Without repeating myself in this 2018 hike section, I’ll synopsize these two days; an incredible weather window that just couldn’t be passed up. In order to avoid involving anyone else for logistics, I decided to finish the trail by positioning myself via bike and looping back twice. I started at Longmire for the short day on Sunday, October 21st. This allowed me to hike the Wonderland from Box Canyon to Longmire. On day two I drove to Box Canyon, retrieved my steed from the forest, and biked to the north side of the park at the Fryingpan Creek trail head, which is just a few miles before White River. This allowed me to hike from Fryingpan Creek to Box Canyon, taking me past Summerland, over Panhandle Gap and the Cowlitz Divide via Indian Bar, then regaining my vehicle. Then it was just a matter of driving around to pick up my bike.
Details are in the blog post above, but this proved to be superbly enjoyable. Aside from easy access areas like Reflection Lakes and Summerland, I had the trail to myself. The latest I had done the Wonderland in the past was October 1-3 in the 90’s, also taking advantage of superb weather. As this week wears on the forecast calls for snow levels to drop to 4500 feet, so winter is afoot. It was a sublime experience to cover this section of the trail this late in the season without contending with snow (there were a few icy spots before Panhandle Gap from previous snowfall that had not melted out).
I’m putting this year’s Wonderland as my #31, unique in both the execution and timing for the three segments. There’s always something new to experience on this excursion, no matter how many times I’ve set foot to the trail over the years. Reference the map above for loop particulars, the total stats were 79 miles with 13,300’ of elevation gain/loss.