The Spirit of Adventure 1843

Coming West to the Pacific Northwest

When I think back to how early pioneers and Native Americans lived in the Pacific Northwest, it is the spirit of adventure that comes first to mind. 

Captain Nathan Olney’s Memorial Plaque Dedicated 1956

Mortal Arrow Wound to the Head

What should have been a mortal wound that ended his life, Nathan headed west having an arrow tip from a battle that permanently pierced into his frontal lobe. Discovering our ancestor, Nathan Olney, 1824-1866, was a pivotal find my mom first learned of during one of her many genealogy digs. 

Nathan Olney was our great-great uncle, who came to live in Washington through the Dalles, Oregon. He journeyed west on the Palmer and Barlow wagon train arriving in the Willamette Valley, Oregon during 1843. In 1847 he will later become known as the first settler and resident of The Dalles known as Wascopum a small village. 

First Resident, Judge, Commissioner, Sheriff, Indian Agent

If it wasn’t perilous trying to get here, the otherwise peaceful Indians who moved and lived around early explorers and fur traders easily, where unsure of the new arrival of permanent families, cattle, wagons and living on the land.

Through this one simple genealogy find, my mom soon connected with a cousin, and direct descendent of Nathan, Teresa Anahuy. Teresa filled in the history she knew. Holes and pieces that were missing slowly filled around Nathan’s life and time spent coming to the Northwest, eventually to Ft. Simcoe on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington where he later married and lived out his short life.

Nathan eventually married Teresa’s grandmother, Annette, who was the daughter of a Yakama chief. 

As a 19 year old, Nathan originally made his home in The Dalles. Over the next few years he was a merchant providing supplies and food to pioneers expanding their way west. The journey west was a perilous one for pioneers who traveled by wagon and foot towards a better life in the great northwest where they would eventually ford the Colombia River into what is now Washington State.

The following document from a speech given at Nathan’s gravesite by Dr. Thomas Griffith, August 12, 1956 when a bronze plaque was provided and “placed upon his monument in memory of a fine Gentleman of the Pioneer days who passed from this life in the prime of manhood.”

Dedication Speech for Nathan Olney’s Memorial Plaque

by Dr. Thomas Griffith

“Immediately after the news of the Whitman Massacre reached the western settlements, Nathan Olney recruited and commanded a company of scouts, served with distinction under Colonel Gilliam during the Cayouse Indian War.

After the Territorial Government was formed in 1849, Wasco County was created. Included within its boundaries was a vast area of land extending from the summit of the Cascade mountain range in the west to the peaks of the Rocky Mountains in the east. In this, the largest County in the Territorial Government a that times, Nathan Olney served successfully in its administration as County Judge, Commissioner, Sheriff, and later during 1862, when Oregon had achieved Statehood, he became Ex-Officio Probate Judge.

In the early records of Wasco County he is referred to as “The Honorable Nathan Olney.”

During periods of time between 1854 and 1859, in addition to his many other duties and services, he served as Sub Indian Agent at Ft. Simcoe on the Yakama Reservation.

He rendered valuable assistance to Father Wilbur, one of the outstanding conscientious Agents, in the formative period of the Yakima Indian Agency.

He, Nathan Olney, was Father Wilbur’s friend.

In 1855, while Fort Dalles was garrisoned by troops from the Fourth and Ninth Infantry Regiments together with detachments from Artillery Units and Dragoons, a meeting was held by the citizens of the towns to formulate Articles for a local government and for the divisions of properties. Nathan Olney assisted in the preparation of these Articles which were approved by the Territorial Legislature during the 1855-1856 Session. 

It goes without saying Nathan was well liked by the Yakama people. So well liked, he is the only white man who is buried on native land that we know of. There is a large headstone at his place of rest as proof.

Nathan died the same way he arrived. At 42 years of age, a fall from a horse and he hit his head pushing the arrow head farther into his skull.

Bev Knoll Stern and Teresa Anahuy

Puyallup, Klapatche, and the few Native Languages on The Wonderland Trail

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 created 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.

