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  1. #1
    Registered User Megapixel's Avatar
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    Default Wonderland Trail Permits

    I have banked on two solo backpacking trips this year, one of which Lord willing and the creeks don't rise being the Wonderland Trail. I have read about the trip extensively and searched some on the posts already here on Whiteblaze and so I understand the walkup option, the rough road-ride to Mowich. I do have some specific questions if anyone would be so inclined to help me out:

    1. If I don't get a permit, where else would be a must experience ( I have never backpacked the West Coast unless you count Kauai.)

    2. I am thinking of starting at Mowich Lake and heading CCW saving Spray Park for last (if I end up having the legs for it). I am also hoping this start location and direction will aid me in a possible permit? I am already starting and ending on a week day although the end of the trip does conclude over Labor Day. I could float my start dates to ending the trip before then but I figured August is a wash anyway as far as number of permits applied for.

    3. Is there a place to crash in the rental car at the Park until my start the following day or better yet a cheap option for camp /stay between SEATAC and Mowich? I have thought of putting down my night one location at Mowich Lake (starting point) but I'm afraid if I get in too late it would be my only option for night one and thus no alternate for day one setting me up for a denial on the permit if Mowich is full on that day.

    4. I'm going to apply for alternate camps each day in addition to my primary choices to have increased odds at receiving a permit. Is there any other things that may help increase those odds? I'm going solo so I guess I can only put one permit in from what I've read...

    5. Would there be a reason to apply for two people instead of one, such as offering someone on the forums the second spot to help split the rental car fees? Probably a long shot, but I figured with the limited permits it couldn't hurt?

    Thank you for the help. Hopeful and ready to see Washington!

    http://www.postholer.com/ontrail
    2011 H.F.-Duncannon, Katahdin-Rangeley
    2012 Springer-Erwin



  2. #2
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    For your ďI donít get a permit where can I goĒ? Option.
    Sometimes you can get silly cheap tickets to Denver International Airport.
    The Wind River Range is an easy dayís drive from Denver. The Big Sandy and/or Elkhart Park trailheads are ideal places for exploring the Winds.
    Wayne

  3. #3
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    If you don't score a Wonderland permit, from everything I've gathered there are tons of just as beautiful hikes in the N. Cascades. You could certainly have another person apply at the same time and hope one of you secures a permit, but just know that you'd both have to stay together for the duration of the hike. As tempting as it is to increase my odds, I wouldn't want to be tethered to another person for the duration of my trip, let alone a stranger. Either way, good luck, but not that good...I'll be applying for the same time frame. ;-) I've scored some tough permits in the past few years (JMT-HI, R2R, Zion Narrows), with Wonderland being my lone denial. It's a tough one to score.
    While searching for that unknown edge in life, never forget to look home. For the greatest edge you can find in life is to stand in the protective shadow of those who love you.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Megapixel View Post
    I have banked on two solo backpacking trips this year, one of which Lord willing and the creeks don't rise....
    The first time this phrase was known to be in print it was written by a man named Benjamin Hawkins in the late 18th century. Hawkins was a politician in the late 18th century and early 19th century as well as an Indian diplomat. This was back in the day where American Indians and the white settlers were constantly fighting for the land in the United States. While in the south, Hawkins was requested by the President of the United States to return to Washington. In his response, he was said to write, “God willing and the Creek don’t rise.”

    Benjamin Hawkins capitalized the work “Creek”. Therefore, it is deduced that what he was referring to was not a body of water at all, but instead was the Creek Indian tribe. The Creek Indians were also known as the Muscogee tribe which were located in the southeastern region of the United States (Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Oklahoma). Since the Creek Indians were prevalent in the area where he was located, Hawkins knew that there was a great risk of the Creek Indians attacking.

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Creek-people


    Sorry to hijack the thread, but I wanted to put this out there...Good luck on your hike


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    As far as two people vs one goes ... my guess would be that it wouldn't make a difference to getting the permit, so I'd go for two and hope for company. Worst case, you still go alone, nothing lost. (Also, hit me up if you get a permit and want company, heh!)

