Taming of the Memaloose

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Next stop in our series of mini-adventures is a weekend father & son backpacking jaunt to Memaloose Lake. I had to google "memaloose" to find it's an Indian word meaning "to die". We decided a Memaloose must be a salamander, since Memaloose Lake was chock full of them.

After driving about 30 minutes east and uphill from Estacada, we hit the trail early Friday evening for the 1.4 mile hike to the lake. I had high hopes for this second attempt to take #1 son backpacking. Our first overnight hike last October was a fiasco--after setting up camp in the dark near Bead Lake in northern Idaho, an enormous number of huge harvestman spiders (think big daddy long legs) joined us for dinner. My boy freaked out as the spiders crawled all over everything, and some even managed to get into the tent. Eventually I heard through his hysterics that he really wanted to leave (really?), so we packed up and hiked out in the dark.

No scenes from Arachnophobia this time, just a lovely walk through the woods.

See the little trees growing out of the log? For those of you who read last week's post, yes, there is a pattern here. Vern thinks trees growing out of logs are cool. He's easily amused.

The wild rhodies gave the entire hike an exotic feel. Long-time Oregon hikers may say, "ya, so what, more rhodies". To me, they're another sign of paradise. My book says they grow all over the place in the Cascades where it's high enough for the snowpack to protect them from winter kill. I can't wait to hike some of these trails next June when they're bursting with pink blooms.

Early Saturday morning we hiked above the lake on the South Fork Mountain trail, hoping for panoramic views of several high Cascade peaks. Haze to the north hid St. Helens, Adams and Rainier, but we took in great views of Mts. Hood and Jefferson. (Next on the Cascade agenda: a serious hike in the Mt. Hood wilderness. Bring it on!)

Back at the lake we communed with salamanders. There must have been hundreds of them, lazily floating and chillin' out near the muddy shore. If you've never seen an eight-year-old boy play with salamanders, you're missing out.

As for me, I couldn't get enough of the scenery at this gorgeous little lake.

My son gives the lake high marks on the salamander factor alone. If you're looking for an easy hike in beautiful country, where the kids can frolic with mud-colored amphibians, look no further than Memaloose Lake.


Annalea said...

Wow. I need o sit down and check out the rest of the photos from the trip. Better yet, maybe I'll take a trip out there myself . . . .

Will Thomas said...

Looks like an enjoyable trip! I had no idea we had salamaders here in the NW until I came across one this weekend as well. I think I was as excited as your boy!

Ryan said...

That looks like a beautiful hike. Make me long for cooler, greener climes. We have a lot of green here, but one can only take so much "Oak Leaf Green." Tell Son #1 that I'm jealous of his salamander experience. I would've been in heaven at his age in such a place. I'd still be in heaven in such a place now. :)

Jo said...

Hey Vern, it's your cousin, Jolene. I decided to look for our family on the blogs and found yours. It's good to be able to read about your family since that's about as good as I get when it comes to keeping in touch.

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