August 27 , 2011
We had big goals for hiking this year. I met some new goals last summer and got a perfect book full of day hikes in Washington to get us started. I had 20 picked out for this year. On Saturday the 27th, we did hike #4 from the book. Oopsie!
Saturday, August 27, 2011:
After staying up a little too late on Friday night, we had a rough start to our drive in the morning. We made it almost all the way off the island when I realized I didn't bring the book with the trail map or the directions on how to get there. We turned around and went back to the house to get them along with some tupperware to pick huckleberries. By the time we got off the island we were about 40 minutes behind "schedule".
We kept getting stuck behind accidents too. We saw two rollover accidents on our way down there. We arrived at them both shortly after they happened too. It was a bit unnerving.
We made a stop so Dan could do some shopping, but otherwise we powered through the drive. For some reason we both knew that we were headed down to Mt. Adams, but we both thought it should have been a lot closer to our house for some reason.
The last few miles before we got to our turnoff in Randall, WA started to look really interesting. The mountains were growing and lava flow evidence was everywhere. We turned onto the Forest Service Road to head out and were happy to see that 27 of the 30 miles we had to drive on was paved! That's nice as we often drive 20+ miles on dirt roads to get to some of our favorite places. :)
We got to Tahklakh Lake in the shadow of Mt. Adams around 1pm. The day use parking lot was full, so we made our own parking space along the road. Then we quickly packed up our packs with lunch and hit the trail. We walked about halfway around the lake to a place called "Fish Pad" where we found a nice spot to have a picnic.
The mosquitoes and biting flies were out in FORCE and our bug spray didn't seem to be helping much. We ended up having a quick sandwich wrap while twitching off the flies. If you stood right next to the lake when a breeze came up, you got a little relief. After lunch, we packed up and headed back to the trail.
We came to a spot that said we could go on the loop trail either to the left or the right. We went left. After a bit of walking, it looked like we were turning to the north again, along the other side of the lake. That was not right as we should have seen a fork somewhere to head up the hill to the lava flow areas. Hmmm...
We turned around and headed back the way we came, but never saw another trail go anywhere but down to where we had lunch. Hmmm. After a bit of discussion, Dan asked where the trail map was. I told him it must be in the car. Oopsie! :) So back to the car.
On the trail again, we found we just hadn't walked far enough. We headed back out, around the lake, and there was the trail just a few hundred yards beyond where we turned around the first time. Oopsie!
This is the section of the trail that climbs and climbs up through tons of huckleberry bushes. Someone forgot to tell the berries that it's the fourth week of August and that's berry time. There were a few unripe berries, but so many that hadn't even gotten started yet. :( Stupid cold, wet spring. Oopsie! (Are you noticing a trend here?)
The climb wasn't awful, but it was quite a hike for me. The bad part is that I couldn't stop for even a second without a swarm of bugs landing and eating me alive so we had to keep moving. Even with Dan encouraging me on as I whined and moaned, I wasn't sure I was going to make it to the top. At last we made it to the top of the hill. PHEW!!
From there we dropped down a little bit to a dirt road. Across the road was Takhlakh Meadow. It was lovely, but it would have been a lot nicer, and we'd have fewer bites if we'd just driven up there. HA! We headed down into the meadow and found a trail going to the left or right. We went right along the side of the meadow for some distance, but the trail seemed to be fading out and going in the wrong direction. We turned around and went back to that fork and went to the left this time. That took us into a big pile of lava that was only 3500 years old. It was beautiful, but again, there wasn't much time for looking around as we had to keep moving to keep the bugs off. At one point, we found an interesting sign we both wanted to read. Dan took a picture of it so we could read it at home and flee the bugs. HA! Really, he did.
There were a number of little wispy trails leading all over, but none of them looked like the main trail. In hindsight, I think our trail was supposed to take us around the other side of those rocks, but I never could figure out where the trail went. They need better signs. Or I need to bring a better map.
After walking along the ridge of lava, we crossed the dirt road again and headed down through the woods. Eventually we saw signs of the lake through the trees. We headed down the other side of the lake, saying hello to the fishermen we passed and stopping briefly to take a couple pictures of the glorious vista.
Back at the car, which I was glad to see was still in our impromptu parking space, we got organized, changed shoes and hit the road. I was glad to leave those bugs behind.
On the way up the FS road, we had seen a sign for Layser Cave. We had to stop and see what that was, even though it was getting late.
We were both changed into sandals, but the trail head sign said it was just 1000 or so yards down the trail. They meant DOWN the trail. We must have dropped 250 feet in that 1000 yards. The whole way down all I could think is "This better be good because the climb out is going to be rough!" Luckily, it was cool.
Our pictures don't do it justice. But at the bottom there was a beautiful vista, a cool looking Madrone tree and Layser Cave.
The cave had been used for years by the local indians. They stored food there and did a lot of drying of meats and tanning of skins. The cave was creepy. Dan was as little reluctant to climb in, but I like creepy. :) I was freaking Dan out by asking questions like the ghost hunter shows I watch on TV. "Is there anyone here that would like to speak to us? If you want to let us know you are here, feel free to touch Dan." His face when I said that was precious. But alas, nothing responded or touched Dan, probably to his relief.
We walked back to the vista point to enjoy the bug-free view for a while.
Instead of heading back to I-5 to go home, we cut north on Highway 7 to a town outside of the western entrance to Mt. Rainier. We had seen the big three all day today! Mt St Helens, Mt Adams and Mt Rainier. Beautiful. At the junction there is a small town of Elbe where we have stopped for dinner before. There is a little hamburger stand that has great burgers and even better milkshakes. We had some dinner and debated the idea of driving up to Paradise in Mt. Rainier to watch the sunset. We decided it was already too late in the evening (after 7:30), but we should do it next time we're up there on a clear day. That's usually the famous last words for these kind of ideas. There are going to be very few "nice clear" days this year. But we'll see.
It was a long drive home, but it wasn't too bad. The traffic seemed to move better on the way home than on the way back. We got home a little before 10pm and unpacked the car, poured a glass of wine and watched a little comedy off the Tivo before bed.
Nice day! But I did learn one big lesson:
4 year old bug spray will not save you from those ravenous Cascade Range biting insects.
I will need to remember that for our trip to Joseph, OR in a couple weeks! :)
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