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Megapixel View Post
    I have banked on two solo backpacking trips this year, one of which Lord willing and the creeks don't rise being the Wonderland Trail. I have read about the trip extensively and searched some on the posts already here on Whiteblaze and so I understand the walkup option, the rough road-ride to Mowich. I do have some specific questions if anyone would be so inclined to help me out:

    1. If I don't get a permit, where else would be a must experience ( I have never backpacked the West Coast unless you count Kauai.)

    2. I am thinking of starting at Mowich Lake and heading CCW saving Spray Park for last (if I end up having the legs for it). I am also hoping this start location and direction will aid me in a possible permit? I am already starting and ending on a week day although the end of the trip does conclude over Labor Day. I could float my start dates to ending the trip before then but I figured August is a wash anyway as far as number of permits applied for.

    3. Is there a place to crash in the rental car at the Park until my start the following day or better yet a cheap option for camp /stay between SEATAC and Mowich? I have thought of putting down my night one location at Mowich Lake (starting point) but I'm afraid if I get in too late it would be my only option for night one and thus no alternate for day one setting me up for a denial on the permit if Mowich is full on that day.

    4. I'm going to apply for alternate camps each day in addition to my primary choices to have increased odds at receiving a permit. Is there any other things that may help increase those odds? I'm going solo so I guess I can only put one permit in from what I've read...

    5. Would there be a reason to apply for two people instead of one, such as offering someone on the forums the second spot to help split the rental car fees? Probably a long shot, but I figured with the limited permits it couldn't hurt?

    Thank you for the help. Hopeful and ready to see Washington!
    1. If you fail to get the walk-up permit, drive on over to White Pass, just south of Mt. Rainier National Park and hike south on the PCT. No permit is required. You can park your car at White Pass. There are several exit points on the PCT where you can thumb a ride back to White Pass. The hike south from White Pass will take you through the Goat Rocks Wilderness. This option would be good after mid-July.

    2. Hiking CCW from Mowich might increase your chances. Their are more camp sites on the west side than on the east. The bottleneck for permits is on the east side because Indian Bar has only a few tent sites. Summerland has a lot more sites, but it is also one of the most popular sites for one night campers. Your chances would increase if you delayed until after school starts back (Labor Day). In my opinion, September is the best time to hike the Wonderland.

    3. Mowich Lake would be a good place for your first night. It is a drive-up site. There are quite a few tent sites there. If that is full, there are some places you can camp in the National Forest on the Mowich Lake road before you reach the park. I have never stayed their, but I have observed people with campers parked there.

    4. If you are planning on a walk-up permit, you will be able to see which sites are available when you walk up. If you are planning to start at Mowich Lake, you will go to the Carbon River Office. The last time I was there, they had a white board on the will that showed which sites were available. At the Longmire Office, they had a computer terminal with the same information.

    5. The number of people on your permit won't make a difference. One camp site can serve 1-6 people. They are booked first come, first serve. (There are some group sites, but they are even harder to get.) However, if you think you may invite a friend, go ahead and put two people. It is easier to drop people from the permit than it is to add.
    Shutterbug

  7. #7
    Registered User Megapixel's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the help! Shutterbug, I am applying ahead of time, not doing the walk up option. Appreciate your time answering all of my questions!

    http://www.postholer.com/ontrail
    2011 H.F.-Duncannon, Katahdin-Rangeley
    2012 Springer-Erwin



  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Megapixel View Post
    Thanks for all the help! Shutterbug, I am applying ahead of time, not doing the walk up option. Appreciate your time answering all of my questions!
    I can't give you tips about how to succeed in the initial lottery. I have been successful only once. I have usually gotten a walk-up permit.
    Shutterbug

  9. #9
    Registered User Megapixel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shutterbug View Post
    I can't give you tips about how to succeed in the initial lottery. I have been successful only once. I have usually gotten a walk-up permit.
    No worries. I will keep the walk up in mind and if not then the goat rocks as a great second option. Is White River of Sunrise a better option for a food Cache? I see on the map that they are super close together but can't tell if one is closer to the trail than the other??

