A wonderful day in Indian Heaven Wilderness – – – crisp air, the trail crunching under my boots, ripe huckleberries so sweet they were almost impossible to stop eating, open meadows, fresh deer/elk/bear/coyote sign and too many pretty lakes to count.
And, I timed the 14-mile hike perfectly. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
The 32 square-mile Wilderness lies between Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. It contains over 150 lakes and has many large, open meadows to explore.
After hiking two miles to the east from the Thomas Lake Trailhead, while passing eight lakes and gaining 800 feet, I bushwhacked across the meadows for two miles to Junction Lake and the Pacific Crest Trail.
The autumn colors perfectly framed the beautiful lake. On the lookout for elk and bears, I took a four-mile loop hike to the north through large meadows and by multiple lakes. Lemei Lake, Clear Lake, Deer Lake, Elk Lake and many smaller bodies of water were passed. Soon I rejoined the Pacific Crest Trail and returned to Junction Lake.
From there it was a relatively easy hike southerly to Blue Lake located below Gifford Peak. I marveled at the deep blue color of the lake.
With only 3 ½ miles to go, I savored every inch of the loop trail returning to the Trailhead.