September 12, 2010
We did this as a day hike from Box Canyon (on the Wonderland Trail) to Indian Bar. It made for a long day but a good one - we hiked 14-1/2 miles round trip and gained 4,850 feet of elevation.
The first few miles along the Cowlitz Divide on the Wonderland Trail are mostly in the forest, no big views unless you enjoy looking at big evergreens like we do. There are some giants! The Wonderland trail transitions to meadows as it climbs to the first of several "high points" - on a clear day there would be views of Mount Rainier. Today we admired corn lilies (hellebore) as their green leaves transitioned to gold.
The last few miles of that stretch of The Wonderland Trail are along an undulating ridge with views on both sides. Views of what? Tarns, outcroppings, hints of other peaks hard to define in the mist and clouds. That part of the trail is heavy on meadows and everywhere you look you want to stop and take photos (we did).
Of course, every time we reached the top of another meadowy knoll we thought we'd see Indian Bar in the distance. We began to wonder if Indian Bar even existed but the terrain was beautiful enough that we were under its spell and kept on hiking.
Finally the rock shelter came into view below us at the edge of a meadow near the start of the Ohanapecosh River. We had it to ourselves, there was no one there. I'd only been there once before, a long, long time ago. It must have been about 25 years ago!!
We lingered as long as we could - we didn't want to hurry back or race the darkness. Neither words nor photographs (perhaps poetry?) can do justice to this magical place. It almost breaks your heart to leave and you cannot help but wonder as you climb away - will I see Indian Bar again?
I certainly hope so!