Heading south. (Still no goats.)
I camped near Snowgrass Flat, which isn't snowy or grassy (Didn't I mention this before?) and isn't great for camping. But it had water.
I like water. Some of my best friends contain significant amounts of water. I especially like it when it stays on the ground and behaves itself.
Day three turned out to be sunny, which is something I like even more than sloshy friends.
I escaped to the up-climbing trail before the other campers were even fully awake, which was good because there was someone under every dome tent. The tents were all dome tents. What's the deal with that?
All REI dome tents too.
On a clear day you can almost see forever, which is about seven miles if you're at sea, but it works. In lumpy country the mountains get in the way. Impressive, but they do spoil the scenery for those brought up on the Plains. But hey. Nice change.
Up higher, things got more interesting. Surprisingly, given the number of people around, few of them spent much time hiking.
Wide open spaces, sun, sky, and pants. I wore pants this time. That was fun too. I'll have to remember that. Fewer bug bites than when wearing shorts all the time.
After a while I came across one of the world's largest cairns.
It was either a cairn or Andy Goldsworthy had been by recently. I should have moved it to the other side of the trail while no one was looking.
But that sounded like work, and the flies might have caught me unawares while my back was turned. I've been there before. No thanks. I already have buzz scars all over from previous lapses of attention.
So then the trail continued, south, toward Mt Adams, which is an unreasonably large hump firmly standing its ground.
Overall, this trail is in grand shape. There are stretches where it's been cut so deeply (probably by horse hoofs) that there are parallel tracks, but aside from that, it's pleasant.
And then I approached the valley that Cispus River inhabits. This is one of my favorite places ever.
Even though I've been there only once before, 13 years earlier.
But you don't forget the good things in life, like empty space between two enormous pieces of landscape.
This sucker is close to half a mile wide, and you can spend all day just trying to spit across it.
If you look closely at the valley's side, in the right light, from the right angle, you can see where elk have been grazing for millennia. They cut their own terraces with their hooves.
This is a thing you learn if brought up in cow country, and pay any attention at all. But elk are more fun to think about.
I didn't see any elk either. No goats, no elk. No deer, no bear (just a small handful of poo). No dragons. No free-range tapeworms.
Though the valley narrows toward its top, like all valleys (all well-behaved valleys) it also opens up, so the view improves.
For example, that little wiggly thing you saw earlier? It's a river, and higher up you can see actual water, and hear it. And get pictures and stuff. Cool.
And then I began to see other hikers. Herds of them. Coming my way.
While waiting to bump into them, I continued pointing the camera every whichway. It began glowing cherry red while humming pleasantly.
Then there was a vigorous waterfall. Surprisingly, this general area was full of streams, even in late August.
A bit of wind the first night, a bit of rain. Fog the next day, and then sun and warmth, plus plenty of water. It doesn't get much better.
Though some established "campsites" can get crowded, there is is enough room for those who know how to fade out of existence around dusk, and who don't mind not having a fire ring or wreaths of used toilet paper in unexpected locations. And there is lots of trail to spread out along.
The trail wisely curves at the pointy end of the valley. Try going too far and you rudely bump into immovable basalt. Basalt has no sense of humor and is likely to drop a hunk of itself on your head if you annoy it. (Word to the wise there.)
Some day, like next year, I'd like to try coming back and exploring more. There is lots of country off the trail.
A day or two later I found an informal trail that led to a hidden lake. Got to get back there. It's on my list.
But out on the main trail there is plenty of drama, at least around here. All you have to do is look for it. Even an average sort of family out for a day or two can seem dramatic.
But out in the Goat Rocks anything can seem dramatic. And since it's National Forest, all you have to do is fill out a tag on the way in and not kill yourself before you leave. Other than that, no one much cares what you do or where you go.
And the higher you go the rockier it gets. In case all those trees begin to give you the creeps after a while.
The climb out of Cispus Valley isn't that bad. It is uphill, but especially if there is a breeze, and cool temperatures, it is lots better than many other trails.
And has views.
Even some trees have their own brands.
And once you're at the pass, you get another view, into the valley of the Klickitat River, which is pretty fine too.
Which is a decent place to have lunch, if you have lunch, and water to go with it, and don't mind sitting in the dirt, a thing that never stopped me.
And after lunch, it's mostly downhill.
With a stop to admire basalt that was able to cool slowly enough to get organized.
There is a whole cliff full of these posts, and they're all there just for the taking. I stuffed about six into my pack before realizing that I'd just upped the weight by roughly 18,724 pounds (too many kilos to think about while remaining at least partly sane.)
The good news is that none of these things is awake, or has legs, and no visible teeth. No worries about being chased hither and yon amongst the landscape and ruining one's digestion.
And then, down a bit, to the right over the ridge, and then there's Mt Adams again.
Mt Adams starts to get in your face about now. It is a supremely accessible mountain, and mellow to walk around (see earlier posts from previous years), due to its fantastic trail and the more-than-fantastic off-trail section on its east side.
The trail curves around east, hops over a ridge, and skirts Walupt Valley.
This is nice too, though the upper end of this valley is boggy. Lots of water here, but mostly impossible to get to with the muck and all.
And then there is the certainty of mosquitoes. And other things living in the water, able to clog filters at first suck, or to overwhelm chemical treatments by sheer numbers.
At one point you get a glimpse of Walupt Lake out west. It's bigger than it seems from the map, but it's a long way down and full of organized campers singing drinking songs all night. So you probably don't want to go there.
Too bad. Bogs are nice, though stand-offish. Especially for those with hammocks. Though I did hop off-trail and take a look. The deal-breaker was access to questionable water that required at least two people, a horse, block and tackle, and a rescue dog.
So I continued walking, descending, and finally found a place far below, near a drippy stream. Not much to brag about, but it worked. End of day three.