Chapter 10~ Food Caches, Wildlife and Seven Lakes

The following is a prelude to Episode 5 Video. You can watch by clicking here or read the following and click the episode at the bottom.

Episode 5 synopsis: In episode 5 we say good-bye to the gang and Lisa and Shannon head to Palisades and Seven Lakes. We encounter a bear just off trail enjoying an afternoon snack and rivers of lupine. Runtime 8:18

Day 6

Food Foraging and Caches

As we hike up from Forest Lake, we stop for lunch and Sunrise and say our good-byes to Wendy and Bob. Shannon and me are the only two of our original party left. My planned caches seem to be holding their ground with keeping me feeling satisfied and full of energy.

For this 14 day trip I made 3 bear proof bags of food. I am not much of a trail snacker but I do love berries and will forage as many berries as I can during trips. Currently, I am reading a really great book on foraging titled, Pacific Northwest Foraging by Douglas Deur. His book is organized by seasons so it is super handy and quick to use as a reference.

Where to Cache

There are four Wilderness Backcountry drive-up cache stations on the Wonderland Trail. Mowich Lake, Sunrise and at White River (within 10 miles of each other), and Longmire. We used all but Longmire because that is where are trip ended and the car was parked so I guess we did use it and cached the car. As mentioned earlier, Tami Asar’s book Hiking the Wonderland Trail is a good book to use to make your cache plan.

Packing for Caches and Trash

Many people do what I do and purchase the dehydrated meals in a bag. For me they are big enough for two days, so I dump the contents on a cutting board and divide them in half, then place them in baggies along with the cooking bag. I like the cutting board because many of the pre-packaged meals come with other spices and condiments packed separately that make it difficult to do so on the trail. You can reuse the cooking bag by placing the baggie and contents into it and dumping your heated water directly into the baggie. It cuts down on garbage that you have to haul around too. This is something you have to experiment with and should because you cannot dump food you do not eat just anywhere. In general I do not snack or eat as much on the trail. This bag looks too full of snacks below for me and if I find I have something left I make a mental note and do not pack that again. I am 5’1″ 138 lbs, so I pack 1500 calories per day. I have also since this trip started dehydrating more and plan to dehydrate apples instead of purchasing the expensive Crispy Fruit, the reason is I’m trying to cut down on trash next time. Protein bars, peanut butter, tuna in the package, nuts, and fruit weigh a lot unless they are freeze dried so try to go that route, you’ll be a lot happier with less weight.

2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners + Snacks
Wendy, Bob and Lisa at Sunrise Picnic Area

Sunrise to Seven Lakes

Just east of the Sourdough Ridge is a trail we’ve both have never explored. Known as the Seven Lakes area, many tourists simply stop at the trailhead at Sunrise Point for a grand view of the Cascade Range where a section of the Pacific Crest Trail heads South to North passing through. To the west is that giant volcano, Mt. Rainier. The valley sweeps below and the colors of Governor’s Ridge and Tamanos Mountain seem a distant layer of ombre blues and green. Sunrise Point is an easy stop here for cars and a popular photo op and place to stretch your legs on the way to Sunrise.

Since it is afternoon and our plan is to make camp at Sunrise, and have dinner before dark, we set out quickly to Sunrise Lake, Clover Lake, Hidden Lake, Tom, Dick and Harry Lakes, Dick’s Lake Camp and finally Upper Palisades Lake and Palisades Lake Camp.

This is an area I would like to day hike more. Easily accessible from Enumclaw, there are forest service roads that are a sneaky backdoor to the park. An old patrol cabin still stands and signs divide forest service and national park boundaries.

Of course the division is easy, the national park takes the scenery of the lakes and if the lakes were not heavenly enough, Shannon and I hiked through the most unbelievable river of lupine we have every seen that ran along both sides of the trail for at least a 1/2 miles. A river of lavender blue, waving in the breezes.

Following the ridge down we notice a bear butt off parallel to our trail about 100 yards just munching and minding its business in the meadows. We assume this same bear was walking in the same direction we were, down hill is easy and it knows we’re there, they smell better than they see. We both assume one bear, not many, because well it looked like the same bear, as we walked, it walked. Some of the them are fat, some are on the skinny side, some are cinnamon colored, some more brown and then some black. This one was black with longer scraggly hair on the young adult side of size and alone. It’s hair wasn’t the typical thick piles that come off in the summer heat as they shed their winter coats.

We continue to follow in the same direction, check out Dick’s Lake Camp, then travel to Upper Palisades Camp. We bump into a solo woman who’s comment I remember so well. We say our casual greetings with bandanas and masks up, I notice she has a full backpack. Her comment was wonderful.

Lisa, “Good afternoon, wanted to let you know we had a bear follow us down the hill, are you spending the night?”

Backpacker Woman’s comment, “If I have to go this far, I’m going to spend the night.”

Lisa and Shannon, “Have a wonderful hike and evening.”

All’s well that ends well, we hope.

On the way back, Lisa is chattering about this and that with Shannon, then mid-sentence says, “There is a bear right there to our right and I’m just going to keep moving.” I hadn’t noticed it until I was directly next to it on my right.

We keep walking and talking at the same pace, not a good idea to stop so close and I glance over and make eye contact 20 feet away.

Bears at Rainier always seem a bit lazy to me and we weren’t there to take his food but maybe he/she was following ours. Bears really must not see well, though so I was glad we were talking and walking, as he wasn’t startled in the least bit munching away on the meadow and grazing the tops of edible huckleberry plants off.

Shannon was kind of amazed in the calm manner I said there was a bear right next us.

I actually think she must be rubbing off on me.

Back to Sunrise and Sunrise Backcountry Camp

Again another bear, this one a beautiful cinnamon colored full sized adult just below Sunrise Camp in the meadow. We make it just in time to get our tents up, discuss over dinner as the wind blows things around a bit, about getting up at 4:30 am to hike to Mt. Fremont Lookout to catch a sunrise. Shannon just grabs her camera and takes pictures. I’m like NO WAY!

Stowing our food, we settle in for the night, promising to make sure and wake each other up if we sleep too long.

And hopefully our camp isn’t ransacked. Thank goodness for bear boxes and an outhouse that actually didn’t smell too bad. Sunrise Camp gets a thumbs up! Almost like home.

Episode 5 Video. You can watch by clicking here.