Mongo and Dad decided to take Spork on a hike to Dewey Lake. Actually, Dad does most of the deciding, but he still prefers to bounce these ideas off of Mongo, who is almost universally positive in his response. Over the years, Mongo has developed into an excellent “yes-man”.
Dewey Lake and nearby Tipsoo Lake are two excellent spots to take scenic photographs of Mount Rainier. Tipsoo Lake is right off HWY 410, and is on the agenda for many of the charter bus tours of the park. Dewey Lake is on the opposite side of the highway from Tipsoo Lake and down in the valley. It is a six (6) mile round-trip hike to the lake. It is about nine (9) miles round trip to hike from the highway and go all the way around the lake. Far less tourists ever make it to Dewey Lake.
It can be difficult to avoid the crowds at Tipsoo during summer. Early dawn is one of the few times when there is still a little solitude to be had on the lake shores. However Tipsoo is a very small lake which can be walked in just a few minutes.
Dewey Lake, however, stands as one of the monarchs of alpine lakes. This long, broad lake boasts scores of shoreline pockets that offer up the elusive solitude often hard to find in a mountain lake basin. Stunning scenery also awaits, with tall Naches Peak towering overhead and a rich forest cradling the opposite lakeshore. If that isn’t enough, Dewey hosts an impressive population of trout for the anglers among us. Indeed, the lake is stocked periodically by plane–fish are emptied from tanks in free-fall dives during low overflights of the lake.1
So early one morning, Dad bundled Mongo and Spork into the back of the truck, and set out for Dewey Lake. Once again, they left later than Dad would have liked to, but one makes do with what one has.
They arrived at the trail, and started on towards the valley. Dad had carefully researched the authorities in charge of managing this trail, and determined as long as he started on the trail in National Forest, he could avoid traveling within Mount Rainier National Park.
Not that Dad dislikes the park, but in the National Forest, Dad does not need a leash on Mongo. Spork gets a leash wherever she goes. Spork is a bolter. Bolters can make hikes extra exciting.
Dad and Mongo grabbed some food to go, and then headed towards the West Seattle Ferry Docks. It was time to pay a visit to George and Linda at the Palouse Winery, and explore a little bit of Vashon Island in the process.
They were lucky on the way to Vashon, the ferry was loading just as Dad pulled into the line. It was another cloudy and wet day, but that was not the kind of thing to dissuade Dad and Mongo from a hike. In fact, it just meant that they would most likely have the trail to themselves. And that the winery tasting room would be pretty quiet also, meaning there would be more snacks for Dad.
One dock worker directed Dad onto the ferry, and then another one made sure Dad’s truck was properly parked. He made sure Dad was up close to the car in front, and then crossed his wrists to show dad to cut the motor. Dad smiled at the man’s use of the aircraft marshaling signal. It seemed appropriate since Mongo and Dad were going to stop by George’s winery and George had been Dad’s instructor when Dad got his tailwheel rating in the Cub. The signal brought back fond memories of some of Dad’s piloting adventures.
Dad hopped out and opened the hatch on the truck canopy to let Mongo see out. The people behind him were quite amused as Mr. M made many different faces at them from the back of the truck.
Today, Dad, Kimi, Mongo, and SPORK all headed up to the mountains for a hike. Kimi was carefully corralling water and cliff bars for the hike to Snoquera Falls. Dad was marshalling dog supplies. They busied themselves for the trip as Mongo and SPORK milled about in the back of the truck.
It was Kimi’s and SPORK’s first trip to Snoquera Falls. Everyone had been busy in the morning. Some members of the team had been making piles in the backyard. Other members were scooping up piles in the backyard. When all the morning chores had been done, it was time to go on the hike. Unfortunately, it was a little late in the day.
The crew didn’t leave until after 2 o’clock, but it was sunny as they drove through Enumclaw. It looked like a perfect day for a hike.
