MAGNIFICENT MOUNTAINS OF THE NORTHWEST
PROBABLY a drive on a circuit which would take in all the national parks, not to mention the monuments, would easily equal the distance around the world. To the marathon motorist anything is possible, and no doubt it would be possible to "tag" each park and monument, drive over its roads and then take to the highway againall within a few months. But the kaleidoscopic memories would be blurred and no one could hope, in so hurried a trip, to reach anything like a true understanding of the national parks or to receive the poignant aesthetic enjoyment and high inspirational uplift which are inherent in the parks.
It is possible, however, to visit a number of national parks on a single summer trip without mental and spiritual indigestion. Indeed, one of the best ways of becoming familiar with the national parks is to visit them in convenient regions.
At Mt. Rainier in 1938, the writer met a businessman and his wife, crowding fifty, who had been spending their vacations for twenty-five years in the national parksonly one or two in a season. When their children were young they brought them along. Now that all were married or settled in their own pursuits, this happy, vigorous couple were having a sort of silver wedding trip. They drove in their car and stopped in the camps where they felt that they could stay as long as they desired. They joined in all the scheduled trips and activities. They knew the flowers and the trees of the western mountains and could compare the qualifications of the ranger naturalists with others they had heard. They were good walkers, and in addition to the guided automobile caravans and hiking trips, they struck out for themselves with the convenient trail maps supplied in the parks. They evidently felt that they were visiting each summer one or two of their fine summer estates, in which their collective ownership made possible excellent facilities for their pleasure and profit. They not only enjoyed the parks they visited; they were discriminatingly appreciative of all they saw on these truly American journeys.
The first region selected for our imaginary journey lies in the extreme northwest corner of the continental United States, where magnificent mountains are as common as blackberries.
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
Our first visit will be made to the Olympic Peninsula, where a national park was created by Congress in June of 1938. The Olympic Peninsula roughly has a hundred-mile frontage on the Pacific Ocean. From the extreme northwest point of Cape Flattery to Port Townsend on the north almost another hundred miles of waterfront lies on Juan de Fuca Strait. The Peninsula is separated from Everett, Seattle, and Tacoma by Puget Sound and the Hood Canal. Projecting eastward from the Pacific Ocean is Grays Harbor, which cuts the Peninsula from the mainland on the South. The Peninsula may be reached by motor road and ferry from Seattle and other western Washington towns. It may be reached from Olympia, the capital of the State, and from Oregon and California by the Olympic Highway which encircles the mountains.
Within this modern highway lies one of the most interesting and alluring wilderness mountain-and-valley areas remaining in this country. Ben Thompson, writing in Planning and Civic Comment, described this enchanted land: "Almost rimmed with the mills and smoke and noise of Puget Sound's industrial communities, it is still a wild land. Dark and jungle-like forests cover the lowlands and extend far up the narrow river bottoms. Successions of steep ridges under shaggy forest robes reach up to the central mass of tossed and jumbled peaks. On clear days its snowy crests stand out white and silent.
"Each summer, meadows of wild flowers creep up the slopes after the receding snow, while down in the lowlands a cougar stalks the river trail, leaving the tracks of his soft pads in the mud. In autumn, elk bugle through the woods, while the mountain beavers, high on the hillside, survey the coming of winter. Then snow settles down on the mountains, rain drenches the lowlands, and it is again an island of solitude."
John Muir first saw Mt. Olympus from the deck of a boat some fifteen miles south en route to Alaska in 1879. Again in 1890, from the same vantage point, he remarked: "The sail to Port Townsend is very interesting on account of the beauty and grandeur of the scenery, especially of the Olympic Mountains, which rise to eight thousand feet above the blue waters, with picturesquely sculptured summits and long withdrawing slopes heavily clad with spruce and fir." These mountains do, indeed, present to the eye from certain high lookouts a dramatic skyline, but one traveling on the Olympic Highway would have no idea of the beauty hidden with in the charmed circle of the interior of the ring road, for this highway passes through many sad cut-over regions, patches of second growth, and occasionally into virgin forests; it is so located that the interior mountains can seldom be seen.
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
The Peninsula was almost entirely covered with dense forests at one time, except where the high craggy peaks emerged above the timber line. Once it was a veritable lumberman's paradise. Muir remarked in one of his journal entries that many of the Sierra forests had remained intact because it was easier to bring timber a thousand miles by water from the Northwest than fifty miles from the California mountains. At any rate, 130 years after the Lewis and Clark Expedition into the Northwest, such vast areas of forest have been cut that the remaining stands in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula have achieved a scarcity value and become so unique as to qualify for national-park status.
