These posts will cover all the areas I'm visiting in the confines of Mt. Rainier National Park in celebration of 35 years exploring here, including new places with a smattering of old.
Recently I've felt in very good shape with a fair amount of hiking under my belt; I've even dropped a few pounds to my lowest weight in a couple of years. I had it in mind to blast the Wonderland, aiming for 48 hours or less. Alas, this did not work out. Right from the get go I didn't feel strong climbing, although the flats and downhills felt great. Starting at Longmire, I wanted to do the hardest part of the trail first proceeding CW, entailing 7 major climbs along this 57 mile stretch with 16,000 feet of elevation. I consider the remaining section from Sunrise to Longmire (CW) to be the easy part, at 36 miles and 6,000 feet of climb, bringing the total to 93 miles and 22,000 feet of elevation gain/loss. The downhills require specific training, as a smaller section of the quads must be engaged for braking. With my downhill legs tuned up, I was surprised that my climbing wasn't strong; I never felt good going uphill and progressively got worse. This resulted in a slowing pace, not only putting me behind "schedule" but left me suffering enough to forego the last 36 mile section. I started at Longmire at 5:18 AM and limped into Sunrise at 5 PM the next day, after taking a 3 hour snooze early morning. When I concluded that I wasn't up for the last 6,000 feet of climb, I texted a buddy of mine (via InReach) who selflessly picked me up at Sunrise and drove me back to my vehicle at Longmire, where I cleaned up, ate dinner and proceeded to crash in my truck for 12 hours. The lack of soreness in my legs tells me that something else thwarted my attempt....better luck next time.