here Trail Blazer Biography: Cliff Lawson

Washington Trail Blazers

Cliff Lawson

Cliff and other Trail Blazers in 2001

Left to right: TB Phil Leatherman, TB Cliff Lawson, TB Rex Johnson, TB Don Ihlenfeldt, Chris Kilbourn, Dave Kilbourn, Jim Piskula (Dave’s brother in law), TB Ed Lebert, TB Yanling Yu, TB Dan Sjolseth. August 2001 Photo by Mike Swayne

Trip Report

Cliff Lawson, July 26, 1959

Upon arrival at the Puyallup Hatchery 1-1/4 lbs. of rainbow fry were care-fully weighed out and divided equally into two cans. The fish were running 380 to the lb. and varied greatly in size. The cans were iced down to 45 degrees and we started back to the small creek where the fish were to be held until 2.00 A. M. the following morning.

At 5.30 PM the creek was reached and temperature checked at 52 degrees. The cans were tempered and placed under a small falls to await their early morn-ing jaunt.

I checked the fry at 9:30 PM and found the cans full of silt. It was decided to move the cans to a larger creek which was running clear. About 1.00 A. M. the cans were picked up, brought home, cleaned, filled with spring water and iced down to 45 degrees.

The fellows arrived at 2:30 and an hour later we pulled into Everett. While the troops had coffee I went back after my pack and boots, which had been left behind.

Eventually we made it to the creek by the trailhead where the cans were checked, There was no loss of fish and can temperature was 47 degrees. We tempered the cans and placed them in the creek which was 45 degrees and clear.

Cliff Lawson in 1958

Cliff Lawson in 1958. Photo by Mike Swayne

One half mile up the trail the containers were checked and some of the fry seemed to be quite dead. Three were removed and placed in a small creek but did not revive. We continued on and 5-1/2 hours later we were at the lake shore. After tempering the can, the narcotized fish in the poly containers were checked. We found all but one dead.

The lone survivor was released and immediately became active - the dead ones were discolored and all curled up. They were placed in a. shallows for observation. We then planted the fry from the can without loss. As we were all quite hungry, lunch was in order and as we ate we watched as the rainbows explored their new home.

At 3.00 P.M. the anesthetized fish were still quite dead. We headed out and after ten thousand switchbacks the road and Bob’ s carryall were reached. It was now 6.00 P.M.

Trail Blazers on the trip were. Bob Pittsenbarger, Tom Williams, Cliff Lawson, George Hanson.

Visitors were: Ron Sorenson and Pittsenbarger’s Dogs.

Trip Report

Cliff Lawson, August 1, 1959

After a sleepless Friday night, I left home for Tokul Creek Hatchery, arriving there at 2:00 A.M.

The fish that George Lewis had left in the creek were in poor shape, the can was full of mud and 40-50 dead were removed. After cleaning the can as well as possible approximately 150-175 fry were removed and placed in the can. The remainder was placed back in the creek to await Slick Tanggard and Mike Swayne. I iced the can down to 43 degrees and departed for the Mt. Loop at 3:15 A.M.

At 6:15 I met Alex Ferkovich and Earl St. Aubin who had sacked out on the Sauk near Swift Creek. After the fry were placed in Swift Creek (can temperature 46 degrees - creek 45 degrees) a hasty breakfast was eaten.

We then drove to the trailhead and by 7:00 A.M. were on the trail. The end of the trail was reached by 9:00 A.M. and we decided to try a new route. After an hour lost floundering through vine maple and beaver dams, it was concluded the old route was a better one.

It was now 1: 00 P. M. and with the very steep climb behind us, it was agreed to have a bite to eat while the can was iced down in a small snow fed creek.

The lake was made by 2:00 P.M., Lake temperature being a cool 40 degrees, can temperature was up to 54. While the fish were being tempered numerous pictures were taken of the awe inspiring scenic beauty surrounding us.

The fry were then released in their new home with a loss of 65 fish and then we started down to the trail.

The trail was reached at 5:00 P.M. and after cooling ourselves at the falls we went on to the car arriving at 7:30 P. M.

Trail Blazers were Alex Ferkovich and Cliff Lawson. Visitor - Earl St. Aubin (Mountaineers).

Tupso Lake

Cliff Lawson, July 8, 1961

Cliff at Tupso with old style fish jugs

Milt Tanggard and Cliff Lawson with old style fish jugs at Tupso Lake in 1961. Photo by Clayton Kilbourn

Friday evening Doug Barrie, Clayton (Carabine) Kilbourn and Karl Brandmeir arrived at my place about 8:30. How they packed all their gear, plus the three of them in Doug’s Sprite Roadster, I’ll never know. They were early so we drank coffee and discussed the next days activities. Doug had thoughtfully brought along some pictures taken of Mike, George, Straight Jacket Kilbourn and himself on that memorable ascent of Monte Cristo Peak. Clayton immediately became a little pale and a faraway look came into his eyes. After pouring some more coffee into him and reassuring him that we were really going on a stocking trip, only then were we able to get Clayton into the jeep.