It is now thirty-five years since a bill almost passed Congress to create the Elk National Park on the Olympic Peninsula "for the purpose of preserving the elk, game, fish, birds, animals, timber and curiosities therein." The bill, introduced in 1904, passed the House and failed in the Senate during the last hours of the session. Bills to create a game preserve failed in 1906 and 1908. Finally, in the closing days of his administration, President Theodore Roosevelt set aside the Mt. Olympus National Monument of something over 600,000 acres. In the meantime, the forest reserves were transferred from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Agriculture; in 1907 the name was changed to national forests. The elk were protected by state law, according to an account by Dr. Theodore Palmer in Civic Comment: "For a quarter of a century the dual arrangement continued under which the elk were protected by the state law, while the range was protected by the National Monument act as administered by the Forest Service."
In 1916, President Wilson, on the recommendation of the Forest Service, in an effort to provide timber for ship-building to win the war, by Executive Order reduced the Monument to less than half its original size. Then in 1933 came two more changes. Under a new state game law, the Game Commission of Washington authorized an open season on elk for six days and killing was permitted for the first time since 1905. It was in this year, too, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt by Executive Order transferred the Mt. Olympus National Monument, along with other national monuments, from the jurisdiction of the U. S. Forest Service to that of the National Park Service. No hunting is permitted in national monuments, but the protection of the high winter range for the elk was not enough. The movement to create a national park was revived. In the meantime each year more people were hiking or packing into the interior wilderness, and they wanted to see the area made into a national park. As might have been expected, perhaps, there was bitter opposition to enlarging the national monument to national-park proportions, and thus taking land from the economic uses permitted in national forests.
In American Forests for June, 1936, John B. Yeon presented the case for the park. The plan of the Forest Service, Mr. Yeon declared, "in accordance with the basic provisions of national forest legislation, has given prior consideration to the economic utilization of the timber. Preservation has been designated only where it does not materially interfere with the conversion of the forest into lumber. The areas reserved are for the most part economically worthless." On the other hand, "the plan for the Olympics advocated by the Park Service aims to add a solid block of forest to the solid reservation of the existing monument and incorporate both in the national park." This in contrast to the fingers of forest open for harvesting proposed by the Forest Service. Mr. Yeon continued: "This plan (of the Park Service) in accordance with the basic provisions of national park legislation gives prior consideration to the preservation of the area's natural geographic and biotic features. The scenic, recreational, educational and inspirational resources of the region, and the requirements for their use and protection without depletion, are the factors which have shaped the program. The application of this plan would result in the permanent survival of an unmodified forest on a scale commensurate with the mountains it covers and with the giant individual specimens it contains. It would save a forest landscape and not merely samples of trees. The natural aspect of the area would remain intactthe original horizons as well as foregrounds and the infinite details which compose the whole."
Mr. Yeon warned us that "The forests of the Olympics will not be commonplace again. No other large area in this zone will probably ever be held undisturbed for the five centuries required for such a forest to mature. If this were done, however, and every trace of modification eventually eroded or rotted away, this future forest would still be different in historic and scientific category from the one still flourishing in the Olympics today. Here is the culmination of an incalculably old growth process, far older, perhaps, than the combined age of all its living trees. The present forest has an ancient lineage; it is in the line of direct descent from the first plant forms growing in the earliest Olympic soils. The thrilling succession from the infinite which cannot be returned once continuity has been severed is a real but intangible attribute which will be effaced from this area once it is disturbed and absent forever from subsequent forests of modern origins."
Fortunately, the fight was won for scenic and inspirational values when the Wallgren Bill of 1938 became a law establishing a defined national park of 634,000 acres, with authority to the President to add lands until the national park may include 892,292 acres. In this Olympic National Park, we find then, as described by John Yeon in 1936: "The forested valleys and canyons, in conjunction with the adjacent Alpine regions, result in a combination which enhances the interest of all features beyond what the component parts would, if isolated, possess in themselves. The area is surrounded on three sides . . . by salt water. It is almost an islanda miniature continent in itself. Within this area, rivers have their source and major being before their confluence with the ocean. The circuit of moisture, lifting from the sea, detained in glaciers, and flowing through streams and rivers back to the sea, is complete, like a diagrammatic functioning model of the workings of earth forces, and almost within the range of observation from a single vantage point."
