The Wonderland Trail: East Vs. West

Before leaving the outfitter, I poked through a Wonderland Trail guidebook. It said the average person takes 8-13 days to hike the 93-mile trail, so I figured it shouldn't be that hard to do it in six. kse3dka ssoie 3z23... Oh, sorry about that, I patted myself on the back so hard I fell into my keyboard.

“You’re out here for six days?” a fellow backpacker asked at a campsite. “So you’re not doing the whole thing then.” 

“Yeah, I am.” I said. It made me feel good, because six was an easy pace for me now. And the truth is, I know I could do it in four if I really wanted to. In fact, some of the guys I met on the AT (Red, Right-Click, Footwork, and Lightfoot, to name a few) could probably do it in three days on a bet, or if getting past the Smoky Mountains before winter was there for motivation.

“I hiked the Appalachian Trail last year, so I’ve gotten used to a lot of miles,” I said. 

“But this trail is a lot steeper than out east, I bet,”  

“No, it’s about the same,” I said. In fact, the profile for the Wonderland Trail reminded me of the Appalachian Trail the moment I saw it. Both look like an electrocardiogram taken right before the patient's heart exploded. Every two to four thousand-foot ascent is followed by an equal descent, and vice versa. 

“The views out east aren’t as grand as the west, though, right?"

“Uhh, well it's all relative," I said. "Some of my most blissful moments on the trail have been in pretty ordinary forests without much of a view at all.” 

“But the west is prettier?”

Alright, so I was evading the question. Strangely, I felt uncomfortable with it. 

“Sorry I'm not answering your question, I feel like you’re trying to get me to admit that some supermodel is prettier than my girlfriend,” I laughed. “I guess objectively, yes, the west is prettier and grander, but the AT and I have a history. I love it.”

On two other occasions, after I brought up the AT with another hiker, I was asked a similar question. I’ve noticed that people in the Pacific Northwest know they live in the most beautiful place in America and love to rub it in our faces. It's a good thing, though. Pride in your land leads to careful stewardship. And how horrible it would be if a place with so much beauty wasn't well preserved.

As a drifter, I'm able to enjoy their lovely home while the weather is perfect and skip town before the snow comes. Hmm, even though every westerner I've met has been great, maybe I'll rub that in their faces. Lovingly of course.
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