Chapter 18~ Emerald Ridge and Tahoma Suspension Bridge

The following is a prelude to Video Episode 13 you can either click here to watch the video or read through and click at the end.

Synopsis: Lisa and Sandy’s arrival at South Puyallup Camp and the most spectacular scenery of the trip through Emerald Ridge and across the Tahoma Suspension bridge to Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground.

Finding Beauty After Pain

We arrived at South Puyallup Camp exhausted, hungry, hot and tired, it reminded me of having babies. Women go through this extreme physical torture and then in the end have this beautiful thing to look at and ponder the reason for life. 

I begin this chapter with a painful but beautiful part of my earlier life.

When I was in my early 20’s my then husband and I decided to make a move to Portland, Maine so he could finish his internship as an electrical engineer. It was a choice we accepted in order to put ourselves ahead financially so when we returned back to Puyallup we could start a family.

We had been married for three years and were excited to be starting this next chapter of our lives.

I had been working for a dentist for several years as an assistant and said good-bye to family and friends fas we readied for our long journey across country from Washington State to Maine.

We wouldn’t be in Maine long. It soon became a cold and lonely place for relocation.

Old Orchard Beach Pier from Brown Street

Our first stop up only on arrival was the tiny Skylark Motel directly on Old Orchard Beach. Located 30 minutes away from Portland, our daily trek with our 1981 orange Toyota Corolla SR5 lift back was made early in the morning to the gym, then I could drop off my husband at work. Some mornings it took 30 minutes to just warm the car up and get the ice chipped off the windows in order to get down the road.

Skylark Motel, Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Eventually I took a temporary position with a dentist in Portland and became pregnant with our first.

In most pregnancies you can easily be a dental assistant and work right up until delivery but, just prior to the end of my first trimester I started to spot. When I went to the hospital the ultrasound and exam diagnosis was placenta previa. This meant from here on out since we lived so far from the hospital it would be until the end of my pregnancy or until I quit bleeding until I left.

After 2 long months, I finally went into labor at 5 months and lost the baby.

It was a devastating time in our lives. I felt like I was walking around in a fog as we silently packed our things and made our way home across country in our little orange car.

Emerald Ridge on the Wonderland

St. Andrews Lake

At the top of the trail at St. Andrews Lake sits a tiny spot to get out of the heat on the Wonderland. It was her Sandy told me this day of backpacking was the hardest thing she had ever done in her life including child birth. Our backpacks weight was more than we could take in that heat. We couldn’t carry enough water to make up for the amount of sweat we excreted. If we slowed or stopped to rest the bugs then took over drinking their share of what was left of our perspiration.

Earlier that morning as we rallied among the peaceful trees of South Puyallup Camp, we had already decided her boots were a horrible liability to her being able to finish west side section.

It wasn’t soon after, Sandy let me convince her to use some emergency gaffers tape I had rolled around my poles to tape her good toes to her bad toes. My medical degree, obtained through Google over the past year had helped making this formidable decision. If Sandy would allow me, I could tape the good toes to the blistery bad ones, working the tape as a splint. Without hesitation, I completed the wrap around her entire foot as a measure of support for the sandals she would have to wear the rest of the way. It was either that are walk 9 miles out Westside Road and hope to get picked up and transported to Longmire.

If it wasn’t for REI’s excellent return policy, I might have asked her to bury those boots with my poop trowel or toss them into the Tahoma but under further thought the later idea violated both our Leave No Trace policy.

Both excitedly delirious once again, the beauty of Emerald Ridge and Tahoma rose in the endless background. We encountered a couple of men heading the opposite direction, through hiking, and saw a lot of bear scat but never encountered another soul. More than likely they had better sense than us hiking in the middle of day with heat approaching the 90’s once again.

Tahoma Suspension Bridge

The Tahoma Suspension Bridge is one of the most spectacular experiences in the park. Bouncing and swinging your way across the cable bridge the water cascades and boils underfoot spanning a half length of a football field. Perched at least 100′ in the sky and anchored by steel beams, the bridge deck is no more than a foot wide consisting of wood slats that occasionally have met their end by breaking and falling into the waters below.

The clueless, distracted or mentally un-present are reminded with a sign just prior to stepping on the bridge deck to proceed single file, one at a time and to not let children go unaccompanied. It goes without saying, stow your trekking poles first, you’ll want both hands to hang on incase you encounter that loose board or two.

Making a nice lunch spot with the bridge behind us, we head to Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground.

Our last day on the Wonderland will be nothing less than spectacular as we gather enough water for the evening in a bug infested pond out yonder and make are way just before sunset to Devil’s Dream Camp.

With a name like that, it’s got to be good.

Friends like this are hard to come by. On the left is Sandy crossing the magnificent Tahoma Suspension Bridge. Above is Sandy with her even more magnificent hiking shoes with gaffer taped toes and wrapped feet. She finished the Wonderland in a pair of sandals.

 Video Episode 13 Emerald Ridge, Tahoma Suspension Bridge and Indian Henry’s