Cultus Lake

This is the second time Alex and I have been to Indian Heaven Wilderness near Mt Adams (in Washington). The first time, it was a hike to Lake Wapiki, and we were supposed to continue on to Lemei Rock. But we didn’t make it because it was cold, and we hadn’t brought enough snacks!

The first time we went to Indian Heaven Wilderness. It was really scary at the top! Imagine all the monsters hiding in the fog.

The first time we went to Indian Heaven Wilderness. It was really scary at the top! Imagine all the monsters hiding in the fog.

This time, it was a hike to Cultus Lake, and onward to Lemei Rock, overlooking Lake Wapiki. However, again, we weren’t able to make it to Lemei Rock. It was far too snowy! Perhaps if we had the right gear to hike over snow it would have been enjoyable, but with just tennis shoes and a two and a half hour drive home, we were opting to turn around once the snow was pretty solid.

Snow completely covering path on the way to Lemei Rock.

Snow completely covering path on the way to Lemei Rock.

Despite not making it to the Lake Wapiki overlook, we had a great time. I would highly suggest this trail. The forested portions at the beginning and middle make the hike worth it. On top of the high canopy evergreen forests with varied thrush singing the whole time, there is a phenomenal viewpoint of Mount Adams, with Mt Rainier as a fainter phantom in the distance. The treat that made this trail the highlight of our hikes this year thusfar was the ALPINE LAKE DUCKS we saw. Alex and I love ducks, and how could a person not? I mean, they make quacks as their noise, they are peaceful and buoyant, and their feet are like paddles. Well, these particular ducks were floating (and diving) in the calm and beautiful Cultus Lake. More details on the duck siting below. Needless to say, this was obviously the highlight of the hike.

Two warnings: (1.) There were mosquitos on this trail at this time of year. We used bug spray, and that seemed to help. But! Five days later, I have plentiful evidence of being mosquito-attacked all over. (2.) The drive from Portland felt lengthy. It was approaching a three hour drive (if you drive slightly under the speed limit). The drive was actually really pretty, and VERY low traffic. The last 11 miles or so are gravel (with a short stretch of pavement in between), but it is good gravel, despite what William Sullivan states in 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington (perhaps he experienced a bad year for the road; this year it was well-maintained — not many potholes or large pointy stones at all).

Now on to the description of the trail, mostly through pictures!

Image

Indian Heaven Trail No. 33 sign at the trailhead.

A sign indicating the wilderness designation.

A sign indicating the wilderness designation.

Now that we've entered the wilderness, say hello to this toad.

Now that we’ve entered the wilderness, say hello to this toad.

I have yet to identify the tree that produces this cone. It was unusual-looking to me. Please, if you know what it is, let me know!!

I have yet to identify the tree that produces this cone. It was unusual-looking to me. Please, if you know what it is, let me know!!

The gorgeous forest.

The gorgeous forest.

The sunny day really lit up the trees.

The sunny day really lit up the trees.

After what felt like quite a climb, there’s a reward: this vivacious stream, and even a waterfall (I didn’t capture it well, so you’ll have to go to see it for yourself!).

A delightful stream along the way.

A delightful stream along the way.

And, of course, I had to photograph any wildflower I saw.

Fawn lily

Fawn lily

One of my favorite wildflowers: simple, yet elegant.

One of my favorite wildflowers: simple, yet elegant.

Here’s where we stepped out of the forest for a minute to approach our viewpoint. You could still hear the varied thrush calling from here.

Emerging from the forest, approaching the excellent Mt Adams viewpoint. Note the seventh dimension bear grass.

Emerging from the forest, approaching the excellent Mt Adams viewpoint. Note the seventh dimension bear grass.

Phlox! If you look at the previous picture, and imagine being the photographer, turn around, and there's the phlox.

Phlox! If you look at the previous picture, and imagine being the photographer, turn around, and there’s the phlox.

I had never seen this flower. I wonder what it is!

I had never seen this flower. I wonder what it is!

Alex, Carlton, and the viewpoint.

Alex, Carlton, and the viewpoint.

