So there we were happily rolling along the road beyond the Lolo Pass PCT Trailhead on a gravel road that would eventually lead us to Wahtum Lake. Or it would have if the washouts didn’t give us second thoughts. We stopped, we looked, we turned around. We didn’t want an adventure that started with getting Stella stuck. We went back to the PCT and counted our blessings. We didn’t have a Hood map along, but we did have a Columbia Gorge trails map, which brightened Stoic considerably, but still left us hanging a mile or two off the edge of where we sat. We compared it to the scaleless map on the trailhead sign to make up the difference. Four miles north plus two miles downhill would take us to Lost Lake…and just like that, we had a new plan. Since we had no phone service to notify our spouses of the change, I left a note on the front seat of the car and we were off!
It was rocky but lovely with views of Hood and Adams. I was incredibly happy to be out with my favorite partner in crime with our boots on my favorite trail. The mosquitoes were out and we stopped so I could apply repellent, but some lucky bug got one good bite in anyway. We arrived at the junction to Lost Lake, the Huckleberry Mountain Trail, though there seems to be no Huckleberry Mountain, and made our own topographical judgments about the descent, hoping it wouldn’t be a brutal climb come morning. (I’d note back home that the trail is listed as closed, but it was in perfect condition.) We’d been looking for a nice place to sit for lunch, but there was almost nowhere to step off, much less drop packs and eat. So the next less-than-ideal log became it.
On our way down, we met a few people coming up, all campers climbing the trail to see what they could see. Without views from the crest for two or three miles, they went back down, a little disappointed, but still happy. It was just the beginning of witnessing dozens of happy vacationers. We thought we were descending into a tourist trap and were prepared to make the best of it, but I think they were all given laughing gas at the resort entrance; everyone was happy.
We reached the bottom, and the lake rim trail. To our right, inexplicably, were a gravel road and a minivan. We went left. With aching feet from much rocky trail, we looked for a place to settle in. There was nowhere. This side of the lake not only had no level ground, it had no campsites to speak of. Hmm. I’d brought my tent, not my hammock. Coming up on a mile of lake walking, miraculously, there was a large level site for us with a tiny beach for two! It was already occupied by a temporary two, a careless two who left their banana peels and water bottles, but that was as grumpy as I felt toward the vacation population entire. We took care of it.
There was room for several tents, and I put up mine quickly. Pads and bags inside, there was nothing more we needed to do. Curious about what or who else was near us, I went a little further around the lake on my own and made a couple of discoveries. I found Inlet Creek! This was great because I had reservations about drinking such popular lake water. I was content to drink it before it reached the lake, however.
The second discovery was sweet and sad and requires no further explanation:
We took a nap in the warm tent and I read my too-heavy-to-bring-backpacking paperback. Eventually, Stoic made us our beef stroganoff dinner and we took it down to our tiny beach. We sat on our pads looking over the water with sporks in our mouths and sipping whiskey, speculating about whether the storyline from the movie Man’s Favorite Sport, which takes place on fictional Lake Wakapoogee, might be playing out across the water over at the resort. It was a very satisfying and peaceful way to end the day. Just us, a handful of salamanders, and an unlucky fly fisherman.