Secretary Ickes has publicly pledged the Department of the Interior to the preservation of this wilderness area. There will be no roads into the interior. But that does not mean that visitors may not see the mountains and the forested valleys to advantage. The headquarters of the National Park Service, instead of being in the park, will be built on forty acres of land, adjoining Port Angeles, given to the Park Service by Clallam County. From Port Angeles travelers may drive out to some of the idyllic inns on the shores of Crescent Lake, or they may stay at the settlements at Sol Duc or Olympic Springs, from where the northern valleys may be explored. The rather rough road along Hurricane Ridge will undoubtedly be improved, and perhaps extended. From the ridge may be seen Mt. Olympus, with its blue glacier and the galaxy of snowy peaks around it. From the Olympic Highway on the East a road leads up the Hoh Valley to Jackson. From here one may walk as far up the valley as strength and inclination permit, remembering always that the very essence of the Hoh forests is their isolation from highways and motor traffic. In the Hoh are some of the largest Douglas firs in existence. One named for Colonel Graves will some day be a fitting monument to a former Chief Forester who has rendered to the country a fine service in vision and educational leadership.
Visitors may stop at the hotel at Lake Quinault at the southeastern corner of the park. They may drive up to Graves Creek Inn in the southern part of the park, though their hearts may be saddened by the cut-over lands which border the road and by the constant stream of trucks bearing giant firs to market. From Graves Creek Inn visitors may drive a short distance to the Quinault River where the road now ends, and let us hope, where it will always end. There is a high-hung foot and horse bridge across the Quinault at this point, and visitors should by all means walk across it. The banks of the river are almost perpendicular and the rocks are padded and tufted with delicate maidenhair ferns. A lovelier fern exhibit could not be imagined. As the trail traverses the stream up the valley, many of the misshapen trees are seen to be covered with green moss, which gives the region an unearthly aspect and justifies the name "Enchanted Valley." Just north of the old Monument line, about eleven miles from Graves Creek Inn, is an inn to which all food and supplies must be brought by pack train. From the Enchanted Valley one may ride horseback (or walk) across Anderson Pass and out along the Dosewallips to reach a highway which intersects the Olympic Highway on the east side of the park. Or the trip may be made in reverse action.
At the southeast corner the access road will probably be extended to the head of Lake Cushman.
One especially interesting pack trip may be made from Sol Duc Springs, and along the Bogachiel ridge to the ranger station on the top of Bogachiel by way of Seven-lake Basin. Often on the snow banks elk may be seen resting in the lazy summer afternoons. A trail from Bogachiel leads to the Blue Glacier on Mt. Olympus. There is also a trail down the south side of the mountain into the Hoh Valley far below. For this ride down the switchbacks from the ranger station to the floor of the valley more than a mile lower in altitude, one needs good knees, for the steady pressure to hold the saddle for two or three hours, with never a step up, but always down, is a little trying on the "tenderfoot." Once in the upper Hoh Valley, no matter how tired, the traveler is so consumed with admiration for the lofty and aged Douglas firs and other forest masterpieces that weariness is soon forgotten.
There are many trails and trips over the High Divide, the Low Divide, and up the Queets. Of course there is much rain on the Peninsula, particularly on the west side, and many of the pack-train parties are overtaken by rain, but the mountain clubs of the Northwest continue to hike and ride into these delectable mountains, and the American Forestry Association has annually, in recent years, scheduled popular pack-train trips into the Olympics.
Without roads which will cross the heart of this fine national park, but with half a dozen or more access roads which will bring visitors to points where they may find comfortable accommodations and with comparatively short walks see some part of the forested valleys, with one high ride on Hurricane Ridge from which the whole range may be seen, there will be ample facilities for the motorist to see and enjoy the park without ruining its wilderness character. And the park will be increasingly popular for the sturdy hiker and the untiring horseback rider. Riding along in an automobile or walking along the trails in the valleys, besides all the small, scampering animals, one may frequently see coveys of grouse, with their quail-like waddle, glide away into the forest, and occasionally, as a special treat, one may watch the stately iridescent pheasants, with their brilliant hues, walk in solemn procession across the stage with its dark evergreen drops.
