Wonderland Trail – Life in a Bob Ross Painting

Bear grass off the trial heading to Indian Bar

Hiking keeps me tough but consistently humbles me by showing me where I have yet to go, all that I have yet to learn.

What have I taken away from hiking the Wonderland trail? I’ve learned that the hiking community is filled with an inspiring, friendly, and all around great group of people. It taught me the mental benefits of being silent for long periods of time. While challenging, I became stronger having to navigate my way through river beds, around washouts and over rushing rivers on small logs…by myself.

I’m grateful that my body carried me successfully and with relative ease through this journey. Contentment came when my mind finally shut off and the racetrack of thoughts ceased to exist. I have such a profound appreciation for this park, and for the beauty that I couldn’t have otherwise seen without this hike.

Heading towards Summerland
Heading back towards Summerland from Indian Bar

I knew that nothing in my life would change significantly the less than two weeks I was on the trail, but my perspective did shift. I hope in moments of chaos, that I can look back on this experience and reset, remembering the feeling I carried with me off the trail.

It’s crazy to me to think that when I moved to Washington in 2016, I was scared to hike Hurricane Ridge…and now I’ve hiked most of Wonderland Trail, and solo! In all, I hiked roughly 87 miles (counting the round trip from Frying Pan Creek to Indian bar and back) and missed roughly 13 miles (the section between Sunrise to Indian bar and from Frying Pan creek to Box Canyon). I know I will go back and hike those sections, if not the entire trail again.

A few nights in the wilderness didn’t provide any ah ha moments of clarity on life or love. What it did do was remind me to hike my own hike, live my life the way I need to, and face each moment as it arrives. It taught me to be a little more like Elsa and let some shit go and enjoy the moments as they present themselves. And when I can’t enjoy those moments, well then just keep on trudging along until something shows up that reminds me to smile, like a hover fly named Dave. Most of all it taught me to be honest, raw and real with those around me, whether or not it makes someone else uncomfortable…to be authentically me, without apology.

My short list of nonsense:

  • If you happen upon a solo hiker, don’t assume they want trail company, as they may not. And if you’re itching to hike with them, ask if it’s ok to hike for a bit and then gauge the group temperament as you go.
  • If you’re a dude reading this and you come across a solo female hiker, I would recommend not asking her the following as both have the potential to make her feel uncomfortable.
    • If she’s alone
    • Where she’s camping for the night
  • Ladies, in the words of My favorite murder podcast hosts…fuck politeness. If your intuition leaves you uncomfortable, don’t feel like you need to be nice just to make someone else’s hike better. Slap on that RBF and hike your ass away!

The Well Pickled Wonderland Gear List

  • Gregory Diva 60 pack
  • Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad – Comfortable and easy to inflate/deflate but its super loud if you’re a roller.
  • MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove – No issues and was happy with it
  • MSR Titan Kettle
  • Snow Peak Titanium Spork
  • Snow Peak Titanium Single 450 Cup
  • Underwear: ExOfficio Give-N-Go Bikini Briefs – Ugly as shit but supremely comfortable all day long! Patagonia Barely Bikini Underwear – not comfortable and only used to sleep in, I wouldn’t hike in them nor buy them again.
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent – Super easy to setup and break down. More than I needed but appreciated the extra space.
  • Women’s REI joule sleeping bag – Great bag, kept me warm, but lost more feathers than I would expect and not sure it would hold up great for a long endurance PCT type hike.
  • Patagonia R1 Full-Zip Hoodie – Bought on a recommendation from a friend and I can’t live without this now. I take it almost everywhere I go.
  • The North Face Bones Beanie
  • The North Face Etip Gloves
  • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Down Jacket – Packs up into its pocket and I used it as a pillow. Super light and surprisingly warm, I would purchase again for sure.
  • Arc’teryx Zeta SL Rain jacket & pants – Kept me dry during almost three days of rain…enough said.
  • Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir – 2.5 Liters – Filled it up at night and most days it was enough water to get me through the whole day.
  • Nalgene Wide-Mouth Water Bottle – 32 fl. – Kept empty during the day and mostly used to filter water into at night for cooking so I didn’t deplete my bladder. Also had as a backup in case anything happened to the reservoir.
  • Katadyn hiker pro filter – Bulky but you can filter water from almost any water source.
  • My essentials bag (first aid, fire starter, headlamp and batteries, duct tape, rope, Mylar blanket, Swiss army knife)
  • Camera
  • Pee rag and a few wipes, tiny towel and a couple of zip lock bags
  • Roll-on Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a few bug repellent lotion packets
  • Seattle chocolates
  • Journal
  • I used Sea to Summit dry sacks for my essentials bag, clothes bag and food bag
  • Clothes: I had what I wore during the day and then Patagonia long johns at night, no additional clothing carried other than the layers and rain gear mentioned above.
  • Smartwool socks – 3 pairs (one to wear during the day, one pair for at night and one spare pair).


  • Green Trails Map – Mount Rainier Wonderland
  • Guthook App  – Map of the park, up to date info on water sources and tracking of location on trail as a back up to compass
  • Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way Satellite – mainly for emergency purposes only and good for weather updates.
  • Compass

Research (did not take with me):

  • Hiking the Wonderland Trail – Tami Asars

4 thoughts on “Wonderland Trail – Life in a Bob Ross Painting

  1. Great trip report! Thanks for the gear list…nice to see someone else still prefers the old school filtering systems 🙂

    1. Thanks Nancy! And I love my old school filter…my brother suggested it and he doesn’t usually steer me wrong. And I feel secure knowing I can squeeze water from a near puddle if I had to.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your trip with readers like me. Your pictures are gorgeous and you are an incredibly skilled writer. I’m now even more excited to do the Wonderland Trail, experiencing Bob Ross first-hand.

    Do you have other trail journals like this? Looking forward to reading about the PCT.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words Christy. I have more trail posts in my head that haven’t made it to paper yet. To be honest I had lost a bit of motivation when it came to writing but your words and interest may have revived me…so stay tuned!

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