Day 5: Mowich Lake to Dick Creek

July 5, 2014

Wow, can’t believe we will be north of Mt Rainier today – we started south! Ha! Damn these cold mornings.”

We slept in until 7:30am and it was some of the best sleep I’d had yet on the trail. It was cold that morning, but we could see the sun trying to shine through the clouds as it gradually came up over the surrounding ridges. Breakfast that morning consisted of sharing three freeze-dried packages (thanks again, Xin and Daniel!) as we waited for the morning to warm up.

It was a cold morning at Mowich Lake Camp before the sun broke through the clouds

It was a cold morning at Mowich Lake Camp before the sun broke through the clouds

As predicted, the sun did come out and the camp warmed up significantly. Because of the amenities at the drive-in camp (picnic tables, lake-side location), we decided it would be a good morning to do a little laundry. We hung around in our undies while we washed clothes and waited for them to dry. A few day hikers came through camp during the morning, but nevermind them! We were in our own headspace.

Leaving Mowich Lake Camp

Leaving Mowich Lake Camp

 

We packed up camp and headed out at 11am after dropping off the remaining food we couldn’t carry back at the food cache by the ranger station. We had stuffed our packs full despite only needing three days of food and they were heavy. We circled around the west side of Mowich Lake as we continued on the trail toward Ipsut Pass.

The half-frozen lake was quite lovely, and we were thankful we got to have this whole area to ourselves the previous night.

Mowich Lake

Plenty of snow and ice on and around Mowich Lake

Crystal clear waters along the edges of Mowich Lake

Crystal clear waters along the edge of Mowich Lake

It was a slight climb up to Ipsut Pass, and we passed several day hikers before making the steep descent into the lush valley below. There was a lot of bear scat on this section of trail, though we never had any encounters. A lot of Wonderland hikers take the Spray Park alternate, which follows a higher elevation trail, and skip this section of trail because it lacks mountain views through the temperate rainforest. If it were later in the season, we might’ve done the same, but we had enough snow in the previous days that we had decided to follow the true Wonderland Trail down to Ipsut Creek. Although a steep descent, this section of trail was gorgeous! And the most diverse section of greenery we’d experience on the whole trail.

Wildflowers and overgrown plants covered the steep ridge down to Ipsut Creek

Wildflowers and overgrown plants covered the steep ridge trail down to Ipsut Creek

After finishing our day’s long, deep descent, the trail leveled out a bit at the botttom of the valley. We reached the lower crossing of the Carbon River and had to take the Northern Loop Trail detour, as the Wonderland Trail is still closed from 2006 flooding from the lower crossing to the upper crossing suspension bridge. That was the only section of Wonderland Trail we didn’t get to do, but that’s how it goes.

We reconnected with the Wonderland Trail on the eastern side of the Carbon River suspension bridge. Although not necessary for moving forward, we took a short break and both crossed over the bridge and back just for fun. From the bridge, we could see the terminus of the Carbon Glacier, the United State’s lower 48’s lowest-elevation glacier, and source of the Carbon River. There was also a headless Batman hanging out.

Carbon Glacier from the Carbon River suspension bridge, low clouds blocking our view of Mt Rainier

Carbon Glacier from the Carbon River suspension bridge, low clouds blocking our view of Mt Rainier

the glaciated Carbon River raging below

the glaciated Carbon River raging below

headless Batman and Julia

headless Batman and Julia

Carbon River suspension bridge

Carbon River suspension bridge

The last mile up to Dick Creek was a rocky climb, and although steep, it was so cool to hike alongside the Carbon Glacier. It was cloudy, but also pretty humid. We snapped a selfie next to the glacier before making our final push for camp.

posing with Carbon Glacier, about to complete our 5th day

posing with Carbon Glacier, about to complete our 5th day

We reached Dick Creek Camp at 6:45pm and couldn’t wait to drop our heavy packs. My body felt sore, especially my feet. There are two sites at little Dick Creek Camp, and we got our first outdoor toilet with a view (photo to come tomorrow). We had dinner down by the creek on a small, sunny patch of rock, and lounged around camp before hitting the tent at 10pm.

Coming up Carbon River to the glacier was steep but fucking awesome. Holy fuck glacier!”

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