Now that the long-standing controversies about the future of the heart of the Olympics are settled and the shouting and the tumult have died, we, the people, may well picture to ourselves the kingdom which we have inherited. William Harrison Peters, in April, 1936, American Forests gave us some unforgettable word sketches: "Beginning at the salt water where the Pacific roars against the rugged coast, and at the sparkling blue of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Hood Canal, these wonderful forests climb to an elevation of 4,000 feet above the sea. They completely encircle the Olympic Mountains, a green unbroken belt fifty miles wide and more than 200 miles in circumference. Inside, and above the inner circumference of this sloping belt of rugged, timber-covered foot-hills, Mt. Olympus rears its peak of basalt and ice 8,000 feet above the surrounding seas.
"Between the belt of dense forest growth and the snow and ice of the high peaks, lies an area of delectable open meadows, grass covered, dotted with alpine lakes and spotted with clumps of mountain hemlock, alpine fir and an occasional Alaska cedar.
"From the glacier-covered peaks of the Olympics pour scores of streams. Born in clear mountain springs or tiny glacial lakes, they join to form brawling creeks which unite to send wide rivers flowing quietly through forest-covered valleys to the sea. These streams abound in fish, and the river valleys, broad and flat, shelter great herds of Roosevelt elk. The mountain ridges furnish sanctuary and browse for many deer; bears are plentiful. Grouse and pheasant occur in all parts of the region.
"During the summer months, the area at timberline is a carpet of alpine flowers. There are asters, violets, gentians, phlox, blue bell, hellebore, avalanche lily, Erythronium parviflorum, a sturdy flower that in early spring pushes through the receding snow drifts to bloom, a dozen varieties of the sedum, the 'hen and chicks' and 'stonecrop' of the natives, vermilion Indian paintbrush, and dozens of others of equal beauty and interest."
Major Owen A. Tomlinson in 1937, in the American Planning and Civic Annual gave a fine description of the Olympics: "Burdened with glistening and still active glaciers, never completely explored, the snowy white of the taller peaks contrasts with the luxuriant verdure of their evergreen slopes. The region surpasses in massive grandeur many more famous but less beautiful tourist territories. . . . Moulded by glaciation in a period approximated at some 20,000 years ago, the resultant spectacular topography is a marvel of distinctive, rugged and isolated domain, with many peaks unnamed and unclimbed."
The Sitka spruce, one of the great tree species, is preserved in the Olympic National Park; also Douglas fir, Western red cedar, and the smaller white fir and hemlock, "with age-old coatings of moss, hanging heavily to soften the solid contours of the branches." "Heavy tropic-like vegetationthe forest within a forestdisappears miraculously, leaving only huge trunked forest monarchs, then as suddenly reappears. Elsewhere, ferns carpet the trail and forest floor. Heavy-reeded waterways break suddenly into broad, pebbled expanses."
Surely future generations will rise up and call blessed this generation which acted before it was too late to save these pedigreed forests of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, Alaska cedar and hemlock!
From the Olympic Peninsula visitors may easily go to Mt. Rainier, which has been a national park since 1899. It required considerable foresight to set aside Mt. Rainier as a national park forty years ago, looking forward from that year; but looking back from this year, we now know that so stupendous a mountain required a larger rim of protection. In 1931 the eastern boundary was extended to the summit of the Cascade Range and fifty odd square miles were added to the 325 square miles already in the park. The park is roughly in the form of a square with the mountain peak, 14,408 feet high, a little to the left of the center, and its glaciers radiating out in some places to points only three or four miles within the boundaries.
One may enter the park by highway from the southwest corner by the Nisqually River entrance, and drive by way of Longmire Springs, where the National Park Service has its headquarters office, to Paradise Valley, high on the slopes of the mountain. At Longmire there is quite a settlement, including a museum, an inn, a public camp, store, cafeteria, gasoline station, and post office.
It is here that Major Tomlinson has presided for enough years to make his name synonymous with Rainier. The Major is a quiet, retiring ex-army officer. He is thoroughly imbued with the Mather national-park ideals, and he knows the Washington mountains like a book.
The road to Paradise Valley passes close to the Nisqually Glacier. For many years this road was a single, one-way controlled highway on which travel was permitted only at certain hours; but now it is possible to use the widened improved highway at pleasure. At Paradise there is also a settlement, including an inn, a lodge, cabins, public camps beautifully situated, store, gasoline station, post office and community house where nightly lectures are given.
