My doberman, my folks’ black lab and I were sitting with our tongues hanging out at the summit of 6,500-foot Goat Peak, the highest point on American Ridge.
It was a hot, sunny summer day and the 3,000-foot plus elevation-gain climb had worn us out. But the views! They were everything Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas had promised in his writings.
Mt. Aix and the other jagged peaks of Nelson Ridge rose above the Bumping River, some well over 7,500 feet tall. Mt. Rainier, Fife’s Peak, Bumping Lake and undisturbed forests extended for miles.
Thirty-eight years later I’m back at the summit. It remains a tough, unrelenting climb. But, to my chagrin heavy smoke from several close-by wildfires obscured most of the vistas. Still, I could see the area where I bagged my first bull elk, the stream where I caught my first dolly varden and many peaks summitted over the years.
The William O. Douglas Wilderness is still one of the best destinations in the continental U.S. for getting a taste of the wild.