It was a cool, but sunny September day in Indian Heaven Wilderness a few years ago.
The 32 square-mile Wilderness lies between Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. It sets on a 4,000-foot plateau with over 150 lakes and 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 decided to hike to Blue Lake located below Gifford Peak. Upon reaching the lake, I marveled at its deep blue color.
Some exploration sounded like fun so I hiked to the north end of the lake. From there I bushwhacked up 800 vertical feet to the top of 5,368-foot Gifford Peak. With that ascent now under my belt, I had summited all (almost all?) the peaks in Indian Heaven.
After bushwhacking back down to the lake, I savored every inch of the 3 1/2-mile trail returning to the Trailhead.