We started out, meeting Warren Jones enroute and proceeded onto John Kings Arlington Hatchery. As might have been expected the Rainbow fry had suddenly grown from 250 to the pound to 110 per pound. We had only one full and one half can, but thanks to Kniert the day was saved. George had left two full cans at the hatchery. The fry (2-1/2 pds. ) were loaded into the three full cans and we were on our way.

It was midnight when our caravan pulled into Darrington for coffee. Just as we were leaving, who should walk in but M. B. T. (Mr. President). As we stood at attention and gave that reverent Trail Blazer salute (censored), several official orders were issued - such as: "Go shake the cans before you lose all the fish", "Let’s get this fiasco on the road" and "Say I’ll take a cup of that coffee. " After several minutes of indecision and only after we reminded him that he’s only been to Tupso three times before, did our esteemed President consent to accompany us.

Onward to our roadside campsite where we were to spend the rest of the night. The fry were placed in the nearby creek and the troops sacked out on the rocky roadbed, hopeful of a few hours of shuteye.

Doug was up at 5:30 and by six or so the rest of us managed to drag our bruised bodies out of the sack. While the merits of sleeping on crushed rock roadbeds without an air mattress was discussed., coffee was brewed and breakfast eaten. After the usual: "why did I ever let you talk me into this etc." was voiced, we made ready to get about our business of stocking a few fish.

The fry were iced down to 40 degrees and we started out up the ridge. Two full cans and one half can were carried. Five pounds of crushed ice was packed in a poly jug, strapped below the half can. The route followed is void of any water and it was necessary to check and ice down the cans occasionally. The large fry were found to be riding quite well throughout the trip. After the usual discussions about whether to go up, down, around, forward or back, we arrived at the lake.

Tupso still had some ice and temp checked a chill 38 degrees, can temp was 48. The fry was tempered slowly and released without loss. Now Tupso was a barren lake and had been checked as such several times. But an exciting moment was had when that familiar "kerplosh" was heard and right at our feet. Low and behold it was only my poor camera gurgling its way to the lake bottom.

Tupso Lake crew

Cliff Lawson, Warren Jones, Clayton Kilbourn, Milt Tanggard on ridge above Tupso Lake in 1961. Photo from Doug Barrie collection.

I retrieved my soggy camera and joined the troops, who were now hungrily eating lunch. All. through the meal Nudist Kilbourn harassed us unmercifully. Running here and there in his efforts to catch us in compromising poses and record same on film. (to supplement his income during old age no doubt). Goat heads antics came to a sudden halt when he heard us discussing the possibilities of climbing Illabot Peak, which was just over the next ridge.

About 2:00 P. M. we climbed the ridge in search of a better vantage point. (That’s what Clayton thought anyway). Milt and Clayton were fumbling wildly for their many exotic photographic goodies. Soon they were snapping pictures desperately. All the while cursing and mumbling almost incoherently; Big Devil, Matterhorn, Snowfield, Sloppy, Primus, Tricouni, El Dorado, Boston, Sahale, etc., on and on they raved.

Clayton was overjoyed when we told him there wasn’t enough time to climb Illabot Peak. Doug and I climbed a small gendarme enroute. Continuing the trek out we reached the cars about 8:00 P.M.

Warren Jones informed us he was to be at a party with his wife at 9:30 so he’d better get started. All agreed since it would take him 4 hours to make it home he’d better get along. At least Warren had plenty of time to think up a good old Trail Blazer excuse.

The rest of us packed up and drove into Darrington for a bite to eat. Milk shakes and hamburger steaks were in order and as I bit into mine a warning crunch resounded. Buckshot in my steak. The final touch needed to make a stock trip an overwhelming success.

Trip sponsor: Cliff (dentists’ delight) Lawson

Trail Blazers on trip were, Milt (got no gavel) Tanggard, Clayton (straight jacket) Kilbourn, Warren (I’m never late) Jones and Doug (sports car) Barrie.

Visitor was Karl (Velvet fog, Jr. ) Brandmeir

Comments and conclusions: Man! what a grungus crew.

Diobsud Lakes

Cliff Lawson, August 6 and 7, 1960

Photo of Don Ihlenfeldt

Don Ihlenfeldt below Bacon Peak tending the old style fish can. Photo by Mike Swayne, 1960.

Friday evening Don Ihlenfeldt, Mike Swayne, and myself left for the Arlington Hatchery, arriving there about 9.30 P. M. We placed 1200 Cutts (2500 pounds) in the fiberglass can and were on our way.

After a quick coffee stop in "Woolley" and a long drive, we reached Baker Lake. The cutts were bedded down in the river and we sacked out.

At dawn we had a hurried breakfast, picked up the fry and headed down the lake. After finding a suitable spot to launch our staunch flagship "The Leaky Tiki" (an 8-foot punt belonging to Swayne) we started across the lake. With Mike as oarsman it wasn’t long before we reached Noisy Creek. The cutts were transferred to Kniert’s "half-can" and at 6020 A. M. we started up the trail.