There was actually quite a bit of snow left on the trail. We hiked this 7 July 2013. There was one scary snow crossing: there was a sizable stream racing along beneath a snow bridge. It seemed very solid when we crossed, but I would be very cautious!

This was the beginning of the snow crossings. We left a bottle of water here to chill.

This was the beginning of the snow crossings. We left a bottle of water here to chill.

Shortly after storing our drink, we reached Cultus Lake.

The trail to Deep Lake. If the ducks are near where Deep Lake joins Cultus Lake, take this trail to get a closer look!

The trail to Deep Lake. If the ducks are near where Deep Lake joins Cultus Lake, take this trail to get a closer look!

Cultus Lake: serene.

Cultus Lake: serene.

Another simple, yet elegant wildflower.

Another simple, yet elegant wildflower.

Beginning of the Lemei Trail.

Beginning of the Lemei Trail.

We reached a meadow along Lemei Trail. It looked freshly thawed, and had calm, meandering streams snaking through it. Immediately, I was reminded of Wump World, a book I read (and loved) when I was a child (well, I still do love it). The wumps would have loved to float down the streams, and eat the long green grasses.

Wump Stream

Wump Stream

Oh, how the Wumps would love this stream.

Oh, how the Wumps would love this stream.

After tromping through the meadow and on top of some more awfully cold and wet snow, we decided we’d had a delightful hike and were ready to turn around. Lemei Rock, we’ll get to you one day!

Here are the ducks we saw. I got the closest picture of them on the return. I do not have zoom on the only lens I own for my Nikon D5100, and we had the classic “Get out the binoculars, there’s a duck!”, –“You have the binoculars!”, “But I thought you had them!”, –“Damnit we forgot the binoculars and now we can’t look at or identify these special ducks!!!” moment. The best we could come up with was that these ducks were either Common or Barrow’s Goldeneye.  Please comment if you think you know!

This was the best picture I got of the ducks. And we forgot the binoculars. Curses!

This was the best picture I got of the ducks. And we forgot the binoculars. Curses!

As the ducks floated away to the center of the lake again, we began our trek down. It felt pretty quick, but it was really beautiful, with the way the sun was making everything golden (Golden Hour).

The sun setting made the scenery absolutely fantastic on the walk down.

The sun setting made the scenery absolutely fantastic on the walk down.

This better represents the golden light that was illuminating the trees and montains.

This better represents the golden light that was illuminating the trees and montains.

Below, Alex had just asked me, What is Alex’s favorite thing about Baxter (our cat)? The prompter question was supposed to make me smile. It made me smile and then say “his black nose”.

Me and tree. Huge trees abound in the Pacific Northwest.

Me and tree. Huge trees abound in the Pacific Northwest.

We soon recaptured our icy cold water bottle and made it back to the viewpoint, where the clouds had cleared for a much better view of Mount Adams.

Douzo!! Here you go! A Cascade mountain that never fails to impress.

Douzo!! Here you go! A Cascade mountain that never fails to impress.

Rainier haunts the horizon.

Rainier haunts the horizon.

Beargrass

Beargrass

Vibrant paintbrush amid white, bare branches.

Vibrant paintbrush amid white, bare branches.

Some great rock! And, don't look down!

Some great rock! And, don’t look down!

This was as far as I would "dangle" my feet off the edge. The trail was a bit muddy with the snowmelt!

This was as far as I would “dangle” my feet off the edge. The trail was a bit muddy with the snowmelt!

I can't rave enough about the clouds on this day.

I can’t rave enough about the clouds on this day.

It was intriguing how the clouds seemed to be converging toward the big puffy cloud near Mt Adams.

It was intriguing how the clouds seemed to be converging toward the big puffy cloud near Mt Adams.

Dotted sky.

Dotted sky.

The rest of the way down was a delight, although without the whistle of varied thrush. I think they were tucking in for bed by now.

Our car got quite dusty from the gravel roads. And we found a surprise on one of the tires!

And, I laughed heartily when I saw this cone stuck to the car's tire upon our return. I've never seen that before!

I laughed heartily when I saw this cone stuck to the car’s tire upon our return. I’ve never seen that before!

Thank you for reading. I hope you get out there soon.

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