The Cherokee called them the Nunne'hi, the Passamaquoddy called It Kci Niwesq, to many Plains tribes they were the Canotili, to the Yakama and many other tribes who frequent the Indian Heaven Wilderness they were all present but not spoken of. The Indian Heaven Wilderness is one of my favorite places on the planet due to the souls which appear to live everywhere within the 20,600 acres. Jules had never been and neither had The Barracuda so we set off to a weekend of backpacking.
You can feel the presence of an "other" within the air between the trees. Perhaps it is the Old Man's Beard which hangs from the limbs and trunks, perhaps it is the fog which lingers or the burls along the gnarled backbones of the trees, but soon after the Lemei Trail crosses into the Indian Heaven Wilderness you realize you are not alone.
The Indian Heaven Wilderness is nestled on the Western slopes of the Cascades, in the shadow of Mt. Adams. It is comprised of dozens of alpine meadows and lakes. There are so many they don't map half of them, you merely discover new ones as you hike around. The entire area is also covered in huckleberry bushes which burst into vibrant flaming colors. We were late in the season, but so was the sun this year so we were able to catch a few frozen huckleberries still on the bushes. These sweet treats didn't escape the local wildlife either. Pristine tracks from elk, deer, and multiple birds were spotted all around the lake.
We ventured to Lake Wapiki and spent the night in the calm alpine air. The rains came and went, along with the fog, but it couldn't deter us from the serenity of undisturbed wilderness. Jules agreed we needed to come back and we see a long day hike coming in the spring. Unfortunately, much of the area is blocked by snow in the winter months and it is a self rescue area. Not necessarily friendly for our adventurous son.
I have no idea if The Barracuda can adequately express reverence for a space quite yet. He will spill out "wow's" and comments like "tonight smells like moon" at the stars. He will spend large amounts of time updating his nature journal with the smallest and most mundane plants as well as the most incredible fungus and rocks. He definitely loves the woods far more than the city. But he has now walked sacred places on both sides of the country as well as in between. Hopefully somewhere in there, an impression has been made.