The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., September 4, 1913, page 1

Local Men Fish On The Stream
All Who Visit District Return Enthusiastic Supporters of the Proposed Road Across Forest Reservoir

     The lure of the scenery and the excellent fishing in the region of Lost Lake and on the West Fork of Hood river has taken local citizens and visitors from the neighboring cities into the wilds of the mountain forests there since the Hood River valley has been inhabited. Indeed, the country was penetrated at an early date by hunters and trappers. In the early part of the 19th century members of the Hudson Bay Co., took a toll of the fur bearing animals and killed the numerous the deer and bear. Trails with blazes on spruce, hemlock, firs and pine may be seeing threading the dense forests there today. One of these mountain and forest highways, where the woodsman is as much at home as the city man on the streets of his accustomed bailiwick, was cut more than a quarter of this century ago by James Langille, a pioneer homesteaders of the Mount Hood district. While scarce, game still abounds in this mountain district west of Mount Hood, and deer and there are killed there each year by the valley's experienced hunters. However, at this season of the year, the deer seem far more plentiful among the brakes of the Columbia further to the west. Colonies of beaver may still be found on the headwaters of the West Fork and its tributary streams. On Elk creek, near the point where Jones creek flows into the stream, a large number of beaver have taken up their residence and are felling trees, some of them a foot and a half inch diameter, peeling the bark from them for their winter food. An occasional otter may be seen in the streams, and deer trails may be seen by the scores.
     No fisherman, hunter or mere sightseer ever returns from this district that he does not become an ardent booster for the highway that has been proposed to follow the route of a trail that has been cut by the United States Forestry service. And no boosters have become more enthusiastic than the members of the party composed of Judge A.J. Derby, V. Winchell, Fred E. Newby, and Joe D. Thomison, who penetrated further into the district last week than any other fishermen of the year.
     These local men left Hood River Sunday morning, August 24, motoring to the home of Raymond Markley in the big Royal tourist car of L.E. Foust. There they were met by Mr. Markeley, who transported their camp outfit for a distance of 12 miles to a point on the banks of Elk creek about a half mile from its confluence with the West Fork proper. The last half of this journey, with the exception of the last half mile, where a trail was made through the virgin forest down to the water level, was over the trail cut by the government two summers ago. From the junction of the trail made by the campers and the government trail, a passage several feet wide, with boulders removed, logs cut away and underbrush slashed, the distance to Welche's, a resort on the headwaters of the Sandy, can be covered in less then three hours of walking, and the in no place traverses a grade of more than five percent. Everyone who has ever traversed this trial, the members of last week's party included, grows indignant when it is realized that but for the action of the Portland water board in securing an injunction and prohibiting the work, the government would have appropriated the sum of $150,000 toward completing the work of making a wagon road through the beautiful district. Members of the recent fishing party planned on a trip to Welch's. However, on account of the excellent fishing, they were unable to leave the pools. On last Thursday Mr. Newby, Mr. Winchell and Mr. Thomison walked from their camp to the camp maintained by the government on Jones creek and there leaving the main trail passed through the gap in the range dividing the West Fork watershed from the Lost Lake country. They walked to the top of Huckleberry Mountain and thence down to the north end of the lake, where near the inlet of that body of water the government maintain a rangers' camp. From Huckleberry Mountain, where the bush of this luscious fruit grows luxuriantly and where the berries are thicker than snowflakes in a blizzard or grouse in a hunter's paradise during the closed season, an ideal view may be had of Mount Hood. The old hoary peak, which seemed last week to be near barer than any member of the party have never seen it, assumes an altogether different picture from the west side. One is able to see the huge cracks that stick up like monster warts from the southwest side of the slope -- big brown warts they were last week, when the covering of white was all gone and when the ice of the glaciers appeared a deep blue, with here and there an amethystine tint denoting the dashes of the crevasses. And the ice crags of the seracs scintillated in the bold rays of the evening sunshine.
