The following is a prelude to Video Episode 14 you can either click here to watch the video or read through and click at the end.
Indian Henry’s Grave
Earlier this year I finally made it to Indian Henry’s (Soo-Too-Lick) burial site.
I never realized Indian Henry had been near me where and when I lived in Eatonville all along. He wasn’t that hard to to find either. A 4-H Club had built his monument, a few Eagle Scouts later refurbished and cleaned up his grave, and years later here he lays south of Eatonville along the Nisqually area on the side of the Mashel Prairie Road. There is a small shaker church cemetery where he and only a few others rest.
If you remember from one of my episodes back, Indian Henry had been one of the three only Indian guides who was immortalized by areas of Mt. Rainier being named after them and he probably never fully understood at the time how one person could have such a big impact.
Indian Henry 1825-1895
Indian Henry came to Western Washington in the 1850s, banished from the village of Simcoe, where my great great uncle was an Indian Sub Agent on the Yakama Indian Reservation at Ft. Simcoe for killing a medicine man. Today I am unsure if their paths had crossed.
Born Soo-Too-Lick in 1825, historians aren’t sure of his tribal origin. He is believed to be of Nisqually, Cowlitz or Klickitat origin. He eventually settled on the Mashel Prairie near present-day Eatonville in 1864 among other Native Americans primarily of Nisqually and Klickitat descent.
According to Edmond Meany, when Henry Winsor, a mail carrier, met Soo-Too-Lick he asked him his name. It was unpronounceable to Winsor prompting him to joke, “that’s no name-your name is Indian Henry,” offering Soo-Too-Lick his “Boston” name. The name stuck. Indian Henry adapted well to this name as he did with many of the customs of the “Boston” settlers. He was equally as comfortable with his Native customs and had little problems living within both of these “worlds.”
Indian Henry wore western style clothing and took up farming on the Mashel Prairie. He raised horses and cows as well as cultivated grains and vegetables. He was fluent in English and several Indian languages. He converted to Christianity. He was hospitable to both natives and non-natives, establishing many friendships and companionships. Many folks who headed to Mount Rainier would stop and stay at Henry’s homestead for a night, purchase supplies from him and use his guide services.
Indian Henry became known as an excellent woodsman and guide. He led several climbing parties to Mount Rainier, but never summited the mountain. Like most area Native Americans, he held the mountain as a sacred place and would not venture onto its glaciers believing to do so would bring bad luck. Some of the notables Henry guided included James Longmire, George Bayley, Philemon Van Trump, and A.C. Ewing. In 1888, Henry guided John Muir and his party to Mount Rainier. Fay Fuller spent the evening at Indian Henry’s place on her way to the mountain for her historical ascent.
Indian Henry Had Three Wives
Indian Henry had three wives as was customary of his people at the time. One story goes that Henry was brought before Judge James Wickersham in Tacoma to explain his marriage to these women. The judge told him that he would have to give up two of his wives. He kept his first wife which he ended up having five children with including a son he named Wickersham Soo-Too-Lick. Despite the conflict of having to let go of two of his wives, he apparently didn’t harbor any ill will for the judge, naming a son after him. Henry respected that Wickersham had an understanding of native cultures. Henry’s other two wives remained nearby working for him.
Indian Henry became fairly well off. It was believed by many of the area settlers that Henry had a gold mine somewhere on Mount Rainier. He always paid for his supplies at the local mercantile with gold nuggets. Some area settlers looked for this mine around Henry’s favorite hunting grounds but to no avail. Aside from the gold, Henry made a decent living by providing travelers lodging and supplies at his farm.
Despite raising cattle and cultivating crops, Indian Henry often left his farm for periods of time to hunt and gather food for the winter; keeping within his native routines. One of his favorite spots for hunting mountain goats is a beautiful alpine meadow area splotched with sparkling tarns-a beloved place by hikers today known as Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground.
Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground
Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground was one of the first hikes I took my 3 boys on.
Coming up from Kautz Creek, my then husband took our 8 year old twin boys and 6 year son on our first attempt. We started our adventure early in the day but soon the steep hill and large steps were too much for them. We ended up having lunch, treats, snacks, cookies, and just having fun playing in the forest that day.
Years later, my second attempt from Longmire was with my friend Diane. I believe it was around 90 degrees that day. We ran out of water, the bugs ate us alive, and because of the fact there was no way to treat water or filter water on me that day, I ended up jumping into snow banked Mirror Lake to cool down. If I wouldn’t have, I probably would have become so dehydrated, I wouldn’t have made it back the 17 mile round trip.
After that experience, we decided to only go in early or late summer and not during the heat. Diane and I would spend many years hiking in this area between the Nisqually entrance to Paradise and Camp Muir. It was my good fortune to have a friend like her during a difficult and challenging time of my personal life after becoming a newly divorced 40 year old with three teenage boys.
It would be later years that I would take other friends and eventually my new husband, Scott. Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground is the quintessential experience and picture of Mt. Rainier; such as alpine Lakes, wildflowers, glaciers, cabins, grand firs, tall peaks and pristine.
Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground 2020
Day 14 Part 2
As Sandy and entered the grand expose’ of wildflowers, sunshine, meandering creeks, and happy butterflies frolicking through the grasses on our second to final evening, we too felt the force. The vibe of history is strong here. It feels surreal and holy as if it is blessed ground you walk on. Three iconic trails eventually meet and intertwine at this one spot, where the view of Tahoma is viewed best. It must be sacred and hallowed, you can feel it. Truly, the native people know all life that is given to them comes from her.
We take time to say hello at the cabin to two rangers who are taking a short lunch break from the noon days’ heat of summer. To take a noon day break inside is to escape from the swarming insects too. Sandy and I are happily greeted with their dance behind the cabin as we filter water. It wasn’t long before we had to don our puffy jackets, head nets and gloves to be able to fulfill our mission to fill our water bladders before making our way to our overnight camp at Devil’s Dream.
Devil’s Dream Backcountry Camp
In the same way Indian Henry’s is like Heaven, Devil’s Dream must have been named for hell.
In August there is no water so you must bring all you need down the hill or worse up the hill if you start your trip at Longmire and are staying here. Devil’s Dream Backcountry Camp is also known for bugs.
The bugs of the biting type are thirsty too, even a lone deer chases us around camp looking to lick our sweat.
We make our camp half way down the hill when our friends finally arrive and tell us the deer hangs out because it will lick our urine as well.
Admittedly this is a good name for this place, I think.
Just then a solo hiker, scoots by in a frenzy. She seems scared and rattled and makes a comment that a mama bear and her cubs had just bolted across the trail right in front of her.
She was young and had some how separated from her party so we invited her to sit a while but she was so shook up she just wanted to keep walking. I believe she more than likely walked right out of Rainier.
After, a hot, sweaty, dirty, buggy, bitten, lickin’ day, I introduce Sandy to the wet towel, Jet Boil sponge bath before dinner and lock ourselves into our puffy jackets, pants and nets once again.
Finally, we zip ourselves in and away from all that is Devil’s Dream.
Our final night.