One may enter the northwest corner of the park by the Carbon River Road and find a ranger station and public campgrounds. On the east side of the park there is a very beautiful highway, called the Mather Memorial Parkway, which gives access to the Yakima Park section of the park both from the north and from the southeast. As this parkway comes through the gate, at a lookout within the park, there is an unforgettable view of Rainier which is more breath-taking than any to be seen from other vantage points. The afternoon sun on the icy mantle of Rainier gives the effect of a crystal-studded garment, faceted to catch every ray of light. At Yakima Park there are to be found cabins, cafeteria, camp (especially well located), and other facilities, including a picturesque campfire and amphitheatre which is well patronized when the park rangers give illustrated talks each evening during the summer months.
There is an entrance at the southeast corner to the Ohanapecosh Ranger Station, where there are a lodge, cabins, camp, and hot baths.
PARADISE VALLEY, MT. RAINIER
The ascent of Mt. Rainier is only for the hardy. Though the mountain was first seen and named by Captain George Vancouver, of the British Royal Navy, in 1792, it was not until 1870 that its summit was reached. In that year two successful ascents were made, but it was not until 1883 that the summit was reached for the third time. Today, of course, ascents are quite common, but except for experienced mountaineers, would-be climbers must take guides with them. The National Park Service, in its pamphlet on the park, has stated plainly that "Mount Rainier is a difficult peak to climb. The route to the summit is not a definitely marked path. Dangerously crevassed ice covers a large proportion of the mountain's flanks, and the steep ridges between glaciers are composed of treacherous crumbling lava and pumice. Weather on the mountain is fickle. Midsummer snow storms, always accompanied by fierce gales, rise with unexpected suddenness." All these obstacles, of course, make the ascent all the more exciting and desirable to those who do take the trip, and one of the special lures of the park is the climbing of Mt. Rainier.
The park offers many interesting trips for those who do not attempt to scale the summit. There are five access highways through four main entrances, with less than sixty miles of highway in the entire park. But there are 240 miles of trails leading through and to some of the most charming high country in the park system. From the Nisqually entrance there is an excellent highway, within the boundaries of the park, leading north some fifteen miles to Klapatche Park. From this highway trails lead to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground, where there is a gorgeous display of wild flowers in the summer months. A trail skirts the Tahoma Glacier, and another leads to the Payallup Glacier.
There are innumerable walking and riding trips from Paradise Valley. It is an easy walk up to the Muir Shelter Cabin, where the mountaineers who expect to scale the summit spend the early hours of the night, before they start on their chilly, early-morning climb hoping to see the sunrise from the top. Muir Shelter, which is at the 10,000-foot elevation, is some 4,500 feet above Paradise, but the climb requires no special skill, although those who have not the "wind and the limb" may secure horses, and ride. There are excellent views all along the trail, and a feeling of having reached the snowy heights at Camp Muir. Leading out from Paradise there is a regular network of trails on which may be seen any summer day literally hundreds of people, young and old, climbing vigorously or sauntering along at their free will, enjoying the fine views and the exercise in the high, clear air.
On the guided trips, the glaciers are explained, the flowers and trees identified. Anyone who takes all the guided trips and who travels all the mapped trails on foot or horseback will certainly become well informed about the geology, flora and fauna of the park and have excellent opportunities for aesthetic enjoyment, to be found in few places in the world.
Running entirely around the mountain is the Wonderland Trail, which, with its various ramifications, is from a hundred to a hundred and forty miles in the circuit. Hikers, by carrying sleeping bag and food, can make a shelter each night, and so in a week or ten days the mountain can be seen from the highlands from every angle and the lower end of every glacier can be examined. The trail from Sunrise (Yakima Park) to Paradise is full of surprises. It runs along Frying Pan Creek to Summerland, where the wild flowers flourish, cutting across the Frying Pan Glacier and skirting the Ohanapecosh Glacier, past Indian Bar Shelter to the Nickel Creek Ranger Station and across the spectacular Canyon Bridge where, because of the great depth below and the roar of the falling water, riders are asked to dismount; up Stevens Creek past Louise Lake and Nerada Falls to the Paradise Highway. In July there is usually heavy snow on the passes and covering the Frying Pan Glacier, which lies far below. When the writer made the journey, the ranger at Nickel Creek had placed little red flags over the several miles of snow to indicate the safe places for the horses' feet. While one is not as near the summit of Rainier in crossing the Frying Pan Glacier as at Muir Shelter Cabin on the Paradise side, one feels nearer the mountain tops of everlasting snow, because as far as the eye can reach there is nothing but the shining whiteness of the snow and ice in sight. For the "wilderness feeling," this two-day hiking or riding trip cannot easily be matched.