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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 and sister Heidi on left abt. 1967
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Lisa’s Home 104th St. So Hill Puyallup abt. 1961
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Lisa’s Home 104th St. So Hill Puyallup abt. 1961 Mom, Beverly on left, Lisa, Grandma Ruth, Great Uncle Carl
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Lisa with brother Jack on left, and Heidi abt. 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 would make 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 and pointed down, probably because the limbs were abundant and rarely disrupted. It was those limbs that saved my life once as I slipped, lost my grip and fell about 30 feet once. Hitting each limb, broke my fall and I ended walking away with just the air knocked out of me.

The fir was another story. My dad cut the limbs off the bottom so I could not reach the branches to climb. A portable step made out of a tree trunk was a local find in the gully and I easily rolled it to position. The tree climb was easy here up sixty to eighty feet. Even better was a windy day when you swayed with the top of the tree and could see all your neighbor’s yards front and back within the same block.

Day 12

Golden Lakes, Klapatche Park to South Puyallup Camp

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A willingness to endure some discomfort is the type of passion it takes for this stretch of the Wonderland. 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 the Westside Road before heading up to Klapatche Park. Now closed at mile two, Westside road was grand memory of times when we used to drive it to day hike in high school.

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Tahoma aka Mt. Rainier

This is when the heat started and Sandy’s blisters from her new boots became worse. Hiking up the hill in the heat, we approached Aurora Lake and we decided to stick our feet in and have lunch. It made for a nice spot because our friends from Golden Lakes were camping at Klapatche and the four women were no where in site.

The three of us walked around through the lake, cooling off and lunching with the lake lapping up the reflection of Mt. Rainier. Klaptache Park is the place to stay.

Making our to St. Andrews Lake, we break at the top 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 and colorful and explicit language of our feelings of being completely done.

With weight of heavy backpacks, the heat, and uncomfortable footwear we continued unbroken but spent as we gently stepped our way down a long forgiving trail to South Puyallup Camp.

To live here you know the native names Puyallup- Pew-all-up, Tacoma- Ta-co-ma, Enumclaw-Eee-numb-claw, Sequim-Sqim, Snoqualmie- Snow-qual-me, Olympia- O-limp-pia, Mowich-Mau-ich, Klapatche- Kla-patch-ee, and the real name of Mt. Rainier, Tahoma- Ta-ho-ma

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

 Video Episode 12 click here to watch the video.

Wildflowers of Berkeley Park, Trail Running and Sustainability

Wildflowers of Berkeley Park, Trail Running and Sustainability

The following is a prelude to Video Episode 7 Wildflowers of Berkeley Park. You can click here to play video or read and watch at the end.

Video Synopsis: Now on the Northern Loop Trail, Episode 7 takes us through Berkeley Park wildflowers and a lovely creek that meanders parallel and gives us perfect background music to a relaxing and lovely day. Runtime 6:55

Day 8

Headed for the Northern Loop Trail, we leave Sunrise Camp directly to the cache to resupply for the next 3 nights and 4 days. It is already getting warm with the extra weight but most of Berkeley Park is downhill.

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We meet several groups of people enjoying the brilliant wildflower display that makes this hike so delightful in August. Like Summerland, a hill that blooms from the bottom up most of the month of August. As if planned for us our coming, the entire hill was in bloom.

I think about how each lovely arm on the north side has been nothing short of a showcase. To the far northeast of Sunrise the seven lakes glisten next to path below the Sourdough Ridge an intense blue. Forest Lake with a peek into a past glacier with enormous rocks chiseled and carved with water and freezing temperatures, the last remainder of time past. Then down the Huckleberry Creek area, a lovely jade green forest and spa camp. Now the Berkeley Park trail, showing off every color it can in a buzzing fury of insects.

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We aren’t at Berkeley Camp long when a couple a long way from home arrive at camp. Berkeley Camp is a small camp like a bed and breakfast and you must walk by other sites to either go to the pit toilet or to filter water in the creek, making it impossible to avoid the other campsite.

While hanging my food at the bear pole, we exchange greetings and have a short one-sided exchange about plans. I never say too much that wouldn’t make me feel safe as a female in woods. The couple proceeds to tell me about all their forthcoming accomplishments, together they are hiking The Northern Loop, then the man was going to run around the mountain by himself supported by a commercial group he had paid that would help him. There is nothing humbling in this exchange. That means, a commercial company helps him finish, feeds him, sets up his tent, gives him encouragement, praise, food, shelter, and whatever else it takes to allow him bragging rights.

