Aug 12, 2009

Steven's Bucket List: Run the Wonderland Trail

This is part of a series of posts where I discuss items on my "bucket list." the introduction to the series is here.

93 miles, 22,000 feet of gain. circumnavigates mount rainier in washington.

I suppose it's only fair that I start with the item that inspired this series of posts. It's also only fair to give proper credit to krissy meohl and ellen parker, who ran it last week in 2½ days. Upon reading about it on Krissy's and Matt Hart's blogs, the idea of running this emerged from the recesses of my memory.

I first heard about the wonderland trail back in 2003 or 2004, reading backpacker magazine's list of best hiking trails in the USA. I was immediately interested, but this was before I was into ultrarunning. I weighed at least 350lbs at the time. I found myself discouraged by the 10-14 days it typically takes (fit) people to complete the thing, because that is a lot of time away from home & family for a hike.

It has stayed in my mind, however, even as I started getting into trail running and developing the ability to travel long distances. The idea of mixing trail running and the wonderland trail for a 2-3 day completion had occurred to me, but I never heard of any ultrarunners actually doing it until reading on matt's blog about krissy's and ellen's completion.

I don't know why more ultrarunners don't do it. But if you'd like to know why I'm so interested in it, all you have to do is a google image search for wonderland trail. Here's a sample:


  1. Steven: I just got home last night from completing my 11th trip (backpacking, not running) around the Wonderland Trail. While I was there, I met a guy running the trail in 44 hours. He said it was a training run for a upcoming 22-hour attempt.

    I can imagine the idea of running it would be pretty intriguing, but it is really such an amazing trail, I would suggest you spend a week and backpack it first (which most folks would still consider fast).

  2. This isn't a bucket LIST it's a bucket item :P

    Still, cool idea, Steve!

  3. Andy - perhaps. But I get so much more enjoyment from running than I do from hiking that I almost can't do it anymore. When I go on a hike, the desire to break out into a run because pretty intense after a couple of hours. (:

    Ceej- this is a series of posts. Read the previous post for context.

  4. I did the wonderland a few weeks ago in 3 days as a hike/little run. You might be interested in the writeup I did for NWhikers forum. I have an ultrarunning background and have done the trail before in 36 hours. Here's the link:

  5. I came across your site this morning, very cool.

    We are building a new brand up here in Portland around the idea of a Bucket List and the gear that goes along the adventures. If you have some free time, would like to invite you to share some of your stories with our community. You have done some cool things and they would make a nice addition.



  6. Hey Steven,
    The Wonderland is on my bucket list as well. Our family (Me, Dad, 6 year old) is going this summer. I think the reason that more ultrarunners don't do the Wonderland is the amount of prep and a very short time window. You have less than 2 month time window and to run it without snow and without bugs that window goes down to less than 3 weeks. Also, you have to get your permits in between March 15 and April 1 or you are almost out of luck. For many, that level of prep for only a couple days puts it into the category of annoying with so many other places where you can go.

    It would still be worth it, but for some might be considered a hassle.

    I'm digging your blog by the way.

  7. Hi Granola Girl,

    Thanks for reading the blog. I'm glad you like it. (:

    Interestingly, the two-month time window also applies to Grand Canyon R2R2R, yet there is no shortage of ultrarunners who I hear about doing that every year. But there are no permit issues there, either. The web site seemed to imply that the permits are for camping.. Do you also need a permit just to be on the trail? To do it all at once would require a crew of some sort and I imagine the logistics for something like that would be intimidating.. but it would definitely be a worthy thing to attempt!