “through hike” in cold, wet conditions. So home we went to dry off, sleep in a warm bed, and figure out what to do with the remainder of our vacation. Farm projects probably, starting with the little greenhouse project we’d been planning all summer.

Cherie Langlois trek
Courtesy Brett Langlois
Pippin, our Coonhound mix, and I enjoy a sunnier trip to Sheep Lake.

By day 3, however, the sun had returned and, despite sore muscles, so had our longing for adventure—even if it were just a little one. We repacked our packs and headed to the sunnier side of the mountain, to one of our favorite sites a mere 2 miles in from the trail head but with miles of mountain trail to explore beyond. And here’s what we found:

  1. Sun-kissed alpine meadows and peaks, too beautiful to believe. 
  2. Pikas, marmots and even mountain goats.
  3. A crystalline lake surrounded by fragrant firs.
  4. Paradise. 

We returned home refreshed and renewed … and ready to start on that greenhouse.

What have you been up to these past few weeks?

~ Cherie

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