The Wonderland Trail

Day 5 Summerland to Indian Bar

Up early again, by 6:00am. Have breakfast, and on the trail by 8:50am. On our way out, we stop at the creek to fill up with water, and with Ed’s binoculars, we are able to see two climbing parties on the Mountain!!!

I try to get some video of them, as the camcorder has a much better zoom than the cameras. Got a short day today, going just to Indian Bar. Start out the morning with a climb right away, to Panhandle Gap. Just before we reach Panhandle Gap, the terrain reminds me of a moonscape, very barren, with some snow fields. Strange looking piles of rock left laying around, like tailings from a mine. Finally, we reach Panhandle Gap.

Panhandle Gap
Panhandle Gap views

Wow!! What a view! Can see Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood in the distance, as well as the valley that will turn into Ohanapecosh Park & Indian Bar. It’s like being on top of the world; everything is laid out before us. Pretty windy here, too, and there is a couple of guys that get here before us, and they start digging out their jackets, it’s that cool…We descend down, doing a lot of gaping and picture taking as we go.

Not long into this descent, we run across a group of people that point out our first Mountain Goat sighting. Very cool, as I have never seen Mountain Goats in the wild before. They are possibly 200 to 250 yards away, so it takes a pair of binoculars to really see them well, we try taking pictures and video, but…Hard really to see if pictures will turn out or not…There was a small group of 5 or 6, and they had some kid’s with them.

Ohanapecosh Glacier
Ohanapecosh Glacier

Continued on down the trail, and the views that kept coming were nothing short of spectacular, Ohanapecosh Park to our left, the drainage into the Ohanapecosh River valley, which runs through Indian Bar to our right, and we are walking down the middle of them, on a narrow ridgeline that divides the two. Just incredible!!!

Just so much to see and experience, I feel transfixed by the massive views around me, making it hard for me to leave the area.

To our left, down in the park, we can hear the marmots whistling, and we can make out another group of goats, bedded down by the waterfall that cascades down from the cliffs above. Believe the name of the creek is Boulder creek. The Ohanapecosh Glacier has several huge waterfalls running down the side of the mountain, to form the headwaters of the Ohanapecosh River.

Just so much to see and experience, I feel transfixed by the massive views around me, making it hard for me to leave the area. But, I also felt the excitement of knowing that there was still more to see this day, so we hesitantly moved on. As we continued down the ridgeline, we hit the tree line again, and found and snacked on some tasty blueberries, these were very sweet, and good. Finally, we get good views of Indian Bar, and the rock shelter there. It was eye candy of the most extraordinaire!!

Indian Bar
Indian Bar

A master painter could not have evoked a more beautiful and picture perfect scene if he had tried! Finally, we tread the ground at Indian Bar, and it is everything that I had hoped for, and more than I could possibly have dreamed. Big, no, huge views everywhere. I try, but fail to find the right words to describe this little piece of heaven.

Indian Bar
Indian Bar Shelter

I took lots of pictures, and video, but they too, will fall miserably short of trying to capture exactly the presence of this place. Wauhaukaupauken Falls is pretty, running right under the bridge that separates the shelter from the other camp sites.

We try to get lower so that we can get a better picture of them from below, but fail to find a way down that doesn’t include riding the rapids. This time, we are the first into camp on the individual sites, so we get our pick, and choose site #1.

It’s a little tight for two tents, but we make do. Spend most of the day down by the falls, and Ohanapecosh River. I feel so dirty from sweat and trail dust, I decide to fill my collapsible 4 liter jug with water, and allow it to heat in the midday sun so that I can get a shower, but, as I’m filling the jug, much to my delight and surprise, I discover that the small stream that has meandered out of the meadow, to join the river at the waterfall, is plenty warm enough for me to bathe in!

Shower at Indian Bar
Indian Bar shower

And, not only that, as it forms a small 8 foot waterfall, it pours into a smooth, hollow depression right next to the falls, like a ready made bathtub!!! Oh, man, this felt so good!!! I rinse myself off, and then just sit there and soak for about ten minutes. After my refreshing bath, I crawl up onto the smooth rocks next to the river to allow the sun to dry my wet clothes, and laundry, and warm me up in the process. Man, that felt nice!

Noticed one signature was from Aug, 1940. 65 years ago…

I finally feel clean again! I try to talk Ed and Russ into trying it, but, I couldn’t convince them that even though it was snow melt, it really was warm! 5 or 6 fighter jets fly overhead in formation, surprising us. Later that afternoon, after getting dry, we check out the shelter, and notice that several people had signed their names over the walls and rocks on the inside. Noticed one signature was from Aug, 1940. 65 years ago…

Wonder if the person is still alive? So far, this is the most beautiful place I’ve seen on the mountain. The huge views, meadows, waterfalls, alpine forests, and looming mountains make for a truly spectacular setting. I find it hard to believe that there could be very many places more beautiful than this place on the face of the earth.

This is actually the view you get from the Indian bar privy! About as good as it gets!!!
Indian Bar Valley

Right before dusk, we made another trip down to the river, and meadow, and spotted a group of 5 deer. A 3 point, a forked horn, and a spike, with 2 does. We watched them for 20 or 30 minutes, and they played as they foraged, chasing each other, jumping around, and the males sparring with each other, very cool to see.

Played dice tonight again, and I finally won one! Fog is starting to roll in, thicker and thicker, and we’re concerned that we won’t be able to see the views afforded by the Cowlitz Divide in the morning! Lord willing, it will burn off early in the morning.