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!
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.
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!
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!).
And, of course, I had to photograph any wildflower I saw.
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.
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!
Shortly after storing our drink, we reached Cultus Lake.
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.
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!
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).
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”.
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.
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!
Thank you for reading. I hope you get out there soon.