Hiking Log: Fryingpan Creek to White River
Mileage: 5 1/2 miles, give or take
Elevation Range: Pretty level - although there was one hill that got me huffing and puffing. Probably a sign that I still have a ways to go to be in shape - people that I passed were asking me if I had been to Summerland (a fine place, and beautiful, but no - I was just strolling on the level trail).
I've got a project to hike the 93 mile trail around Mount Rainier (the Wonderland Trail) in bits and pieces, and then one day to hike the entire thing in one trip. This trip is one small snippet of that trail, an easy stroll following a road for a while and then following the riverbed of the White River.
There were three different trailheads that I could have parked at; Fryingpan Creek, White River campground, and a spot sort of middlish between the two. I first tried the Fryingpan Creek location, and found no easy parking. I continued up to the White River campground, and couldn't find easy parking OR the trailhead, so instead, I parked at the midway spot.
This got me on the trail once again around noon, which was again later than I hoped to get going. One day, I'll be true to my intentions.
The hike to Fryingpan creek was easy and uneventful. The weather was comfortable - not too warm, and an occasional cooling breeze now and then. Pretty much ideal, really. I saw no people - none - until I returned to the trailhead where I started.
Shortly thereafter, the trail pitched up noticably. Probably not significantly, but I found myself slowing down.
The highlight of the hike was crossing White River. This was accomplished over a 2' wide log across the river. I've always been a little nervous around heights, and logs across rivers aren't usually very high off the ground, but the footing's often precarious, plus they might be wet, and if you fall into the water, oh my... Yeah. I'm less nervous at this point in my life than when I was eight, but not nearly as much as I'd like. I mention this because I was crossing a fast-flowing river by walking on a log mere feet above the silty white water, and I had the most amazing view of the mountain. Truly an outstanding moment, and that's taking into account my irrational log-phobia.
After crossing the river, I found myself in the campground, which was where I turned around. I crossed the river again and had lunch and leisurely strolled the trail back to my car. I think I forget how much my mood is lifted by a lunch break.
Along the way, I passed a family. The father asked me if it was much further. That depends, sir - where are you going? I imagine he was hoping for a short nature trail. I told him to hike until he felt like turning around. I suppose that I could have told him not to bother turning around after around 50 miles, but I didn't suppose he was in the mood to take the full loop on that trip.
After returning to my car, I set out towards my favorite restaurant in the area only to get stuck on highway 410. I thought that they were doing road repairs, and only letting one lane of traffic through in one direction at a time, but it turns out there was a fire on one side of the road. After something like 15 minutes of waiting, we got to proceed past the fire, and I was impressed at how under control they had it. Sprinklers and chainsaws and all manner of other equipment being brought to bear. Almost as though the National Park Service knows something about fighting fires.
I made it to the restaurant in time to have a tasty (and probably too indulgent) dinner, and then home tired and pleased.
Lessons learned: Eat lunch earlier than you think you ought to. Remember that sunblock and insect repellant, really, really. Remember your camera.
Thoughts for future hikes: Depending on when the White River campground closes for the season, I might camp there on some Friday night in the near future, then scramble up to Sunrise on Saturday morning, and then back down Saturday afternoon.
Things not to do next time: Play a Cyndi Lauper CD the last hour before hitting the trail. I had "Money Changes Everything" stuck in my head through most of the hike. Through sheer will I was able to dislodge it, only to get "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" stuck instead. Could be worse, could have been "She Bop".