Backpacking Washington State's Indian Heaven Wilderness
Two generations of Northwest locals spend three days hiking, swimming, and wild huckleberry picking along the Pacific Crest Trail
This hike is part of an ongoing series of documented family hikes by Field Mag founder and photographer Graham Hiemstra. See more here.
Though NYC is home to Field Mag, the Great Northwest is where my heart and family still reside. As such, each summer I make a few pilgrimages to the region's many dense mountainous forests to get my fill of wilderness. Last summer we (my father, uncle, cousin, and I) explored the incredible Jefferson Park Wilderness in central Oregon. This year, we went one state up, landing in Washington's Indian Heaven Wilderness, an equally beautiful and bountiful place to spend some time.
Consisting of some 20,784 acres, wherein more than 150 lakes, ponds, and mosquito farms/marshes pepper the landscape, the aptly named wilderness was once the site of yearly Native American tribal gatherings. Each fall the Yakima, Klickitat, Cascades, Wasco, Wishram, and Umatilla tribes would gather to hunt, fish, collect berries, and race horses.
While we didn't do the first or the last of those things, we did do a bit of fly fishing and certainly collected our share of berries—the supply was unbelievably bountiful. All one had to do was look down to find a knee high stash of ripe berries. I've never seen anything like it. And though our huckleberry pancakes turned out less than appealing, they sure tasted great. As did every other bit of our three day trip, from scrambling up the area's highest peak (Lemei Rock at 5,927 feet) to exploring portions of abandoned Pacific Crest Trail.
One for the books, as they say.