May 25, 1981
If you are reading this trip report because you thought about going to Salmon Lakes but didn’t, get out your handkerchiefs. Your Memorial Day celebration probably finished a poor second compared to the pleasures of this outing.
Picture, if you will, leader Karen Houglum. Why is this leader smiling? For one thing, there were the intermittent showers Sunday afternoon which reduced the number of signers from 24 to 13, at the same time providentially filling the trunk of her Pontiac with water so that nobody wanted her to drive it. This was probably for the best as in addition to the water, she had upset an entire gallon of milk in the trunk the evening before and it was beginning to make itself known.
By 9:30 a.m., all 13 of us were smiling at the prospect of good weather ahead of us, and the trailhead had no sooner been reached when Dorothy (“Loop”) Leland made a suggestion: instead of hiking in and out on the Salmon Lakes trail, why not head up Waldo Mountain Trail, meet connecting trail 3591 and then descend to Salmon Lakes? This sounded reasonable to the others and the plan was agreed upon. Which shows how much these hikers knew about the first pitch of the Waldo Mountain Trail!
Within minutes, all conversation receded into a uniform chorus of panting as leader Houglum, flanked by a determined Merle Traudt, reflected ruefully that she had advertised this as a “leisurely hike.” These circumstances had an effect on a conversation which took place once we reached the intersection of Waldo Mountain Trail and 3591 and discovered that we were within 1½ miles of the summit. The possibility of a loop-de-loop trip now presented itself. All turned to leader Houglum for advice. She knew exactly what to do. With shrewdness far beyond her years, she assumed a grave expression, folded her hands behind her back, and let the more experienced trip leaders hash it out! When those worthies concluded that a detour to Waldo Mountain would be too taxing for some hikers, leader Houglum solemnly agreed that it was so. We took off en masse for Salmon Lakes.
3591 brought us shortly to a sunny beargrass slope with a fine prospect of Cupit Mary Mountain, where we took our repast. Thereafter the trail snaked through woods and crossed several snow patches which bore elk tracks. In no time at all we reached Upper Salmon Lake, where we found caddis fly cases and tiny frogs in the water. Presently we noticed a hollow roaring sound. Making our way along the spongy shore, we came upon a large, handsome waterfall toppling down from a hill above us. Three or four hikers headed up the bank to explore it, and one of them, Chuck Berkey, was lucky enough to spot four elk before they bolted.
Oddly enough, although Upper and Lower Salmon Lakes are only a few hundred yards apart, there is no recognizable trail between them, and this precipitated a small crisis. After paying a visit to the lower lake, we counted noses and bushwhacked our way out, inadvertently leaving one hiker standing there, fiddling with his camera. A few minutes later, when he set out after the group, he couldn’t locate it. Meanwhile, back at the branch, emergency plans were drawn up with three men volunteering to bivouac that night if necessary, but happily the lost hiker came upon the main trail and met us on our way back to the cars. The lost and found hikers were Dorinda Bankston, Chuck Berkey, Joel Cherrytree, Bob Foster, Mary & Sue Girardeau, Fran Gnose, Wilbur Groner, Mary Huey, Dot Leland, Jim Sellers, Merle Traudt, and leader Karen Houglum, who inserts her name as frequently as possible.