    http://www.postholer.com/ontrail
    2011 H.F.-Duncannon, Katahdin-Rangeley
    2012 Springer-Erwin



  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Megapixel View Post
    No worries. I will keep the walk up in mind and if not then the goat rocks as a great second option. Is White River of Sunrise a better option for a food Cache? I see on the map that they are super close together but can't tell if one is closer to the trail than the other??
    I like Sunrise better because you can get a hamburger there. There are ranger stations at both places. Be sure to check the hours. On one of my hikes I arrived at White River and the Ranger Station was closed. If I had been relying on it for a cache, I would have had a problem. If you are starting at Mowich going CCW, leave your caches at Longmire and Sunrise. If you don't want to bother with caches, both Longmire and Sunrise have small general stores.

    The Ranger Station and store at Sunrise are about 1/2 mile off the Wonderland Trail -- farther than that from the Sunrise Campground. The Ranger Station at White River is adjacent to the Wonderland Trail. So, if you are concerned about adding distance, White River Station is closer to the trail.
    Shutterbug

  11. #11
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    If I don't get a permit, where else would be a must experience ( I have never backpacked the West Coast unless you count Kauai.)

    Well kauai was a great start.

    Goat Rocks Wilderness. It's one of the PCT thrus cited most liked places. It was one of mine.

    Much of the PCT around Mt Rainer area is great backpacking. Doing some MR NP hiking combined with Pct stuff is a worthy trip.

    One can take public transportation to the town of Lake Chelan from Seattle accessing the PCT at Stehekin via the ferry. Hike south on the PCT. It's all great scenery...to Snoqualamie or N to Rainy Pass. Some great backpacking. It can be reversed. I've done this on PCT LASHes and added it to a PCT NOBO thru hike. Awesome.

    Mt Baker Snoqualamie Wilderness.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megapixel View Post
    I have banked on two solo backpacking trips this year, one of which Lord willing and the creeks don't rise being the Wonderland Trail. I have read about the trip extensively and searched some on the posts already here on Whiteblaze and so I understand the walkup option, the rough road-ride to Mowich. I do have some specific questions if anyone would be so inclined to help me out:

    1. If I don't get a permit, where else would be a must experience ( I have never backpacked the West Coast unless you count Kauai.) As you have read, there are great places nearby. I plan on a loop in the William O Douglass Wilderness just east of the park in the fall. Order up a map for planning and remember that some trails get little or no maintenance.

    2. I am thinking of starting at Mowich Lake and heading CCW saving Spray Park for last (if I end up having the legs for it). I am also hoping this start location and direction will aid me in a possible permit? I am already starting and ending on a week day although the end of the trip does conclude over Labor Day. I could float my start dates to ending the trip before then but I figured August is a wash anyway as far as number of permits applied for. The west side is the hardest part of the WT. Otherwise a good plan. You can get your permit at Longmire or White River and set food cashes at each (actually Sunrise on the west side). Lighten up you pack.

    3. Is there a place to crash in the rental car at the Park until my start the following day or better yet a cheap option for camp /stay between SEATAC and Mowich? I have thought of putting down my night one location at Mowich Lake (starting point) but I'm afraid if I get in too late it would be my only option for night one and thus no alternate for day one setting me up for a denial on the permit if Mowich is full on that day. Like Shutterbug says, it is a good place to camp before starting to hike.

    4. I'm going to apply for alternate camps each day in addition to my primary choices to have increased odds at receiving a permit. Is there any other things that may help increase those odds? I'm going solo so I guess I can only put one permit in from what I've read... As a walk up, it may help to start far from the popular sites, increasing your odds of getting them. This again suggests Mowich Lake as a start. Also consider sites near, but not directly on the WT. Snow Lake is beautiful.

    5. Would there be a reason to apply for two people instead of one, such as offering someone on the forums the second spot to help split the rental car fees? Probably a long shot, but I figured with the limited permits it couldn't hurt?