Rainier National Park gives adequate access roads to the motorists, who, with a moderate amount of walking, may see and enjoy the mountain. But its real glory is seen from the trails, short and long, provided for hikers and riders. The number that annually take advantage of the trail facilities is an evidence that the American public is becoming "trail minded" and relearning the use of the human body for walking purposes!
Time was when Rainier closed up shop in winter. Not so today. Since skiing has taken this country by a storm as unaccountable as the black tulip craze in Holland, no snow field is complete without its amateur skiers, no fiction magazine without its ski story, no outdoor periodical without its article on skiing and skiing equipment. The sports shops of the United States which a few years ago were barren of any sort of ski equipment are now well stocked and apparently selling their stock. Rainier is one of the famous skiing places in the United States. Even in the dead of winter when cars can only be driven to a point a mile and a half below Paradise Inn, the Inn is kept open and the ski enthusiasts cheerfully pad up the mountain to claim their accommodations. Fortunately for those who love scenery, skiing does no damage to the summer scenery and provides an exciting and absorbing winter sport. Conservationists generally, however, discourage any sort of paraphernalia to haul the happy skiers up the mountain which will leave a permanent scar on natural scenery.
Mt. Rainier is unique. It has, according to Frank Brockman, writing in American Forests, "upon its broad flanks the largest glacial system in the continental United States, exclusive of Alaska. Twenty-eight glaciers comprise this great system, forming an ice mantle nearly fifty square miles in area and covering thirteen per cent of the total area of Mount Rainier National Park." For scientific research, for summit-scaling, for skiing, for aesthetic enjoyment, for trail-tripping, and for inspirational contemplation, Mt. Rainier is a first-rate mountain.
One may easily travel from Mt. Rainier to Crater Lake by way of Portland, then south to Medford and 80 miles along the Rogue River road into the park, or from Portland to Bend, Oregon, and 106 miles south to the park, with perhaps a detour to Diamond Lake. From the south one may enter from Klamath, either by the Klamath Highway or the Pinnacles Road. Rail and stage travel offer direct and convenient arrangements and, as there is a landing field at Medford, it is possible to hop from New York or Los Angeles with time-annihilating speed.
To state that the lake is six miles wide, 2,000 feet deep, with a circular shore line of 26 miles, that this vast volume of water depends upon precipitation into the giant bowl left from an exploding volcano, which is now preserved in a park covering 250 square miles, can give no faint suggestion of the beauty of Crater Lake. With all the lakes there are in the world and all the poetic phrases which have been used to describe them, it would seem that one little six-mile lake in the Cascades might not deserve much in the way of superlatives. There are different kinds of lake beauty and surroundings, and one would not want to miss the lovely mountain beauty of the Sierra lakes and meadows, nor the broad expanse of tree-fringed Tahoe, nor the severely chaste glacial lakes of Glacier National Park, nor the rugged isolation of Yellowstone Lake, lying high on the top of the continent, nor the shining necklace of glacial lakes at the foot of the Tetons. They all have beauties of their own. But the deep opalescent blue of Crater Lake is like some ethereal light borrowed from the skies. The ancients would have called it a creation of the gods. No one can look upon it and not be moved emotionally and spiritually. The setting of the highly painted lava cliffs gives it the appearance of some new gem more lovely than the sapphire set in some new combination of metals never before seen. The changing hues give it different aspects during the passing hours of the day from dawn to sunset. On rainy, cloudy days, the color is wiped out of the lake as though a palette knife had scraped off every bit of pigment and the secret of its beauty lost forever. Then the sunlight returns and the painting is again a work of rare genius, not to be understood but to be worshipped as an unduplicatable masterpiece of Nature.
From the rim drive one is led from one ecstasy to another. There is the view across the little lake of pure cerulean blue, with glimpses of Wizard Island casting its reflections in the mirror of the lake and of the Phantom Ship, sometimes appearing in full sail and sometimes suddenly disappearing with the change of lights. Early in the summer, when the snowplows have left high walls of snow and ice at the side of the road, the rim drive gives a nice feeling of remoteness.
