EAST CRATER TRAIL-JUNCTION LAKE-PCT LOOP
Indian Heaven Wilderness, Washington
~9.5 miles, ~900 feet elevation gain
The temperature has dropped 15° since I left Portland this morning. Fall has definitely arrived. Time to put on some pants.
|proof that I'm wearing pants|
Today isn’t about spectacular views or losing myself in the mountains. I just need some time to myself. Sometimes, the best days are spent alone for me.
|dew and fall-colored huckleberry leaves|
Starting out the from the East Crater trailhead, I make my way up mild and well-graded trail to shallow, sandy-shored Junction Lake. The day threatens rain that never appears, instead (take that, weatherman!) the sun wins the battle sometime after midday, warming me as I snack on almonds a couple of miles further down the trail near Lemei Lake. Initially muted in the gray light, the meadows are suddenly brilliant in their fall colors.
|the sun arriving at Lemei Lake|
I float through the miles, wandering off trail to other wee lakes. Pepper is my only company, making me laugh as she unsuccessfully stalks birds, finches, waterfowl and squirrels. I see not a single soul all day, though I was honestly prepping myself to possibly meet my first bear- I saw more fresh, berry-filled bear scat (ten total) through these meadows than I have ever seen (my natural repellent apparently won out though…No. Bear).
|not a bird, but she did catch a pug-sized mushroom|
|experimenting with a crappy phone camera on the PCT|
|my favorite of the day: Bear Lake & pug photo bomb|
Still a new area for me, Indian Heaven will most likely turn into a favorite fall stomping ground. It’s not about big views, expansive scenery or the gloriously barren alpine, but rather the extraordinary peaceful quality that pervades this plateau with its myriad of lakes and meadows.
|muted fall colors in the meadows, Lemei Rock in the distance|