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William O. Douglas Wilderness
I’ve always enjoyed hiking, climbing, camping, fishing and hunting in the William O. Douglas Wilderness. A favorite destination is McNeil Peak, one of the highest points in the eastern portion of the Wilderness.
On a beautiful summer day a few years ago, I parked at the trailhead above Rimrock Lake. The hike began with a steady climb to the top of Russell Ridge. The trail followed the ridge for several miles. The views were spectacular.
Mt. Adams and the multiple snow-covered peaks of Goat Rocks dominated the horizon. Goat Rocks are the remnants of a much older volcano.
The glacial-scrubbed U-shaped valley in the following picture originates in Goat Rocks, the headwaters of the South Fork of the Tieton River. The valley is the beginning location of another hike I will showcase soon. The photo is a gentle reminder that the Earth has been warming up gradually since the last Ice Age ended, roughly 11,000 years ago.
After several miles the trail dropped to some lush meadows, before switchbacking steeply to a saddle. From there is was a short but tough scramble up to the top of the 6,658-foot McNeil Peak. Like the 360-degree views from 7,766-foot Mt. Aix, it is very clear why the area became a designated wilderness. It’s truly special.
Pussytoes and Mountain Heather
Cow Parsnip, Scarlet Gilia and Hellebore
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