Hike Distance: 8.0 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 1036.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1735 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 136621 feet
Another significant milestone day for me as I passed the halfway mark on my 25,000 mile goal! It’s definitely a time of reflection when you achieve an important goal in your life. I believe everybody needs a long term goal, whatever it is (and legal), that helps them move through tough times as well as enjoy the good times. The hiking my wife and I have done have helped us bond and also helped me overcome some very rough times in life. Nature is very healing and hiking has helped us combine exercise while experiencing all the natural beauty in our world!
I decided that I would like to go through this milestone in Indian Heaven Wilderness, a place I would like my soul to roam when my body is gone. The “Heaven” in this wilderness is apparent every time I come here. It only adds to this special place that the magnificent Pacific Crest Trail traverses the length of this wilderness. My wife and I have spent many a hike providing “Trail Magic” to thru-hikers on their journey that will end in Canada. The pristine views from this wilderness abound, and I come here to refresh my soul and gaze upon perfection.
We parked on the road near the Rainy Lakes trailhead. A short distance on the trail is the wilderness permit bulletin board. Shortly thereafter is a single lane bridge over a small creek. The trail ascends steeply but later tapers out to a less strenuous ascent.
We bumped into a couple that was backpacking, and they were quickly descending to get away from the mosquitoes. Shortly after, we bumped into four young adults that were also hurrying down the trail due to the mosquitoes! Lucky us, as we were prepared for the onslaught of blood suckers, but it never got that bad. To be honest, the hikers we met were poorly prepared for any insects and had short sleeve clothing and no insect spray. We had our insect shield clothing, picardin insect spray and head nets. The mosquitoes simply had no place to land and no bare skin that wasn’t wreaking of picardin.
Continuing up the trail we finally made it to Rainy Lakes, which looks more like a flooded field. The water is quite shallow and there were plenty of frogs sloshing about. The lakes are surrounded by meadows and some clumps of trees. It’s a spectacular setting and I stopped to take pictures.
We headed around the lake and took the cutoff trail to the PCT. Before reaching the cutoff trail there is a nice view of Red Mountain but not the lookout. After reaching the PCT we headed north toward Berry Mountain. Ascending the swichbacks of Berry Mountain yields steadily increasing views. We had views of the southern Indian Heaven Wilderness, Red Mountain and lookout and the base of Mt. Hood. It brought tears to my eyes to see such beauty.
We didn’t have time to ascend all of Berry Mountain and turned around after achieving some awesome views. The sky looked ominous on our way back to the car. We thought it would rain but that never happened. On our descent, and within about one mile of the trailhead, is when I reached the halfway point of my 25000 mile goal. The trail is rocky and looks like a streambed where we were, but it was a fine place to reach that milestone! We took some pictures and continued back to the car.
Such a wonderful fulfilling day in a special place. We never saw any people after the initial groups at the beginning. We were definitely one with nature today. 🙂