What happens when you bring 9 friends together and send them into the woods for three nights loaded with fishing gear, bourbon and attitude? Magic, that’s what. Originally my turn to pick, we had some scheduling mis-communications when Latimer put the Necklace Valley stake in the ground for a early October hike (always a risky move given weather – see Wallowa Hike notes). BUT, the weather was PERFECT and we had a glorious weekend together – Greg, Scott, Ralph, Jeff, Patrick, Mark (boyfriend in-law?), Rob B., John Howell and Johnny G. (two nights only).
Necklace Valley is a hard hike that has four miles of flat along the East Fork of the Foss River outside of Skykomish and then climbs 3,000+ feet in 3.5 miles. It’s a grunt. Especially when carrying three nights worth of food, booze and activities. Will Shortt once asked – “why do the hikes get longer as we get older?” good question.
I picked up Patrick, Mark and John Howell from the airport and hosted them Weds night while Rob Blake snuggled in with Jeff. We headed up early Thursday and made the 7 hour + hike to Emerald Lake where we had a sweet group hang out site and owned that lake (one of many in the valley). Johnny G. started a couple of hours behind us but caught up when we started setting up camp. The weather was perfect and the colors were magnificent. Golds, reds, greens – from Maples and Aspens turning as well as all of the lush river moss, pine/cedar/fir trees. Really a stunning (and hard) hike.
Greg, Ralph and Johnny G. bagged Mt. Hinman on day two while the rest of us explored and fished Lake Illswoot. Beautiful, sunny day of fishing, swimming, sun bathing and relaxing. Mark found the honey hole and pulled in a half dozen Rainbows. Jeff was also successful while Scott struck out. We had plenty of fish to cook that night with Rob Blake performing the de-boning duties (always nice having a surgeon along on these trips).
Day three was a trip to Lockett Lake for more fishing which was challenging to get to and hard to find a good casting spot. The spin casters definitely won the day over the fly fisherman with superior distance into the middle. Both Latimer and Murray were slaying the trout while Scott struck out (again). We ended up heading back to camp for afternoon naps, frisbee golf and then a trip back to Illswoot for the evening hatch. I took over Mark’s honey hole and pulled in the last fish of the trip (nice Rainbow).
That night was also bourbon tasting and we crowned a new champion courtesy of Jeff Thompson – Old Emmer Cask Strength Wheat Bourbon. Cask strength bourbons have won the last three years so…
The hike out was as beautiful as the hike in (and a lot quicker). Stunning fall colors, a few broken hiking poles, lots of good conversation and some cold beers (thanks Jeff!) at the parking lot. Here are my pictures of the hike and here are Greg’s pics (including the view from the top of Hinman).