After about two miles the trail became non-existent and as we proceeded the brush became very bad. All three of us were dripping wet and with no end of brush in sight, we decided to climb out of this dripping jungle. We gained some altitude and immediately became cliffed in, so back to the creek hole we went, our spirits slightly dampened.

Hours later we approached the upper creek forks. Here we rested and planted a few fry as we had done previously. The route ahead was much worse than anything behind us, it took a punishing 2-1/2 hours to claw our way up the 800 feet. From an elevation of 3, 900 feet at the valley head we made the final pitch and descended to the lakes. It was now 4:35 P.M., which adds up to 10 hours and 15 minutes from Baker Lake. The can was tempered and the fry distributed with a total loss of 25 fish. As it was getting dark, we set up our camp and ate a tasty dinner.

At 5:30 A. M. we arose, had a leisurely breakfast, and started out. The trip out was uneventful, but upon reaching Baker Lake things became a bit more exciting; the lake was no longer a calm, placid surface. A small gale was blowing and the lake was whipped into a white froth. Fearlessly we ventured forth, but before long that anxious feeling overtook us. It was necessary to row with the swells to keep from being swamped. Eventually we reached shore about a mile east of our truck.

After a few short beers to enlighten our dampened spirits, we fired up the jeep and left Baker Lake, arriving at my place at 10030 P. M.

Trail Blazers were Don (Roman Nose) Ihlenfeldt, Mike (Lundin) Swayne and Cliff (Brush-hole) Lawson.

Upper Blum Stock Trip

Cliff Lawson, September 17, 1960

First of all, my thanks to Milt Tanggard for picking up the Golden Trout (salmo agua-bonita) at Tokul Creek. This was necessary as I had to attend a wedding that evening. Milt, Mike, Clayton and the Goldens arrived at 10:30 P. M. The can temperature was checked at a cool 38 degrees and the fry were in good shape. We coffeed up and departed for Baker Lake at 11:00 P.M. Breakfast was eaten in Sedro Woolley, in the midst of several dozen drunken, fight-hungry loggers, one of whom almost smashed my foot when he playfully slammed my car door shut.

Having escaped from "Woolley" with no more than slight cases of indigestion, we made our way to the head of Baker Lake, arriving there at 3:30 A. M. We had used my insulated fiberglass can to transport the fry while driving, and upon in-spection found that the can temp had risen only one degree since leaving Seattle. The can was tempered up to the required 48 degree temperature and placed in the river till morning.

Sacktime was all too short as we were up at 6:30 and on our way shortly later. Meanwhile the fry were’ transferred to a new fiberglass half-can with a three gallon capacity mounted on an aluminum frame along with an insulated vinyl bag for carry-ing ice. Another new innovation, an oxygen tablet used to aerate the can, was tried and proven feasible. This combination was used for backpacking the fish into the lake.

Before long we reached the long, steep, twisting ridge, which was the chosen route as in two previous trips. The ascent begins at 700 ft. and ends at Upper Blum, elevation 5,000 ft. , a continuous grind all the way. The pitch is 400-450 most of the distance and the route scattered with cliffs and deceptive terrain.

Photo of Don Ihlenfeldt

Cliff Lawson at Blum Lakes. Photo by Mike Swayne, 1960.

As this is a dry mountain, ice was packed to keep can temp down and replenish the water supply, It also seems worth mentioning the performance of the previously described oxygen tablet. This worked very well, keeping the water from going stale throughout the trip. There were no adverse affects experienced from usage of this tablet; in fact, the fry seemed quite attracted to it.

After the long hard pull, we eventually reached the lower Brookie-infested lake. Here we stopped to take a few pictures, all the while cussing and swearing at whoever was responsible for ruining this beautiful lake. We then proceeded to the upper lake where we had lunch and tempered the can. The Goldens were then released with a total loss of six fry.

With the business at hand finished, we scrambled up a scree slope heading for a 6400 ft, pass, climbing up and around a two acre glacial tarn enroute. Upon arrival, at the pass we commanded an excellent vantage point, and with cameras clicking furiously, we ran here and there taking pictures of every crag in sight.

Mike and I climbed higher to a 6700 ft knob, where an unexcelled panorama was had. The many peaks of Hagan to the west, Bacon Peak and Bacon Creek Peaks to the south, Baker, Shuksan, Blum to the north and the Southern Pickets to the east, with Challenger, Despair and Triumph most prominent.

Finally with our film expended and daylight waning, we descended to the lakes and started the long trek out. Once again at the jeep we talked about our day in the mountains, all agreed that the 6,000 ft. climb and descent constituted a pretty good "One Dayer".

Trip Sponsor. Cliff Lawson Trail Blazers on this trip were Mike Swayne, Clayton Kilborn, Milt Tanggard and Cliff Lawson.