We pick a site, the one with the stump kitchen, that gives us a little forest cooking table and logs to sit on and carry on with our routine of filtering water, organizing the insides of tents, and decide to have an early evening since tomorrow is a long day.

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stump kitchen

Running the Wonderland

First, I want to say I am a runner. My runs have been at the most half marathons and 5ks. I run all winter and early spring to train for hiking season.

The last few years however, there have become more and more of supported groups of ultra runners on the Wonderland Trail. Most backpackers have something to say about them in forums on the internet. At times it seems they do not get along with one another.

While I am all about creating access to the wilderness and believe trails are for everyone. I also believe trail runners, like hikers and backpackers do cause an impact to the environment and need to adhere to trail etiquette. Since trail runners can finish so quickly with assistance, they also need a way to marshal their numbers with a permit system.

There are truly only a few really stellar endurance athletes that can run The Wonderland Trail without someone by their side or close by. My advice is if you cannot run over 100 miles at sea level do not attempt this, use it as a training ground in order to tromp the vegetation, scare the critters and ask backpackers to step off the trail or if they have an aspirin or ice pack.

The fact that runners can do this quickly means they don’t need a permit to be there. Companies that get paid good money, get away with sending literally hundreds of people to the trails.

It goes without saying , furthermore we will have nothing left of the fragile alpine meadows with this kind of attack by humans.

Trail runners also have a long way to go as far as etiquette.

On more than a few occasions during our time up a hill with heavy backpacks, we were forced off to the side. One young lady with nothing but her shorts and tank top, telling us how much she loved the wildflowers as she made her way down the narrow path through the meadow. My thought was if you have two men on the sides of you, assisting you, you do not respect the wildflowers.

Another time I was approached from behind and elbowed to make room and move. The excuse came later after the two runners could finish and get their breath.

Then there is the occasional runner who doesn’t even step off trail and stop, they just run down the meadow, or up the meadow, avoiding the trail all together.

I truly hope they do stop to look at the scenery. I truly hope they stop to appreciate the beauty of a wildflower and mostly I truly hope they advocate to protect it now that they’ve seen it.

Trail runners need to start a permit system and adhere to a code of environmental ethics and we must be respectful of one another, above all respectful of the environment that has no voice.

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Watch Video Episode 7 Wildflowers of Berkeley Park.

An Indescribable Sunrise at Mt. Rainier

An Indescribable Sunrise at Mt. Rainier

The following is a prelude to Episode 6. You can either watch or read the following then watch.

Episode 6 video synopsis: After seeing a big bear foraging at bed time, Episode 6 started with a 4:30 am wake up and eye lock with a big buck. Lisa and Shannon experience the sunrise of a lifetime and end with coffee by 9 back at the campsite by Shadow Lake. Runtime 12:42

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Shannon at Mt. Fremont Fire Lookout, Mt. Rainier

Day 7

Sometimes the wisest choices are made in the most spontaneous moments. This was day 7. We had never planned to get up before sunrise and hike to catch a sunrise. Something beckoned us that we should experience and do just that.

In a headlamp I begin to wake and I call to Shannon in the tent next to mine.

“Hey, Shannon are you up?”

Shannon, replies, “Yes”.

I believe we both said at the same time, “Let’s go.”

And we begin walking after grabbing a few items, to Mt. Fremont from Sunrise backcountry camp.

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Waking to Walking

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Before sunrise at Sunrise
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dawn seeping through
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Rainier to the west still sleeps

Just a few steps out of camp, we are met by a giant buck with glowing eyes at 5 am. It is heart pounding. My senses heighten, I’m cold, I’m shaking off my shivers one step at time, one foot in front of the other. I’ve planned my direction so my gut and instinct finds the way through with my small headlamp in complete blackness. That buck just stood erect in the same manner I did and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if it wasn’t for his glowing eyes from my headlamp.

Once I warmed up and got my feet under my breath, each step started to quicken as we make along the ridge to the top of Mt. Fremont Lookout right at dawn. The pikas whistles carry from the rocks below. The wind churns the blowing clouds below as I find a few boulders in order to hide away and tuck myself between.

