Wonderland Trail: Our Gear
We were generally quite well equipped, particularly Doug. Neither of us
really had to buy any new equipment for the trip as we were both experienced
hikers and already owned the necessary equipment.
The image below shows most of Doug's initial gear laid out for the trip.
We each carried all our own personal equipment and split the shared equipment
although Doug ended up with more of it (perhaps a 60-40 or 55-45 split). Doug
also carried more food, clothing, and backup/emergency type of extra stuff;
between these factors, his pack ended up being far heavier (around 45-55 lbs)
(of course the pack
itself was heavier as was his sleeping bag but the pack was also designed to
hold more so this offset the added weight a bit). Aaron was careful to only
carry slightly more than he really thought he would need and judged it pretty
well (Aaron's pack weighed around 30-40 lbs).
In terms of food, we planned the trip as an 11 day trip and figured we would
always carry a spare dinner. We cached food via mail at two locations:
Mowich Lake and Sunrise ranger stations (projected as days five
and eight). Each location had two boxes which proved to be better than one box
at each (see day four). We ended up cutting a day
off the trip early so we hit each cache a day early.
As a result of all of the extra food Doug was carrying, we
managed fine even when we discovered that one of the two boxes at the first
cache had been stolen by the time we arrived there: quality went down but
quantity was not a problem. At the second cache, Doug ended up dumping a huge
amount of extra lesser quality food for the ranger and other hikers to use.
Packs: Dana Design ArcLight Glacier Internal Frame (Doug) with side
pockets (around 7000 cu. inches capacity total) and old Kelty External Frame
(Aaron) - Aaron thought about buying a new internal frame pack but ended up
settling for staying with his tried and true Kelty and it worked very well for
him. Despite externals being perfect for the Wonderland Trail, internals
outnumbered them by a large factor (popularity over practicality?).
Tents: We each had a North Face Tadpole (1.5 person tent) - we thought
long and hard about renting a bigger tent to share and save a few ounces but
ended up deciding the comfort was worth carrying two tents - we never
regretted this decision.
Sleeping Bags: Synthetic plus ThermaRest inflatable pad (Doug) and
Down plus RidgeRest pad (Aaron). Synthetics stay warm even when wet so
while they are heavier it may be worth it, particularly in as wet an area
Boots/shoes: Leather hiking boots (Doug) and standard New Balance
sneakers (Aaron) - Aaron has always hiked in sneakers and stuck with them;
however, although they did fine for the first half of the trip, his ankles were
in pain for the rest of the trip and he somewhat regretted this decision for
this long a trip. Despite Doug's waterproofed all-leather boots, water still
crept in through unsealable cracks. Synthetic liner and outer socks made wet
Clothing: GoreTex jackets (Aaron's leaked), pack covers (Doug's leaked),
Fleeces, jeans (Aaron), polypro shirts, shorts, rain pants, gloves, hats,
Stove and Cooking Gear: MSR Whisperlite stove (Carried by Doug with both
of us carrying fuel bottles - we ended up with way too much fuel.) We had one
pot with a frying pan lid and a small 8 oz cup (Doug) and Sierra Cup (Aaron) -
minimal but as much as needed. Pre-trip testing indicated that 22 ounces of
fuel would be enough for two people for eleven days. This proved to be correct
for our particular stove, elevation, etc. Stove use was limited to two
efficient starts per day, boiling at most 32oz. in the morning and 32 oz in
the evening with no real cooking... not to mention simmering! We took a total
of 44 ounces of fuel for emergencies: possibilities ranging from a longer trip,
to unexpected cold weather, to water purification purposes.
Water Filter and Bottles: MSR WaterWorks (carried by Aaron) - this
caused us big problems, unexpectedly. Doug carried 2 large Nalgene water
bottles and Aaron 1 large and 1 small. Aaron also brought along a very useful
and super-light 2 gallon water sack. The field maintainability of the MSR
filter proved critical. The second filter clogged and we were able
to remove it and use just one (and clean it too). The glacier driven rivers
are filled with ground up rock powder and clog fiters quickly. Coffee filters
attached to the intake hose were used a few times as a pre-filter.
Food: Freeze-dried Mountain House dinners, freeze-dried granola
breakfasts (Doug), homemade freeze-dried apples and beef jerky, lots of
SwissMiss hot cocoa mix, Crystal Light Lemonade packets, 'chewie' bars, GORP
(Doug), chocolate bars, Health Valley fruit rollups (Aaron), etc...
Map and Guide Book: Guide book: "Discovering the Wonders of the
Wonderland Trail, Encircling Mount Rainier" by Bette Filley. This book is a
good source but don't trust every elevation gain/loss figure as exact. Maps:
Trails Illustrated's "Mount Rainier National Park", map #217 and the standard
park map from the rangers.
Bug Repellent: We were initially very worried about the bugs and almost
changed plans on where to go after reading one awful report. Aaron was
particularly worried about really bad bugs. As it turned out, the bugs were
only moderately bad and we had Citronella repellent, super-strong OFF (never
used) and head netting (Aaron).
Poles: Pair of Leki adjustable ski poles (Doug) and single Leki
Explorer hiking pole (Aaron) - the poles were wonderful, Aaron continually
adjusted his pole for length with every variation in slope.
Camera: 35mm (Carried by Doug with three rolls of 36 exposure print
Miscellaneous: '10 Essentials' type stuff: Swiss Army knives,
flashlights, TP, bandanas (Aaron had Many of these), matches, lighters, rope,
plastic bags, stuff sack, medical kits (we each had one), repair stuff,
toothbrush & paste, soap, compass, sunglasses, journal (Doug), candle lantern,
Afterthoughts on gear: Check gear for waterproofness. Test vital
things in advance. Individually bag everything to avoid it getting wet.
Gear that unexpectedly caused us problems:
Pack cover (Doug) - leaked, pack lid (Doug) - leaked, Goretex rain jacket
(Aaron) - leaked, leather waterproof boots (Doug) - leaked, water filter -
had numerous problems with clogging, pack belt buckle (Aaron) - kept coming
undone on its own, our clothing and tents took too long to dry.
We were equipped as modern hikers, willing to spend money to save ounces but
only carrying the essentials with almost no luxuries (the camera and journal
were probably the only unnecessary items we carried). Other people we met were
carrying much heavier low-tech, low-cost equipment (Father and Son team and
some of Nathan's gear) or lots of luxuries (group of four). We went for
efficiency and never regretted this.