Indian Heaven: Tombstone Lake PCT/CCT Loop

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bobcat
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Indian Heaven: Tombstone Lake PCT/CCT Loop

Post by bobcat » October 8th, 2012, 6:34 pm

It looks like a lot of people were up in Indian Heaven this past weekend although I only saw a couple of backpackers and two people on horseback. VanMarmot did this loop last year; the Cascade Crest Trail section was also (I think) the only trail, maintained or unmaintained, that I had not done in Indian Heaven.

I headed up the PCT from Crest Camp. The little lakes on the way, Sheep and Green, are fairly putrid puddles now churned up by elk and horse tracks. I spotted this mountain hemlock convocation: eleven trunks rising from the same spot. I’ve seen this before, but never more than six or seven. I’m assuming these all came up from seeds in a single cone and are probably grafted onto to each other now through their root systems.
Eleven-trunks mountain hemlocks, Indian Heaven.jpg
Red Mountain Lookout and meadow, Pacific Crest Trail, Indian Heaven.jpg
I passed the junction of the CCT with the PCT - a trace through the reddening blueberries. It’s 75 yards south of the PCT - Racetrack Shortcut junction. I continued on up the cinder slopes of Berry Mountain and then along the ridge. There were views south to Mt. Hood and the Red Mountain Lookout. Later, there were views west to St. Helens and down to Basin Lakes, and east to Sleeping Beauty and Mt. Adams. The Cascade Creek Fire was still puffing away in spots, but a pale shadow of its former self.
PCT-CCT junction near Racetrack Shortcut, Indian Heaven.jpg
Rock face, Berry Mountain, Indian Heaven.jpg
View to Gifford Peak from Berry Mt., Indian Heaven .jpg
Mt. St. Helens from Berry Mt., Indian Heaven.jpg
Mt. Adams and Sleeping Beauty from Berry Mt., Indian Heaven.jpg
Before rising up along the east slope of Gifford Peak, I passed the very subtle junction with the Gifford Peak Way, where I came up from my tour of the Basin Lakes last year. The PCT eventually drops to Blue Lake, where I found the Tombstone Lake Trail to descend.
Blue Lake and Gifford Peak, Indian Heaven.jpg
There are some designated campsites here, and the CCT heads up a forested slope from one of them. The trail itself is obvious most of the way since it is often a braided rut just like many of the pathways in Indian Heaven. There is quite a lot of blowdown over the trail, and overhanging berry bushes would make it a drenching and rather miserable experience on a wet day.
Tombstone Lake, Indian Heaven.jpg
Cascade Crest Trail south of Tombstone Lake, Indian Heaven.jpg
The first section from Tombstone Lake goes up and down through shallow gullies and then descends past a large meadow. Even in this dry season, a couple of springs were still running. Soon, I reached another spring, shaded by alders, and then a small meadow which was the site of Spring Camp. The meadow is the front for a second large meadow behind a screen of young noble firs. These grassy, or rather sedgey, areas were gathering spots for shepherds and their flocks in the first part of the 20th century. They would be very boggy in early summer, but dried out by the fall.
Pond, north meadow, CCT, Indian Heaven.jpg
Spring Camp Meadow, CCT, Indian Heaven.jpg
From Spring Camp, the trail rises up the slope and eventually levels to reach the PCT, from which I took the diversion to the Indian Racetrack. The meadows were golden and each was ringed with a colorful skirt of blue/ huckle/ grouseberry bushes. The Racetrack Lake was bone dry, the first time I have seen it such. All in all, though, a warm and fairly easy loop through a slice of new country for me.
Blueberry skirt, Indian Race Track, Indian Heaven.jpg
14.4 miles, 2280’ elevation gain (according to VanMarmot’s GPS)
Last edited by bobcat on October 12th, 2012, 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Peder
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Re: Indian Heaven: Tombstone Lake PCT/CCT Loop

Post by Peder » October 8th, 2012, 7:15 pm

Funny with the "eleven-trunks mountain hemlocks", I remember admiring those last year. I found them quite amazing!

I am no photography expert (I tend to "like" the bad pictures :( ); but your Tombstone Lake picture strikes a cord with me.

Now if Bruce (VanMarmot) would hike a little less, I would be less stressed about all the hikes I need to do!
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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mileagemike25000
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Re: Indian Heaven: Tombstone Lake PCT/CCT Loop

Post by mileagemike25000 » October 8th, 2012, 8:13 pm

Very nice TR! I really like those views from Berry Mt. You've also gotten some nice photos of the Huckleberries changing color! It's actually a very clear day considering the Cascade Creek fire is continuing to burn? :?

Mike

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bobcat
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Re: Indian Heaven: Tombstone Lake PCT/CCT Loop

Post by bobcat » October 9th, 2012, 11:20 am

@Mike: You can't really see it in my photo of Mt. Adams, but the fire was still puffing a bit around the edges, particularly on its northern edge, which would be around the White Salmon drainage. It seems fairly under control now, though, just awaiting the first fall rains.

VanMarmot
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Re: Indian Heaven: Tombstone Lake PCT/CCT Loop

Post by VanMarmot » October 11th, 2012, 3:07 pm

Peder wrote:Funny with the "eleven-trunks mountain hemlocks", I remember admiring those last year. I found them quite amazing!

I am no photography expert (I tend to "like" the bad pictures :( ); but your Tombstone Lake picture strikes a cord with me.

Now if Bruce (VanMarmot) would hike a little less, I would be less stressed about all the hikes I need to do!
Bobcat - Great hike & great pictures. I was going to do the CCT a few weekends back when it was misty/wet in Indian Heaven - but (as you note) plowing through wet foliage didn't work. But on a dry day - magnificent!

Peder - Hike a little less! Blasphemy! Still, I may have taken my new job - with its travel & extra hours - just to give you a chance to catch-up.

- VM

jeanner
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Re: Indian Heaven: Tombstone Lake PCT/CCT Loop

Post by jeanner » October 12th, 2012, 1:30 pm

The picture of Mt Adams and Lemei Rock is actually Sleeping Beauty. great picture though.

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bobcat
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Re: Indian Heaven: Tombstone Lake PCT/CCT Loop

Post by bobcat » October 12th, 2012, 2:44 pm

Yikes! You're absolutely correct! I knew it was Sleeping Beauty when I was hiking, but I got all discombobulated writing the report. Corrections have been made.

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