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To the east was the red and orange glow of the sun, to the west and south was the sleepy giant ready to glow in unison with the rising sun. Like gasping for air between holding your breath I couldn’t decide if I should have my camera out, my video out, be turned to the east, turned to the west or just be completely awestruck and sit down and take in every moment so I did them all.

This is when I start to feel completely badass but insignificant. It isn’t about making it to the top or walking so far or doing it in in record time. It is simply about being able to make decisions and pull it together in order to experience life and STOP for a frickin’ moment to realize I am where I want to be and should be and need to be in this moment in time.

When the sun rose, I forgot my discomfort and all that we both could say repeatedly was, “I cannot believe this.”

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You can tell by my face this is one decision I will never regret as long as I live.

We make it back to Sunrise Camp around 9 am just in time to warm up to the real heat of the sun next to Shadow Lake.

Having my coffee and taking a walk around the lake makes for one of the most memorable mornings so far.

Watch Episode 6 video here.

Backpacking Rainier, The Stars of Forest Lake

Backpacking Rainier, The Stars of Forest Lake

The following is a prelude to 14 Days of Wonderland.  You can skip to the video by clicking Episode 3 here or read and click at the bottom of this page.

Video Episode 3 Synopsis: As Lisa continues to dry her gear, episode 3 takes you on several trails on the Wonderland. Through the White River area, to Sunrise. The group meets up with Bob and Wendy for a two day stay at Forest Lake. Runtime 9:25

Day 4

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My bedtime fears have always haunted me. In a demonstrative fashion every sound, sight and sense of movement seems abrupt and larger than life when backpacking and alone in my tent.

Overcoming my slight personality quirk was a mental goal of mine which eventually I hoped to find peace through the night. The first night on my sleeping pad, an old Z mat that I notice is starting to compress, is always an adjustment in comfort so I wrestle with physical more. Then there is the no pillow thing that I use a portion of my backpack that has my clothes rolled up into a ball inside to elevate my head slightly. Next there are more physical challenges, cold feet. I sleep with clean wool socks, I wear the next day with toe warmers or hand warmers or both inside. I also sleep in leggings, a long sleeved shirt, my puffy jacket, my wool hat and zip myself fully into my 35 degree bag. That’s my summer pjs. In Spring and Fall I use a 20 bag and a bag liner. Coupled with weather extremes, hiking demands, carrying extra weight over days, heat all continued to push me to my limits, clothing is a big deal.

After several full days on the trail laying down to sleep came well received but not without some mental challenges still.

It took me 4 nights to shake my bedtime fears even with Carrie and Sandy as my part-time tent mates.

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Meet Carrie

Oh my goodness my friend, Carrie saved my bacon. Carrie is neither self centered or self serving. She is a giver and an emitter of happiness with her golden locks, continually in tune with the feelings of others.

Wise beyond her years plus, with the added bonus of being a kick ass athlete, I hope some very deserving man comes to realize the drive in this woman. Drive, wisdom, determination, smart, understanding and knows her character, can I say more.

Carrie is just as passionate about nature and a true adventurer as myself. I love this woman for just who she is even if it was a bad day for her which I wonder if there ever could be, as she always is turning checking to make sure the rest of us are right behind her and happy.

Letting go of fear and breaking through to awareness was magical for me, as our group spent the first of two at Forest Lake. In the morning light, I discovered a lovely reflection in the lake. The air was calm and wonderful, reflecting the surrounding hills and forest. It seemed there was a forest both in the lake and I was surrounded with green. More than likely the reason a brighter person than myself had named it Forest Lake.

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Even more magnificent was the lake at night. Standing at the shore after midnight and before the moon had rose, were billions of stars reflected below within the heavenly waters. I do not know what woke me that night, at that particular time, coaxing me to the shore but, I had to go see if the reflection at night was equally as spectacular at day and was curious if a reflection of the moon would emerge in the lake as well.

I remember standing for a while, and in this way, realized the show above and below me moving in a semi circular scene ever so slowly with my face pointed upward. Turning my back and walking few steps to my cozy tent, I realized the hard evidence in the scene. It was grander than life itself in the mirror of the lake. The remainder of the disappearing world was suspended, floating in the heavens on this very tiny ball called earth. That night when it was simply me and the sky and the lake, the rest of world the evaporated and disappeared and then so did my fears.