    Thank you for the help. Hopeful and ready to see Washington!
    Final advice: Take 10 or more days, unless you are super fit or hate relaxing in camp.
    Last edited by Feral Bill; 03-06-2019 at 18:59.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  13. #13

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    If you are a strong hiker you can do the WT in day hikes, without any need for permits. It's helpful to have someone to shuttle the vehicle for you (involves some very long drives). But don't try this if you are a novice...

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    If you are a strong hiker you can do the WT in day hikes, without any need for permits. It's helpful to have someone to shuttle the vehicle for you (involves some very long drives). But don't try this if you are a novice...
    RockDoc, I would be interested to hear how you would do the west side in day hikes. I consider myself to be a strong hiker, but I can't make it from Mowich Lake to Longmire or the West Side Road in a day. I agree that the rest of the Wonderland can be done with long day hikes.

    I did meet two guys who were doing the entire WT in 48 hours. They were on hour 40 when I met them. They said, "This is the dumbest thing I have ever done."

    I met two others who were running it in three days, so I guess it could be done.
    Shutterbug

  15. #15
    Registered User Megapixel's Avatar
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    More questions have come up. If you receive a permit in advance through reservation where does it get issued? By mail? Or can I pick it up directly at Mowich? In the case of a walk up can I go to Mowich to see what’s available or do I need to go to another location to do that? I’m hoping not to have to travel halfway around the park and back to Mowich in either case.

    http://www.postholer.com/ontrail
    2011 H.F.-Duncannon, Katahdin-Rangeley
    2012 Springer-Erwin



  16. #16

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    We did Longmire to Mowich Lake in 13 hours, starting in the dark and finishing in the dark. Yes, that was tough, but you can do it if you hike strong for enough hours (again, not for Novices). This was our second day, after hiking from White River to Longmire. Our third day was Mowich Lake to White River, which for some reason seemed to get easier. So we did it in 3 consecutive days, but after a lot of training that winter, spring, and summer. My wife drove the van around, with our camping gear. We spend night two in Longmire Lodge as a nice splurge.

    The interesting thing was how much of the WT, IMO, is not so great and I have no interest in repeating. Like the whole North side (Edit Note: this was written in error, I meant to say the South Side), and much of the buggy, mostly viewless West side. Having said that, we've gone back twice to hike the 18 miles from Box Canyon to White River (East side), which is super cool and reaches the highest point of the WT at Panhandle Gap. That, and the spectacular North side are worth doing again, but IMO that's about it. YMMV.

    I would also add that we passed a number of tired, overburdened backpackers who said they were not having a good time spending 9 or 10 days mostly swating bugs. They saw the size of our day packs and said "that's the way to do it".
    Last edited by RockDoc; 03-08-2019 at 15:29.

  17. #17

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    I should add that we did this in our mid-50's, and I was quite overweight. We're not talking about 20-something gazelles here... I think ordinary people can work up to hiking 20 or 30 miles in a quick day hike. With more training you can do several in a row. I don't necessarily recommend it, I prefer to hike more slowly, but if you can't get a camping permit it is an option at places like WT.

  18. #18
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megapixel View Post
    More questions have come up. If you receive a permit in advance through reservation where does it get issued? By mail? Or can I pick it up directly at Mowich? In the case of a walk up can I go to Mowich to see what’s available or do I need to go to another location to do that? I’m hoping not to have to travel halfway around the park and back to Mowich in either case.
    Go to the source. You collect the permit from a Ranger Station before 10am of the first day of the trip. Mowich may, or may not, have a Ranger Station.
    https://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvis...ess-permit.htm
    Wayne

  19. #19
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    This may help if you havenít seen it before.
    https://www.wonderlandguides.com/hik...nerary-planner
    Have fun!
    Wayne

  20. #20
    Registered User Megapixel's Avatar
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    Thanks again to everyone who has helped me plan. I am quite surprised that no one has chimed in saying to go see Yosemite as a backup plan to not receiving a permit. This is still on my radar as a backup as well but unsure of exactly what a 10 day trip might look like there.

    http://www.postholer.com/ontrail
    2011 H.F.-Duncannon, Katahdin-Rangeley
    2012 Springer-Erwin



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