This Wild Life ~ Dewey Lake, August 2019

“Promise to stay wild with me.” ~ Victoria Erickson

Dewey Lake, American Lake, Kachess Loop

We have a tradition, of sorts, to meander into the wild at least once a year with our Hendies (Mike’s younger sister and her fam). But, as with most things that involve our children, it’s getting trickier and trickier to hold onto to our wild institutions. My sister-in-law was hoping for a Mt. Rainier destination but when I showed up at the White River Ranger Station at 7 a.m. on Friday morning in hopes of a sweet spot Saturday night, there was only one wilderness group camp left in the whole park that would accommodate us. And although it was in the park, it didn’t offer any views of that big beauty we were reaching for.  The ranger I spoke to recommended we try Dewey Lake instead, just outside the park ( which doesn’t require a permit).  And so – despite the cloudy forecast and our children’s grumblings we packed up and headed that way.

I think its easy to believe that making magic happen is easy for some.  But, the truth is, it’s always work. Nothing truly good is  easy to come by or easy to find.  You just have to decide what’s important to you – and make it happen sometimes.


Our original plan was just to do a one-night – Saturday to Sunday.  But, once the permit gig got squashed and we knew we were heading into Dewey with no guarantee of a camp spot, Mikey and I decided to hustled in Friday night after work with half our clan to see what we could find.
We parked at Chinook Pass and hopped over 410 on the PCT.
And entered into the WILDerness:)
The jaunt into Dewey starts out on the PCT side of the Naches Peak Loop.  The path is pristine and the incline is slight.
We shared our path with the clouds, but with a 6pm start no other humans joined us on this lovely little tread.
At 1.5 miles our pull into the clouds took a sharp left down to Dewey Lake.
Chase was not pleased with the fire restrictions.
Down at Dewey the nebulous mist was so dense we couldn’t see past it’s shores.  We bobbed and weaved our way around the PCT side of the lake (which boasted of beachy lakeside accomodations) trying to find a place to call our own – only to discover that everyone else had as well.  So we shimmied all the way to the end of the lake and took a left on the Dewey Lake trail in hopes of finding something on the other side.
Just before dark we found a cozy little opening in the trees on the far end of the woodsier side of the lake. Figuring it would do at least until morning light, Mike pitched our tents while I boiled water for a late dinner.
A thick brume blew through the trees surrounding us, dousing them with its irriguous entrails and then those tall timbers wept upon us as we huddled in the dark.  Chase and Hadley took to their two-man promptly after dinner.  But, we savored the dank and wild night, sipping on wine and listening to our teenagers chat and laugh in their humble little abode until the wee hours.

At home, we live together.  But, its easy to fill the spaces between with us with others and other things.  Sometimes, it is only out here, in the wild, that kinfolk become comrads – remembering the gifts they have in one another – for life.

At 6 a.m. heavy hooves danced in the lake just outside our forested walls, rousing me from my slumber.
I rolled around in the tent for a bit and then rose to this wonder.
And a light I had been longing for shimmered all around.
I had told our buddies that we would try to find a spot on the PCT side of the lake.  So, just to make sure they could find their way to us, I ran back to where the trail split and ushered them the other way:)
It worked like a charm!
But, by the time the ‘others’ of this wonderful life of ours found their way to us – so had a thick haze.
We all watched it roll across Dewey, hiding Rainier and eventually the light that shone above us as well.
Then we ventured back to camp.
Our Gal Dang Dog rolled in something putrid so Hads gave her bath in the lake.
And then the nine of us laughed…
and chatted around camp.
After hanging for a bit in the chill of the cloud that sat upon us – the grown ups decided to go for a day hike while the big kids bowed out with a smile.
We scurried back across the end of the lake and as soon as we hopped back on the PCT the skies opened up.
Sharing distant views with us along the way.
After four easy miles we dipped down to American Lake and sat on it’s pretty shores enjoying the blue skies above us.
And then we headed back the way we came.
Enjoying the views along the way.
But, when we returned to camp that stubborn cloak of clouds still masked the beauty of Rainier.
With no fires allowed within a half mile of the lake and the haze holding strong we talked of moving camp.
I even ventured down Dewey Lake Trail a bit until I ran into this gal.
But, in the end we decided to stay.
The clouds may have been thick – but the company was good.
And although toasty embers were not allowed – good times were.
So we made our own rules.
And in a world where we get to decide what we do with it all.
We ‘Stepped’ it up.
And made our own incandescence.
I mean, who needs a hearth when you have each other.
As always, before we knew it – the day began to fade.
And that cloudy view, so persistent in its suppression of Rainier’s splendor, lit up all pink.
And we frolicked in its somewhat subdued flushing fanfare.
And then we dined on water resurrected meals of wonder and enjoyed a frivolous little sideshow of our own making.
Somewhere in the dark of night the clouds waved a white flag opening up to clear skies and gifted us a morning of pure glory.
We pack up under brilliant blue skies.
And headed back up to the Naches Peak Loop.
The climb out proved to be a bit more challenging than the descent.
But, once we were up – the trail did not disappoint.
Just as soon as you hop back onto to the loop Mt Rainier booms off in the distance.
Providing a backdrop so beauteous – words cannot suffice.
The park and forest boundaries bob and weave around the loop.  And although there was no signage poo-pooing the pups on the way in – we did see a sign where the loop meets up with Tipsoo in the end banning our furry friends.
But, at this point we didn’t know any better – so we just enjoyed the view.
And kept on keeping on.
And then something wondrous happened!
Suddenly our little loop turned into a wildlife park of grand proportions.
With sideshows all along the way.
We could bear-ly believe our eyes.
This side of the Naches Peak Loop is astounding.  In so many ways.  And I would highly recommend starting at Chinook Pass and ending at Tipsoo.  Mind you, our traipse along the other side was in a magical mist of clouds – but nothing really compares to thing kind of a finale.
Soon our party of 9 met up with 410 once again – where we saw the no dogs sign.
So we dropped our four legged friends and the kids off at the Tipsoo parking lot.
Saving them from the last little climb past Tipsoo and around to the Chinook Pass parking lot where our cars were parked – picking them up on our way back down.

“Promise to stay wild with me.

We’ll seek and return and stay and find beauty and the extraordinary in all the spaces we can claim.  We’ll know how to live. How to breathe magic into the mundane.”

Vicorstia Erickson

We always have a choice. To stay or to linger.  To venture or remain. To see or not to see. To be – or not to be.  

This life we live has all the possibilities of brilliance – no matter where we go or what hovers above us.  Its what’s within and who we are with that matters most.




Day 1 – Chinook Pass to our hidden treasure on Dewey ~ 4 miles

Day 2 – Side trip to American Lake ~ 9 miles round trip

Day 3 – Breaking Camp, climbing out of Dewey and back around to finish the Nachess Loop ~ 4.6 miles

Total ~ 17.6 resplendent miles


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s