The Indians had legends about the lake. One concerns Llao Rock, which rises nearly 2,000 feet above the lake level. As related in the national park bulletin on Crater Lake, according to the legends of the Klamath and Modoc Indians, "the mystic land of the Gaywas was the home of the great god Llao. His throne in the infinite depths of the blue waters was surrounded by giant crawfish, his warriors, who were able to lift great claws out of the water and seize too venturesome enemies on the cliff tops. War broke out with Skell, the god of the neighboring Klamath marshes. Skell was captured and his heart used for a ball by Llao's monsters. But an eagle, one of Skell's servants, captured it in flight, and a coyote, another of Skell's servants, escaped with it; and Skell's body grew again around his living heart. Once more he was powerful and once more he waged war against the god of the lake. Then Llao was captured; but he was not so fortunate. Upon the highest cliff his body was quartered and cast into the lake and eaten by his own monsters under the belief that it was Skell's body. But when Llao's head was thrown in, the monsters recognized it and would not eat it. Llao's head still lies in the lake, and white men call it Wizard Island. The cliff where Llao was quartered is named Llao Rock."
Crater Lake was discovered at least three times in the fifties and sixties before it received its present name in 1869. Following a trip to Crater Lake in 1885 by William Gladstone Steel, Professor Joseph Le Conte, and others, President Cleveland in 1886 issued a proclamation withdrawing ten townships, including Crater Lake, from settlement. Crater Lake National Park was created by Congress and approved by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902.
In this national park, which contains one of the most beautiful single objects in the whole system and one which depends for its appreciation on its emotional and spiritual appeal, it is curious that the scientific information is the most complete. The Sinnott Memorial, which was constructed of native stone on Victor Rock, just inside the rim of the crater, offers a fine balcony from which to examine the lake and its surroundings. Through the means of high-powered field glasses, visitors are enabled to see "close-ups" of the walls of the lake and read in the legends at the glass of the geological history and present composition of each feature of the landscape. The large relief map of the Crater Lake Region receives a great deal of interested attention from visitors. Carefully prepared displays are on view in the exhibit room. The interpretation of science here has been managed with a great deal of skill and has been kept simple enough not to leave the visitors with scientific indigestion.
Crater Lake has, in common with the rest of the Southern Cascades, a wide variety of wild flowers. Over 500 flowering plants and ferns are listed. Many of these may be found in the Castle Crest Wild Flower Garden, near the National Park Headquarters, three miles from the rim. One of the attractions of the park is found in the brilliantly hued flowers. In the open sunny spaces the flaming fireweed, which flourishes in most of the western parks, reaches a climax of burning glory. The principal trees are ponderosa pines, mountain hemlock, a variety of pines, Shasta red fir, Engelmann spruce, and Douglas fir. Oaks, cottonwoods, and aspens give fresh young green to the spring and brilliant foliage to the autumn.
In spite of the highways and crowds of people coming into the park, many regions are wild enough to give cover to the smaller wild animalsdeer, elk, bear, marmots, conies, minks, weasels, martens, beavers, badgers, porcupines, flying squirrels, and many others. In addition to the smaller birds there are to be found falcons, ospreys, golden and bald eagles, and horned owls.
Fish were planted in Crater Lake fifty years ago, and today the lake teems with rainbow and steelhead trout.
There are many interesting activities at Crater Lake. There is the camera hike for camera fans. There is the boat trip to Wizard Island, made by most visitors, and many like to go out in row-boats both by daylight and in the moonlight, when the mysterious lake, with its floating islands and its darkly shadowed cliffs, presents a scene of unutterable beauty.
It was at Crater Lake that the first annual ski races were held, and there is a permanent Crater Lake Ski Club. Since 1935 the roads have been kept clear of snow and the park has been open throughout the winter.
According to David Canfield, "the beauty of the park in winter . . . is in many respects, unequalled. The crowning spectacle, of course, is Crater Lake with its indescribable blue, nestling in a circle of high white-robed cliffs. The heavily burdened conifers with their magnificent mantles of snow are a never-ending delight; the fantastic curves and snow masses of the smaller trees cause one to marvel at the artistry of nature. The drifts offer mute testimony to the force and vagaries of the wind."