     At the outlet of the lake near the northwestern end of it triangular boundaries are the evidence of a veritable tent city, where Hood River people are continually going and coming during the summer months. The fishing party met A.I. Mason and Frank P. Friday at this point, and were forced to use no small amount of diplomacy in warding off a lecture on proper methods of road construction. They had walked to the lake, or else, if they had not been too tired from a bumping, the assembled people would have feasted on the erudition garnered from their experiences. C.A. Bell, who returned from the lake aboard a bouncing wagon, declares that hereafter he will take the trip on horseback, and that he thinks the animal will be "Shank's Mare."
     The return from the lake by Mr. Newby, Mr. Winchell and Mr. Thomison was made over Butcher Knife mounting, or rather through the gap south of it. This mountain received its peculiar appellation several years ago, when "Pete" Odell and Jake Lenz discovered a rusted butcher knife on its summit. It is supposed that the knife had been lost by some hunter.
     From the top of the range the outing party was able to see the peak of Mt. Jefferson south of Mount Hood. The waters of the Lost Lake rippled in the slight breeze that shook the branches of the firs and cedars beneath them, and across its surface the zigzag trail over Huckleberry Mountain formed the letter "N" on the precipitous range-side, as though a giant had carved there his initial. But off to the east rose the range of the Blue mountains, which end just above the flats west of Dee, and like a tiny film or lace ruffled by a zephyr, the West Fork could be seen cascading down the mountainside to the gorges below, where its waters and those of the clear creeks mingling together to form deep pools. It was in the latter that the fishermen and did such execution with their rods. Indeed, the hikers, despite the scenery on which they had feasted their eyes, were sorry that they had not joined Judge Derby on his excursion down the West Fork instead of making the overland trip to Lost Lake; for at sunset he returned with his basket filled with as find a lot of mountain trout as the eye of a fisherman ever feasted upon. The Judge and that record of the limit, 75, was the envy of the camp. He had found the waters of the West Fork, which are usually dingy, because of the melting glacial water, just right, and the fish had bitten as fast as he could toss his flies into the riffles. The fish were all good size, for he had thrown back the smaller ones.
     A week's camping in a region such as this gives a man a ten year lease on life. It cuts the cobwebs from his gray matter, and gives him an appetite as big as the broad out of doors, which he makes his bedroom during the outing. After the first night he loses the timidness that the man unaccustomed to the forests naturally has. He passes through that stage of nightmares where bears climb over his bed and blow their warm breath into his face and after a few nights sleeps so soundly, even though his nearest neighbor may snore with a noise like the exhaust on a high geared hippopotamus, that the ants may make a nest in his head and he will never know it until he gets back into civilization. Not only is his mind cleared, but his limbs are strengthened; for he becomes more agile than a mountain goat, while jumping from one of water worn granite boulder to another, and his wrist action, developed by the manipulation of the rod, would make an expert fencer or tennis player forlorn with envy.
     The tales that were told around the camp fire, when the evening beans, potatoes, fish and bread were finished, would fill several volumes and make interesting reading matter. And all of the experiences of that week will be stored away in the treasure vaults of the minds of the members of the party, who returned to the city Sunday evening. For several days each individual will recall the experiences of the outing when he sits down on a spot where the spine from a "Devils Walking Stick" penetrated his garments and went on through his epidermis. Although one member of the party sprained an ankle, when falling off a stone and tumbling into the cool depths of the river, and was forced to walk on his all fours for more than a day, no other mishap marred the enjoyment of the trip.
     At the present time, on account of the wild nature of the region but few fishermen penetrate the forest beyond the Lake Branch. With a road opened, it will be made accessible to Hood River and Portland people alike, and no more beautiful automobile road can be imagined than that which may be built along the side of the West Fork gorge, winding around bare, burned over areas, from which the shimmers of the water in the river a thousand feet below may be seen, and then threading the vistas of the forests. And while the true huntsman and nature lover will boost for the road, he will nevertheless have deep down in his heart a regret that it is being proposed; for then the region is certain to lose to a degree of its present appealing, wild lonesomeness.
     The entire catch of fish on the outing numbered 552. No fish were wasted; for the party brought in full baskets, and 125 of the largest of the trout were smoked over the smoldering coals of the vine maple fire. It was difficult to persuade Judge Derby to leave the enticing waters of the West Fork. On the walk out to the Markeley place Sunday he spent about an hour and a half on the river below the trail and succeeded in catching 45 fine fish.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer