I won the Wonderland Trail lottery


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Sep 3, 2003
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Gorham NH
I tried last year and got skunked but got my notice today that I have a slot in the Ranier early access reservation system. Its a new system as of last year. Winners get live access to the reservation system to plan a trip with immediate feedback is site is booked, still no guarantees but better than flying out and hoping I get a slot.

It might be solo hike at this point but things could change. Given I did a PCT section just north of there last year, I am guessing that I have got a good idea what the terrain may be like. I will probably send at least one cache in advance to one of the two ranger stations that accept them.

I think several folks have done this trail in the past. Any camp sites I should shoot for, or avoid? Plus if anyone has a recommend alternative to getting to and from SeaTac airport compared to renting a car and parking it, I am all ears.
That was painless. I logged in a few hours early and the sites were wide open and picked my first choices. I waited until my assigned time and clicked on order and filled out a form with some credit card info and other info and got a confirmation. So not I get a few months to figure out the details.
A follow up is I went on the early reservation site this AM and the majority of the sites are still open for early reservations. The early reservation time period is a couple of weeks for lottery winners. The national park service states quite clearly that even those winning the lottery may not be able to get a desired trip in a desired time window let alone their first choices. I guess I was lucky and was at the beginning of the process or there has been drastic reduction in interest. Many reports indicate that by the time the open reservation period start that stringing together an entire route around the mountain is extremely rare. As others have pointed out in the past, the typical person is most successful by just winging it and waiting in line at the park headquarters stations to get reservations from someone that had prior reservations but was a no show. Even though the odds are good they will get something, its quite a commitment to someone like me flying in from the east coast. Most folks send a food cache in advance so a last minute hiker either has a food cache ready and hand delivers the cache to one of the cache stations or hauls the 7 to 8 days of food for the entire trip.

I and a friend tried the lottery last year and did not win a slot. I had proposed doing a walk up to the group with a backup plan to do the PCT. They were not interested in taking the chance and we stuck with the PCT and quick trip to the Olympics ,and still had a great time. We had scheduled the trip in September so there were many nearby alternatives in the region but logistics are also challenging for a backpack that starts and ends at different locations. The section of the PCT we did had a shuttle service to one crossing and a public bus route from the other so we didnt even have to rent a car from Seattle. No such luck this year.
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lucky ! we've been trying for JMT, Wonderland, Enchantments, Wave, etc the past few years and haven't had any luck with the lotteries yet ...

hoping to get out west for a fun trip while i'm taking a sabbatical from w*rk this year ...

might visit a few state high points early fall if nothing else lines up ... maybe TX, NM, AZ ?
might visit a few state high points early fall if nothing else lines up ... maybe TX, NM, AZ ?
My wife and I visited four national parks in Feb 2020 - White Sands, Carlsbad, Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend.
Nice trip.
Guadalupe Peak has much in common with Mount Lafayette - great views, large crowds (two hours or so from big cities), several pack-less hikers in sneakers or sandals starting late in the day. But plenty of opportunity for a longer trek of ridge-running (or ridge-strolling). Very pleasant experience in an entirely different ecosystem, compared to home in NH. Recommended.
I found very little in common between Guadalupe Peak and Lafayette except maybe it's prominence.

Erik and I hiked it 15 years ago in late February, a good time of year before the summer heat hits the SW. We camped at Pine Springs Campground, which like the trail, we had all to ourselves. It was so windy we requested any campsite at which we could provide additional tie downs to the sparse vegetation. I thought the wind coming through the nearby canyon were fighter jets from nearby air bases as we felt an occasional backwash shaking the tent!

The wind sustained the next day into our hike. Limestone? Sandstone? The trails were as hard as concrete so I'd advise thick socks. What impressed me was the trail was designed for horses as well as hikers and with the steep edges I marveled at the trust that must exist between man and beast. There were a few particularly treacherous spots with signs instructing riders to dismount and lead horses. About a quarter of a mile from a windy scramble to the summit there was a coral to tie down horses for the remaining climb ... whether that was to keep the horses from straying away or getting blown away is left to our speculation.

Three particularly impressive views captured our attention; El Capitan to the west, beyond the foothills the wide open ranges of West Texas and it's sprawling ranches, and caves in cliffs high above the trail. I later inquired of the ranger whether these caves had ever been subject to archaeological research; they had and revealed the presence of aboriginal peoples over 1000 years ago. We wondered what could possibly bring human beings to such an inaccessible place in such a remote location in such a sparse territory: survival.