Wonderland Trail – Mowich Lake To Fryingpan Creek

The Mountain from near Moraine Park

A whole year had passed since I hiked the first section of the Wonderland Trail from Longmire to Mowich lake. I arbitrarily designated certain sections as first, second or third sections, but there is no order in which section to start the trail, or to even do it in sections. It was just easier for me to do the trail this way due to my work schedule. Hike your own hike they say. This year I set out to complete the second section of the trail. I started from where I left off at Mowich Lake and hiked to the Fryingpan Creek trailhead with an overnight at Mystic Camp. Paul, one of my hiking companions from last year, could not make it so it was just Cheryl and I.

Permits were obtained earlier in the year but I was not able to get permits for the final section. I'll have to get walk in permits later in the summer or wait another year for the remainder of the trail. The permits I had were for Thursday through Saturday, staying Thursday night at Mystic Camp and Friday night at the Sunrise walk in camp. We got a very early start on Thursday and drove both our vehicles to Longmire and picked up our permits. We then drove to the Fryingpan Creek trailhead and dropped off one vehicle before driving the remaining distance to Mowich Lake. All this driving made for a very long morning and we didn't start hiking until around 12:45 in the afternoon. If I were to do this section again, I would try to set up the shuttle the night before like we did last year. At the very least, I'd drive in via hwy 410 and pick up the permit from White River instead of driving all the way around from Longmire. Mowich lake is a difficult trailhead to shuttle to and from due to the driving distance involved.

The day was almost totally socked in and we only got a few views of the Mountain all day. Since we got such a late start getting to the trail, we didn't get to Mystic camp until about 7:00pm. It was still a great trip, but felt rushed due to our lateness. Some views would have been nice but at least it didn't rain on us.

On the second day we were to hike to the Sunrise walk in camp and stay the night there but we figured we would just hike on out since the remainder of the trip was all downhill anyways. Again we were blessed with no rain but the Mountain was obscurred by clouds almost the whole day.

All in all, for this trip, the weather was not the best for viewing the Mountain, but the cool weather was nice for hiking in. A common thread from this trip was every single person we met on the trail that asked about our campsites seemed to think hiking to Mystic Camp from Mowich Lake was some extraordinary accomplishment. I don't know, it was only like 14 miles or so. Not sure what the big deal was. There was a lot of elevation gain though so maybe that's what everyone was so excited about. If I was to do it again, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Day One

The start of our hike at Mowich lake
Flowers out but no bugs yet.
The limited views at Mowich Lake.
Avalanche lilies
Too socked in for many pictures with views so a lot of sign pictures were taken.
Into the void. This was our view from Ipsut Pass.
This is the the view my son and I had from the same spot a few weeks prior.
Ipsut Creek
A new bridge over a side stream near Ipsut Creek.
You are greeted with this sign at the bottom of the hike down from Ipsut Pass.
Carbon River
This tributary of the Carbon River had a lot of algae and moss in it.
We saw this huge salamander feasting on a slug. It was really kind of gross. I believe it was a Coastal Giant Salamander. The quarter is for size reference.
The trail was washed out near the carbon River suspension bridge requiring an alternate trail on the other side of the river.
Due to the trail being washed out and rerouted, we didn't have to cross the suspension bridge. I did cross it however on a dayhike I did the previous year.
The trail above the Carbon River heading up to Moraine Park.
Waterfall along the trail flowing into Moraine Creek
Moraine Creek
Just below Moraine Park.
I thought this grass was interesting. Still not sure what it is.
Wildflowers along the trail near Moraine Park
Seconds before I snapped this shot, a Pika was sitting on the rock in the center of the image. You can see it's den under the rock. During the day in summer, Pikas gather bits of vegetation or "hay piles" and lay it out to dry. Here you can see the hay pile has been brought in. They rely on these hay piles for food during the winter. I think Pikas are interesting little critters. You can read up on them on this Wikipedia page.
Marmot at Moraine Park
Chipmunk at Moraine Park
The Mountain was trying to come out
Moraine Park Meadows
At the pass between Moraine Park and Mystic Lake, the Mountain decided to reveal herself for the first time all day.
Mystic Lake
Wildflowers everywhere
Our humble little camp for the night

Day Two

The Wonderland trail has great signage. Nice to know how far you have to go. This is at the start of day two. From here it is 13 or 14 miles to our car at Fryingpan Creek.
Winthrop Creek
Totally socked in.
Granite Creek
Granite Creek Camp
Deer at Granite Creek
Deer at Granite Creek camp.
The Mountain was trying to come out. This was from Skyscraper Pass
Just east of Skyscraper Pass
This was near Sunrise walk in camp. It is a bear trap. The signs all said "do not approach".
This was funny because Cheryl was holding out for water until we got to Sunrise camp. Turns out you can still filter water from Shadow lake which is nearby but she was a little dismayed when we first saw this.
Shadow Lake near Sunrise
About 5 miles to Fryingpan Creek trailhead from here
Peekaboo view of White River
Just above the White River campground.
Lovely green vegetation - Vanilla Leaf
Look but don't touch. Great backlight on this Devils Club.
Lovely green vegetation. You could tell we were close to the bottom of the White river valley when the vegetation started getting denser.
Lovely green vegetation
Almost to the car at this point. I didn't take any pictures at White river campground.
It was a good trip, but I can't help but wonder if I might not repeat this section with better weather conditions. To be continued...

Go back to Wonderland Trail – Longmire to Mowich Lake
Proceed to Wonderland Trail – Fryingpan Creek to Box Canyon


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