In essence perhaps my biggest fear was not what I couldn’t see and what was lurking at me with glowing eyes hidden behind some tree. My fear was based on a perceived feeling of anxiety triggered by being alone. I’m sure whatever critter it was that chewed several holes in a nice silicone bowl Wendy had cooked in that first evening, really could care less about me and more about if we had left a morsel or crumb around for them.

I understand the critters but how do you explain my hot mess and where it comes from.

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Lisa, Wendy and Bob

We like a good charcuterie and my thanks this evening for good friends and wonderful locations.

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Walmart charcuterie at Forest Lake during a pandemic.

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Carrie and Lisa
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Wendy, Lisa, Carrie and Shannon work on Yoga stretches

Forest Lake felt like an outdoor spa. It had the cold plunge pool, and an even colder one with fountains and water features. This was our Yoga studio with all our mats.

Carrie’s mat doubled as a top layer to our sleeping bags as Forest Lake Camp is 5,660′ elevation so it became chilly at night.

Episode 3 Video Forest Lake Day 1

River Warning at the White River Crossing

River Warning at the White River Crossing

If finding Deer Creek Camp was like a needle in a haystack, White River Camp was like finding Woodstock.

After our Summerland day excursion, we end back at Frying Pan Creek. The Wonderland Trail continues north a short mile or so jaunt along the highway and crosses the muddy White River. This junction is where we split from Shannon and Sheli so they can get to camp and set-up and so Carrie and I can dance with the cars as we strategically place them at various trailheads.

Earlier in the month however, the footbridge over the White River was completely underwater and the hazard had become so concerning to the park, they placed a detour back to the highway, over the vehicle bridge and then meet back at the White River Campground.

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Meet Sheli

If there ever is awards for Rock Start of Backpacking Sheli has my nomination. It’s a given, backpacking takes mental will and physical endurance but it also takes a lot of problem solving. Like I said earlier, Sheli is the one who had found the sign for Deer Creek that saved us from spending the night off trail. She also gets A+ for tent skills. Her tent could hold up in a hurricane if necessary. Also, she has eagle eyes, so we gave her the spotter badge along with a keen sense of hearing. On a different trip Sheli woke me around 4:30 am with a whisper “Lisa, did you hear that?”, when an early riser porcupine squeezed itself between our tents and scrapped its bristley quills along the walls.

Sheli is also intrepid and unfathomable. Rather quiet at the right times, for example when I’m being stubborn in wet clothes, she was also a perfect person to have along on our adventure.

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Sheli, volunteering to lead crossing the White River
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Late in the day is never a time to cross a river and especially this one but Sheli was the first one out. Footbridges around Rainier are no joke. Many people loose their lives crossing them each year. People use poor judgement, they get thrown off balance, they try to ford rivers that they shouldn’t have forded. My preferred method when there are no handrails is the “butt scoot” where you literally ride the log like a horse and bump yourself up and down using your hands and arms like a pommel horse.

The rule is to always unbuckle your backpack before making a river crossing so if you or when you fall in your bag doesn’t prevent you from saving yourself.

I should have asked the ranger last week the question, why are we in the group camp at White River? It explained try finding a spot or the group camp. As our car and driver fetches any caches at the ranger station, Carrie and I then drive in circles through the haze of campfires, people in shorts, some shirtless.

When we are finally going to make our third trip around the campground, Shannon spots us and flags us over to the “group site” she has made because there isn’t one. Another fine example of the type of problem solving you must take while backpacking.

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As the day draws to an end, I head back home to resupply with my newly shipped rain cover and waterproof gaiters. Another fine example of problem solving in the woods, have someone at home place an order at REI and go pick it up.

Tomorrow I will meet my group at Sunrise for lunch, find Bob and Wendy, say good-bye to Sheli for this trip.

The trip from White River up Glacier Basin around Burroughs is beautiful but a nice elevation gain in the heat. The three find themselves taking frequent stops to gather their courage and strength but the views are worth it.



Bears of Summerland on the Wonderland Trail

CHAPTER 6~ BEARS AND SUMMERLAND ON THE WONDERLAND

Episode 2 Video The following is a prelude to 14 Days of Wonderland video is on the very popular Summerland Trail on the Wonderland system.  You can skip to the video by clicking Episode 2 here or read and click at the bottom of this page.

