Chapter 17~ Golden Lakes, Sunset Park, Klapatche and South Puyallup

The following is a prelude to Video Episode 12 you can either click here to watch the video or read through and click at the end.

Chapter 17 Synopsis: Some of the most spectacular scenery met with some of the hottest and strenuous conditions, Lisa and Sandy find themselves pushed to their physical limits and under a time crunch to get to make it to South Puyallup Camp before nightfall. 

Learning the Native Language of Town Names

My hometown is Puyallup, pronounced Pew-all-up. Generations of my family have lived here since the early 1900’s.

Arriving from Buffalo, New York, my great-great grandparents purchased 10 acres of land in the Fruitland area of So Hill. A cable car conveniently ran from downtown Tacoma through the outskirts and then past our farm and then continued down Fruitland Avenue to Puyallup.

Our farm was one of the only farms that had a spring year around on the hillside. My grandmother said many people would stop at the spring, which was small, to get water. As a kid growing up this small 5′ in diameter hole provided hours fun as I remember sinking my feet in the thick, gooey mud and searching for small amphibians. Somewhat hidden and tucked away in the old growth woods, my grandparents and great-grandparents had arranged small rocks around the border of the front where one could rest a hand as they kneeled and stooped forward.

Sharpe Knoll Family Home South Hill, Puyallup, Washington abt. 1940-50

The back side of the spring had a tall bank where small ferns and roots would stick out. A small trickle of water added to the landscape where I imagined make believe friends and fairies.

Growing up here was magical. The back 7 acres consisted of a water pipeline and road that carried water from the McMillan Reservoir to the City of Tacoma. Beyond that was nothing but trees. Tall, deep, old trees with a wide deep trail, eight city blocks long that connected 104th st to 112th St.

Lisa’s Home 104th St. So Hill Puyallup abt. 1961
Lisa’s Home 104th St. So Hill Puyallup abt. 1961 Mom, Beverly on left, Lisa, Grandma Ruth, Great Uncle Carl
Lisa with brother Jack on left, and Heidi 1967

Along with the early stories of my grandmother and uncles traveling to Longmire, a two day trip before good roads, this is where my love of nature and the natural surroundings transpired.

My grandmother and I would take daily walks through here. By the time I was in second grade I knew most of the names of the small plants and types of trees the forest held. We would be pick wild strawberries, tiny and sweet from the borders of the thick woods. Red Huckleberries would poke their shrubby heads up out of stumps that might yield the hopeful start of a yummy small pie. And always the grand finale of the walk was to go up to the top of the pipeline road to see if the mountain was out.

My parents and brothers and sister and I lived next door until the late 60’s. My grandparents lived here until the 70’s, then my husband I did until the 80’s. My great-uncle, my grandmother, my mother, my dad, my self, my brothers and sister, my niece, nephew, cousins, and now my grandchildren either all graduated from Puyallup High School or currently attend Puyallup schools. Many of us still live in the area but nothing but the spring and the old house sitting alone my grandparents lived in still remain.

Puyallup has changed into freeways and strip malls like most of urban-housed, grange-fed America.

Climbing Trees and Mountain Trails

Thinking back, another great pass time of mine was climbing evergreen trees. There were a few favorites of mine, a cedar in our side yard between my parents and grand-parents house and a fir at the front edge of our property even thought there were many others to choose from.

The cedar’s branches were always coated in a fine green dust that curled down. The fine green dust was probably due to the abundant limbs, dense and rarely disrupted. It was those limbs that saved my life once as I slipped, lost my grip and fell about 30 feet. Hitting each limb, broke my fall however, and I ended up walking away with just the wind knocked out of me.

The fir was another story. My dad cut the limbs off the bottom so I could not reach the lower branches to pull myself up to climb. A portable step made out of a tree trunk found nearby in the gully was easily rolled it to position. The tree climb was swift here up sixty to eighty feet in a few minutes. Even better on a windy day you would sway with the top of the tree and could see all your neighbor’s yards front and back within the same block.

Day 13

Golden Lakes, Klapatche Park to South Puyallup Camp

Sunset Park

The point of the story story the follows is you must have a willingness to endure some discomfort to appreciate the outdoors. This is the passion and mindset it takes to discover the gracefulness of the wilderness and not just view every hill and river as a challenge to conquer. There are days of fog, cold, wet, heat, bugs, bears and just like falling out of trees, this stretch of the Wonderland will tax every bit of my character.

With August temperatures nearing ninety degrees, Sandy and I made our way from Golden Lakes through Sunset Park to the South Puyallup Camp. Approaching some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable we stopped for a snack at the very end of what used to be the drivable, Westside Road before heading up to Klapatche Park. Now closed to motorized traffic at mile two, Westside road was a grand memory of times when we used to drive it to day hike in high school.

Tahoma aka Mt. Rainier

On this particular day the heat started creeping higher and higher and Sandy’s blisters from her new boots became worse. Hiking up the hill in the heat we had saved carrying water to times we came upon a creek to filter water, and drink it while we rest. When we finally arrived at Aurora Lake we decided to stick our feet in and sit a bit to have lunch. It made for a nice spot because our friends, the two guys and a woman from Golden Lakes were camping at Klapatche and and better yet the four women were no where in site.

The three of us walked around through the lake, cooling our feet and lunching with the lake lapping back a rippled reflection of Mt. Rainier. Klaptache Park is the place to be on a warm summer day. A a magnificent place stay to watch a sunset on Tahoma.

Making our way to St. Andrews Lake, we break at the top and practically collapse in the heat of the day. I will never forget this being one, if not the most beautiful spots on the trip, the exhilaration of the view contrasted with the colorful and explicit language out of our mouths evoked feelings of being completely done.

With the weight of our heavy backpacks, the heat, and uncomfortable footwear, we continued unbroken but spent as we gently step our way down along a forgiving trail to South Puyallup Camp followed by a small swarm of biting flies.

To live here you know the real names of places Puyallup- Pew-all-up, Tacoma- Ta-co-ma, Enumclaw-Eee-numb-claw, Sequim-Sqim, Snoqualmie- Snow-qual-me, Mowich-Mau-ich, Klapatche- Kla-patch-ee, Yakama- Yak-a-ma, Cayuse- Ki-oose, Chinook- Shi-nook, and the real name of Mt. Rainier, Tahoma- Ta-ho-ma, and people

Klapatche Park to St. Andrews Lake with Mt. Rainier (Tahoma)

 Video Episode 12 click here to watch the video.