I probably speak for everyone in this industry when I say that I try to jampack as much as possible into the short summer months here in the PNW. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, I spend every free moment I can outside with my dog, Fox. We wanted to wrap up summer and take advantage of the lingering nice weather by spending one last weekend in the woods, so we packed our bags and headed out to Indian Heaven Wilderness in Washington.

The drive to Thomas Lake Trailhead was just under 2 hours which I think is the ideal drive time for a weekend trip. At the trailhead we hung our Northwest Forest Passes in our windows and filled out the Wilderness Permit at the bulletin board. We planned on doing 7 of the 14 miles on our first day but with the shorter days, we stopped about 3.5 miles in and snagged a spot near a more secluded lake so we could set up and make dinner before sunset.

two people hiking with backpacks

lake at sunset


The next morning, we woke up and decided to hike the remainder of the loop, since the pups were tired from carrying their own gear, we decided to keep our campsite and just go off on a day hike. We hiked along the PCT from one lake to another, stopping for scenic snack breaks and to let the dogs splash around in the shallow water. The connecting trails off the PCT were through old burns and seas of pink blooming Fireweed.

mountain lake

wildflowers along trail

We saw some smoke from nearby wildfires but were able to keep in touch with those back in Portland with our Satellite phones to ensure that we were out of harm's way.

recovering forest after a fire

The PCT was overgrown in a few spots which led to one in our group getting a bee sting, and while we didn’t need it, we were prepared with epi-pens as well as a first aid kit.

9 miles, 1,00 feet, and 6 hours later and we were back at camp ready for some lunch and a nap. The pups enjoyed some relaxation time on their Rumpl blankets while we ate lunch and treated our (very minor) wounds from the day.

Being surrounded by trees, nightfall came at about 7pm and we all retreated to our tents to hide from the few remaining mosquitos of the season, reorganize our gear, and rest up for the final 3.5 miles out the next day.

Our final morning was slow and steady. Everyone, pups included, was tired and sore from the days prior. The weather was gorgeous, so we stopped to take plenty of photos during our hike out.

dog with harness and pack

dog laying down with pack

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lake and trail

Back at the trailhead and back to service, we planned our lunch outing for Backwoods Brewing Company for a refreshing post-hike drink and plenty of carbs.

backpacker on trail with dog