Video Synopsis: Still boasting the ziplock plastic bags in her shoes, Lisa contemplates returning them to Carrie. Upon summiting at Summerland camp it is found the camp had recently been ransacked by a bear. Runtime 6:40

Day 3

Mt. Rainier from Summerland

We wake up to gorgeous weather at Tamanos Camp and decide on taking a popular trail on the Wonderland for a day hike. Earlier during our planning Summerland Camp and Indian Bar Camps were both full and we could not make arrangements to backpack through both of these beautiful areas. A recent sign, posted, boot prints and a single track of something being dragged across the ground is all that remains of evidence to a scary day to campers who had camped there a few days prior.

Dragging Evidence
Bear Tracks

The story from the other campers was, campsite #2 was occupied at Summerland. During lunch a bear walked into campsite two, snatched a backpack out of the possession of a camper and dragged it and commandeering the bag and contents.

After crossing Frying Pan Creek, having lunch on the rocks and taking a brief moment to catch a few golden rays of sunshine, we were met with a spectacle of wildflowers. Everything from Lupine, Columbia Tiger Lily, Columbine, Magenta and Orange Indian Paint Brush, Pearly Everlasting blooming all at once. In the background the lovely scents were married with the mountain as if standing so proud of her work.

Carrie and Lisa soak in some sun

The trail up to Summerland is a sought after day hiking spot, especially on a weekend in summer. It starts from lush, green forests, on a wide forgiving pine needle filled path that is easy on the knees. Later it switches back and forth as Frying Pan Creek cascades and falls over the rocky face of the hill. From it’s crossing you catch a glimpse of Rainier, here and there along with wildflowers that forever fill the hillside all summer. 

Sheli, Shannon and Carrie, Summerland

When we a arrived to take a walk through camp, we found a posh pit toilet, and high end, solidly constructed rock walled group site. I’ve been here many times with the chipmunks and marmots looking for a handout. I spotted one lazy marmot hiding from the heat under a tree. 

Group Site at Summerland

Which is probably how the bear came to be.

In essence I feel sorry for the bear. People feed the chipmunks, they are aggressive when you sit for a split nano second. They jump all over your bag, and hop inside if you walk away to peak over the hill. The marmots take their share too. 

So why not the bear?

Just there for his share of take-out.

Most, if not all of Rainier’s backcountry camps, have bear poles. We never leave any of our food unattended. Ever. 

It goes without saying Rainier’s bears are generally mild and do not aggressively take food away from humans but this bear decided it would go about his business differently. That’s when the rangers started putting up signs, checking in with hikers, and doing what they call mitigation to scare it away.

We didn’t ask for details what mitigation was, air horn, rocks, yelling, we were just more concerned there was still that particular bear there. 

Sheli chats with a backcountry ranger on “Bear Mitigation Duty”

After filtering some water for the trip down, we take in a snack on a nice warm rock.

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Where the Sam Hill is Deer Creek?

The following is a prelude to 14 Days of Wonderland video on finding camp on the Eastside of Rainier.  You can skip to the video by clicking Episode 1 here or read and click at the bottom of this page.

Episode 1 Video synopsis: A search for a lost camp known as Deer Creek as well as a rainy first day through gorgeous wildflower meadows. Lisa ends up wet from head to toe but with the help of her friends, ends up wearing gallon zip lock bags in her shoes and Carrie’s clothes for a climb up Tamanos Mountain. Runtime 9:31

Day 1

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Out in the middle of no where, our first day didn’t go quite as planned. To begin, Shannon’s car experiences a low tire alarm which keeps her driving at a snails pace in order to not cause any damage to her vehicle.

From past experience, Mowich Lake road is pot-holed, chuck-holed, dusty and busy. Hiker’s and their vehicles hoping to get a parking spot at least a mile within a trailhead on a weekend in summer, get antsy and sometimes plain old crazy. They pass each other, drive erratically, and in more than one case, as the scattered evidence proves, loose pieces of their vehicles to the belly of the washboard gravel road.

Shannon arrives safe and unharmed but her sweet car may never be the same.

From here on out is easy enough!

Our first day out was mostly trips to cache and plant vehicles at various locations and luckily we have all day.