Either entering or departing, or as a loop trip, every park visitor should drive along the Pinnacles Road and see the peculiar formations in Wheeler Creek Canyon.
One should at least see the clock round at Crater Lake, and a longer stay would allow for interesting explorations and, even more important, for seeing the changing colors of the lake and its surroundings.
THE WILDERNESS WAY IN THE CASCADES
A project which has appealed to the imagination of the lovers of wilderness and mountain climbing has been fostered by Clinton Churchill Clarke, of Pasadena, California, in the Pacific Crest Trail, which, by linking together many existing trails, now runs from the Canadian line to Mexico, a total distance of 2,300 miles, of which all but 175 miles is within the borders of twenty national forests and five national parks. Eight hundred and fifty miles of the Pacific Crest Trail lie within the mountains of the Northwest. Robert Foote, writing in American Forests, has explained that the first 450 miles comprise the Cascade Crest Trail which "runs south through the most primitive and unexplored region in the United States. The Cascade Range, of Washington, is broken into heavily timbered gorges and ice-streaked ridges, above which rise mighty glacier peaks. To cover this trail requires forty or more days of hard tramping, over twenty-two mountain passes and around five glacier peaks and Mt. Rainier National Park. The Cascade Crest runs entirely through wilderness except for small recreation centers near Mt. Baker, Keechelus Lake and Mt. Rainier Park.
"In Oregon the Cascades are more gentle than in Washington, and the Oregon Skyline is not so difficult, is generally in better condition and well marked, crossing only four passes. Nevertheless, this 410 miles requires thirty-eight days of foot travel. The three outstanding peaks to be passed, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and the Three Sisters, are strongly glacial though not entirely blanketed as is the case farther north. But in Oregon, the trail keeps to a higher average elevation than in Washington. Crater Lake National Park is an outstanding scenic area on this trail."
Considering that there still remains a most spectacular wilderness area in the United States in the Northern Cascades, and that the national parks as yet can claim only a little over 500 square miles in Rainier and Crater Lake, it is the opinion of many that a substantial Cascades National Park should be set aside for the pleasure and inspiration of the people of the United States. No mountain could be more impressive, perhaps, than Mt. Rainier, but Baker and Shuksan are not only stupendous in their scenic aspects, but they have a special personality.
Across the Skagit River lies a larger and even more remote region of glacial peaks, crests, and sharp cut valleys with turbulent streams and waterfalls, which will undoubtedly one day be brought into the national parksnot for development, but for preservation, and to provide more of that climax wilderness country which we are coming to demand for our civilization. No one who has ever walked or packed into this region could forget Lake Hart and Lake Lyman, lying in the shadow of the glacier-streaked peaks which are reflected in the glistening glass of their quiet waters, or the milky glacial waters of the Stehekin River, the heavenly blue of the gentians on Cloudy Pass, the marvelous views from Cascade Pass toward the Pacific, with the rugged crests of Mt. Magic like a fairy picture within a scene to the left, and endless crests on either side running toward the horizon beyond which are hidden. Baker and Shuksan in a new climax. The roar of avalanches from the hanging glaciers, the calm of the capping glaciers, the quiet of the air where few birds sing, the rushing waters of the many streams, the rustling of the pines and spruces and cedars, the pungent scents of the virgin woods, the small filmy ferns, the tall coarse devil's walking canes, the fine ground cover of Oregon grape and mountain boxwood, with innumerable little flowersall this and infinitely more will be the reward of those who travel by the trails of the Northern Cascades.
Hermann Ulrichs, writing in the February, 1937, Sierra Club Bulletin, has referred to the Northern Cascade section as the "last great stronghold of almost completely untouched primeval wilderness in the United States." He there maintained that "it will be regarded as the most spectacular, varied and truly Alpine of all our mountains." In amplification, Mr. Ulrichs drew an entrancing picture: "Wherever the climber goes, he is sure to see in some direction, one, if not several, of these solitary sentinels, often floating like a vision or mirage above the lower mists, strangely unreal and ethereal, and by their loftiness dwarfing the surrounding country. . . .
"It would be hard to imagine a more striking and felicitous contrast than that between this idyllic, really Arcadian country, of intimate beauty and delicacy, and the almost savage ruggedness and grandeur of the big peaks, the deep valleys far below, and the magnificent panoramas of distant snowy ranges glowing in the soft light."
IN THE NORTHERN CASCADES
Last Updated: 18-Nov-2009