Paradise Creek, WA 8/19/06
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Back with the dogs, this time at Paradise Creek in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, SW Washington. This is a heavily forested place, with lots of little streams and trails to follow. It’s gorgeous.

Even though it was the middle of August, the campground wasn’t completely full. We’d heard this was a good place to go because you can usually find a spot, even in the peak of camping season. There were still enough people, though, to keep the dogs on edge and not many people passed without getting barked at. We kept the dogs in the camper or in the truck to minimize the barking, but still, this particular trip they were crazed. We thought it might be payback from not taking them on the big camping trip.

For our one full day there, we decided to hike the trail up to Lava Butte. The trail begins in Paradise Creek Campground and starts off by crossing the Wind River. It then climbs through the forest, gaining 900 feet in about 0.5 mile. The final elevation is 2,200 feet. The steep incline is non-stop, sheer torture. In a few places, it was steep enough to climb with hands and feet, and you had to be careful not to slip and fall off the trail and down the side of the mountain.

The dogs, free of their leashes, would run effortlessly up the trail several yards before running back down again to meet us, and then do it all over again.

Once at the top, a flat plateau surrounded by trees and scrubby vegetation, we found our way through some brush and were treated to a view of the beautiful valley far below us. We sat and rested here awhile, exhilarated and so happy to be at the top. On our way back down we encountered the first and only other hikers we’d see on the trail. They asked if they were close to the top and then groaned when Travis told them, “You’re about half way there.”

When we got near to the bottom we put the dogs back on their leashes and they pulled us along steadily as we got closer to the river. Once there, we all jumped in to cool off. It was an easy night after that. The dogs were too tired to bark, and so when people passed camp, they would just lazily open one eye and growl, not even bothering to lift their heads off the ground. “They’re so cute”, Travis and I said to each other, “…when they’re sleeping.”

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