If all goes according to plan, we will make it to camp at Deer Creek for a relaxing JetBoil dinner, filter water for the morning, get plenty of rest and settle in to the sights of the evening forest and sounds of babbling Deer Creek.

Shannon and I plan to meet at Mowich Lake on the north side of Rainier around 10 am. We plan to leave Shannon’s parked car, then proceed to drive together, masked up, in my car to Sunrise, pick-up Sheli where she will be leaving her vehicle. Then we all three will head to White River Campground to drop our cache location behind the ranger station. Finally, we will arrive at the Deer Creek Trailhead on the Southside to Owyhigh Lakes.

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Raspberries make everything better from Shannon’s garden as we ditch Shannon’s car in a somewhat safe and cozy spot we were lucky to get. After jockeying our backpacks, we head down the mountain once again to the other side, a 1 1/2 hr drive away.

Chewing dust couldn’t taste more sweet as we head toward our rendezvous with Sheli.

We arrive at Sunrise around 2 pm. Sheli has encountered a bit of traffic leaving her home in Seattle as Shannon and I enjoy the sights and scenes of Sunrise. The wildflowers are blooming, the summer breezes felt lovely even in a COVID mask and bandana. Luckily we have pad our day with time and aren’t rushed because we know the backcountry camp at Deer Creek is right off the highway with best part being downhill. We could just roll down it if we had to.

We find a good spot for Sheli at the overnight parking area just as she pulls up, stretch our legs, jockey our gear once again in the back of the Jeep and are on our way!

The journey from Sunrise is a short 20 minutes as we pass the image of the mountain in our mirror and through our window as we weave in and out the hills and forest of the dryer side of the mountain. Finally, descending deep into Steven’s Canyon, I remember my comment how the hike tomorrow will be somewhat the same going back up with full backpacks. I am confident mentally we will be ready and prepared for whatever this mountain gives us over the next two weeks, the good the bad and the ugly if there will ever be one given the beauty of what our first evening will hold in our memories.

When I spoke with the ranger the week prior, she gave me specifics on where Deer Creek camp was located. Since I had never been to that particular trailhead, I needed a bit more information on where to park or some interesting landmark that might help me if we had a later start and it got dark in the canyon. The ranger assured me it was right off the highway within 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile on the Owyhigh trail, just past the bridge over Deer Creek.

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Shannon as well looked Deer Creek up on several websites, Washington Trails Association and AllTrails. She comes prepared with a printed copy of a recent trip report that gave directions supporting our start location.

With the beep of the Jeep, we set off for our first night at lovely Deer Creek.

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Passing by Deer Falls, a popular tourist stop, we come upon just a few families who are making their way back up the steep hill. The smell of the forest and the falling waters create a peaceful Zen and worthwhile stopping point for travelers heading west to east in the summer. As soon as we find camp, our first night will be a celebration complete with a bottle of Summit wine and an evening of relaxation.

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As soon as we find camp.

We come to the Eastside junction, of four corners. To the west Owyhigh Lakes, to the North Eastside Trail, to the South Eastside Trail, to the East, where we came from the highway. No sign said Deer Creek.

We continue west on the Owyhigh Lakes Trail as Shannon pulls out her trail report. We read, it can be hard to find and “Good Luck”.

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We walk, and walk some more, then start heading uphill. Things are going to get sweaty now.

We walk, and walk some more. Lisa in a cautious yet hopeful tone says, “Shannon, in your mind did you envision this being this far off the highway?”

We walk, and walk some more. Shannon, in her cool as a cucumber voice speaks positively, “Hmm, maybe not.”

Lisa then says, “Let’s turn around. It is getting late.” realizing I know where my car is but not the camp.

We return to the four corners and talk.

We talk and talk and decide which direction to take, between North Eastside and South Eastside.

Sheli with confidence pointing a trekking pole and says, “That way!” and then points to the tiny etched arrow and scratched in words of Deer Creek.

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We are home after a short what was known as our pre-tour of tomorrow.

Sheli earns her badge as trailblazer, wild animal spotter and she also gets an A+ in pitching a tent.

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From Left: Sheli, Lisa and Shannon

According to Wikipedia, Sam Hill is a euphemism for the devil.

