Threemile Lake

August 20, 1999

Nine people had signed up for this 6½-mile hike last Friday, of whom three didn’t show up. The remaining six left the S.E.H.S. parking lot at 9:10 a.m. in two cars. After a rest stop at Linslaw County Park to inspect the new sanitary facilities (our trail park dollars at work at a county park??) we arrived at the trailhead parking area inside Tahkenitch lake C.G., below a big sign warning us that our cars would be towed away if we didn’t pay. Undaunted, as we had trail passes, we got a first return on our trail park money by using the seemingly brand-new sanitary facilities right next to the trailhead. Between the time we set off at 1:45 and the time we returned four hours later, we saw: 1, a SUV parked on the beach, with a sullen couple walking past us; 2, an unoccupied F.S. pickup truck on the beach where the connector trail to Threemile Lake begins; 3, new plank walkways on that trail bridging low areas that are often (but were not now) under water; 4, two empty tents in the sand just before we reached the rim of the big dune above the lake; 5, on the lake shore a brave mother with her three young sons who were camping out a few nights in the tents above (“Are you using the lake for your water needs?” “No, we hauled in our own supply. As a matter of fact, we hauled in more than we need”); and 6, a helicopter constantly flying back and forth over the lake. “Your trail dollars at work!” we were told later by one of two F.S. workers. After a leisurely lunch and a swim we had worked our way back to the slanted footbridge across the lake inlet by hanging onto the brush that crowds the shore. Scratched but dry (nobody had slipped into the brackish water) we climbed up on the bridge and entered the forest to the deafening roar of that helicopter overhead. Then we stopped dead in our tracks: warning tape across the trail, and a huge load of construction lumber, still attached to hoisting ropes, covering the first footbridge. We backed off, fearing another “drop”, perhaps this time on our heads. But the chopper roared off, apparently to another drop zone. Breaking through blackberry bushes and threading our way over and around the pile of lumber it wasn’t long before we came to the second drop zone. Two F.S. workers were trying to direct the pilot to the exact drop site, “but he can’t seem to find it. He’s been trying for some time now.” “We saw the earlier drop, on top of the foot bridge back there. What are you building here?” “We’re rebuilding this bridge here,” he said, pointing to a short plank on the trail. “Next week this’ll all be new. Your trail dollars at work!” We left, passing a party hiking in for the weekend. After hiking under an overcast sky all afternoon we drove home in sunshine, stopping at the colorful A1phaBits Café with its laid-back staff. Between us we had milkshake, coffee with chocolate and coconut-lemon bars, or home-made mushroom soup. This year’s six Threemile Lakers were Max Brown, Wendy Clarke, Nola Shurtleff, Sheila Ward, Gisele Garrity (only non-member, but interested) and Helmut Plant (trip leader).

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