Normally, it only takes about 45 minutes to reach the trailhead, but Dad insisted on stopping at The Pie Goddess in Enumclaw. How could he pass up a shop whose motto is “Pie makes everything better”? Kimi noted that even Agent K has been recorded as saying,
That stop took about fifteen minutes. By the time they left Enumclaw, the sky had turned to a steely grey. The weather can change incredibly fast in the mountains. Kimi pointed to the tops of the mountains, and exclaimed, “Look it’s snowing in the mountains.” All of the mountains had a frosting of snow on their tops.
It was 3 o’clock when they arrived at the trailhead. Mongo was thrilled to be back in the woods and went gamboling down the path. SPORK immediately went looking for small animals to kill.
Dad shepherded everyone toward the trail-head and set the pace on the path. There was only an hour and a half of sunlight left, and neither Dad nor Kimi brought headlamps. However, they both did have cellphone lights.
Dad was moving quickly up the steep slope at the base of the trail. Kimi looked at Dad and said, “Is it all like this?”
“No, not at all”, replied Dad. “It’s all uphill to the falls, but this is the steepest part.”
“Oh good”, said Kimi looking rather relieved.
The group moved quickly up the base trail to the first switch back.
“I call this part, The First Switchback” Dad informed Kimi.
“That’s a very appropriate name” Kimi replied approvingly.
The team kept moving. As they went higher, the group moved above the snow line, and into the clouds. It was becoming more difficult to gage the amount of light left in the day. But by the time shown on Dad’s watch, they were still set to return to the truck at exactly sundown.
After a few more minutes, the group moved into another switchback.
“What do you think I call this switchback?”, Dad asked Kimi.
“The Second Switchback?”
“Oh! That’s a good one. Much better than mine. We’ll go with yours.” Dad acknowledged.
“Really? What was your name for it?”
“Another Danged Switchback, but that name is easily confused with the name of the next one, known as Just Another Danged Switchback. So I vote we go with yours. In fact you should probably work on a name for the next one. You’re very talented at this sort of thing.”
Kimi rolled her eyes, at her dad’s frivolity.
As they finished the climb on the third switchback, Mongo saw the stream crossing the path and bolted for the water. SPORK was busy checking all the trailside rocks for varmints to kill.
“It’s a pretty view, don’t you think”, Dad asked.
“Very pretty”, Kimi answered as she looked up at the falls.
“Someday, I’m going to hike around to the top and look at the view from there, but to date, I never get here early enough”, Dad told her. The sun was dropping behind the mountains on the other side of the valley. “But clearly, I won’t go up there today either. Probably best if we head down now. I don’t want to get caught out on the trail in the dark.” They turned and headed back down the trail.
On the turn out of the second switchback, Mongo decided to stop and do a little sniffing. The rest of the crew continued on. Mongo was still running free, and Dad still had SPORK’s leash. Dad didn’t think it was sporting to turn SPORK loose on the local wildlife.
Mongo suddenly noticed that the rest of the crew had moved on. He spun and bolted down the path. As he passed Dad, he lost his footing on the edge of the trail and went tumbling by Dad.
“Buddy! You need to be more careful. You could hurt yourself”, Dad cautioned him.
Mongo gathered himself up and continued on down the trail. The team rounded the last turn and onto the base trail. It was getting a little wet on the trail. SPORK was pulling Dad along the trail. As Dad looked to see where Mongo had gotten off to, his foot slipped on a wet root. Immediately, Dad could hear the Fred Flintstone bongo theme playing in the background as he tried to gain his balance. But with each step, his foot slipped on another root. And all the while SPORK was pulling on the leash. The wet footing and the pull of the SPORK served to keep Dad unbalanced until he finally hit the ground. He thudded to the ground like a bag of cement.
“Dad! Are you alright?”
“Fine. Fine.” He answered as he took a mental inventory of the damage. Nothing seemed to be broken, or even really bruised. Mongo came over to help by giving Dad a big kiss on the nose. “Thanks Buddy, but that’s really not helping. Kimi, can you call him over to you?”
Dad righted himself, and they were soon on their way. After a quick-time walk along the creek, they emerged at the clearing where they had left the car. It was precisely 4 o’clock, and the sun finally set. It was a grand end to another fun day in the mountains.