Episode 1 contains a search for a lost camp known as Deer Creek as well as a rainy first day through gorgeous wildflower meadows. Lisa ends up wet from head to toe but with the help of her friends, ends up wearing gallon zip lock bags in her shoes and Carrie’s clothes for a climb up Tamanos Mountain. Runtime 9:31

The Enchantments

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Lisa, Eightmile Lake, The Enchantments

Known as one of the most pristine areas in Washington State, The Enchantments are conveniently tucked in the cascade range near the touristy Bavarian town of Leavenworth. I was lucky enough to be invited with a friend who has applied and was drawn through the lottery system through the USFS with applications beginning in February for the coming season.

The Enchantments have five zones when you apply. It is written, last year 2019, over 18,000 people applied for The Core permit with only 350 or so permits approved. My friend had applied for Eightmile / Caroline Lake, set on the far west side with only 300 permits applied for with most all approved.

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3 Days of Enchantments

     Day 1

Destination: Eightmile Lake 3.3 miles/1,300 elevation gain

Our first day was carrying our packs and trekking to set-up camp. We parked at the trailhead and set off around 11 am. It was already in the 80’s and mostly exposed. The water from the last of spring run off was plentiful along the way.

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Candace, Chey, and Ryan

Arriving around 3 pm we had enough daylight to set up our tents, hang our cache away from the critters and have a swim in Eightmile. Dangling on the line, the wind was cool and comforting and dried our dusty clothes from the day.

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Lisa, Chey, Candace and Ryan

That evening, I quickly learned my appetite was 1/2 of a Mountain House so for my next trip I will need to divide the package into two servings so there isn’t so much trash carried out.

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My cozy little tent rippled in the wind during the evening as well as a few little pitter patters of raindrops fell at night.

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Day 2

Destination: Caroline Lake 4.18 miles/ 2,000 elevation gain (8.5 miles round trip)

My friend Candace and me got up early to a beautiful blue sky. We decided quickly to pack our bags for the day and headed out to Caroline Lake, an additional 2,000 ft elevation gain to 6,200 ft.

Caroline Lake involves backtracking to Little Eightmile and taking a trail with signage that says Trout Cr. Following Trout Creek, you start uphill.

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The Enchantment mountains of the Stuart range appeared to grow into the background as we continued to climb. It was hard not to just stop and stare at the beauty as we took our time to catch our breath.

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Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 6.57.27 AMThe wildflowers were beautiful against the burn-out of pine trees as their little heads waved in the strong wind. Due to a recent fire, the soils were rich and fertile and the amount of wildflowers was more than I have ever seen in my lifetime and all at once up a 2,000 foot hillside. I took a lot of video with my GoPro this day because of the wide-angle lens, it was the right choice to take along. VIDEO LINK

We returned around 3 pm so the hike to Caroline Lake was a full day for us. Candace’s daughter was starting to get a bit concerned so make sure you let your party know it is so breathtaking you will want to take your time getting there.

We both felt so complete that this trip and portion of the zones that is most often overlooked, could just very well be just a well hidden secret as we had the hill almost completely to ourselves this day.

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This night was still and calm, as we battened down the hatches, donned our repellent and bug nets and started in for the fight of our lives against hoards of mosquitos eager to get their fair share of any bit of bare skin their could find.

We finally retreated to our own tents and just hunkered down for an early evening.

Day 3

Morning at Eightmile Lake

This was an amazing morning. We got up before anyone else at camp. I had my coffee and little bit to eat and we headed to the lakeshore for some reflection photos. I also shot some video of the lake which is nestled between two steep mountains.

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If you are thinking about going to Eightmile Lake and The Enchantments, don’t miss this lovely section. You can view my full video here: FULL VIDEO LINK

Authors Note:  Upon returning to my car, I discovered it had been broken into. LEAVE NOTHING OF VALUE in your car. Thieves know of every hiding place in your vehicle. They even knew about the secret hiding spot under my tailgate of my Jeep and the place where the carpet can easily be lifted to hide valuables. If you can leave your vehicle unlocked that is my suggestion. Luckily, the only valuable I had left was a few lug nuts and my registration and garage door opener. I made it out quick enough to call the neighbors and my husband also quickly changed our codes. Trailhead thefts are very common so remember, leave no trace and plan to leave valuables home.