here Trail Blazer Vignettes: Cliff Lake

Washington Trail Blazers

Cliff Lake

Don Ihlenfeldt

July 25, 1958

On the evening of July 25, Trail Blazers Jack Mathewson, George Kniert, Clayton “Goathead” Kilbourn and Don Ihlenfeldt picked up 1,000 cut-throats at the Arlington Hatchery and proceeded on to the Darrington Ranger Station to check for fire closures. The Ranger asked us hopefully if we wanted immediate employment fighting fires, but we regretfully rejected his offer and beat a hasty retreat to the car.

We kept the fish in Big Creek overnight and the next morning went on to the end of Jug Creek logging road where we started hiking. At 6 a.m. when the hike began, it was already warm and 2-1/2 hours later at Bluff Lake the day was getting hot. A couple of hours later the heat was almost unbearable. From Bluff Lake we made the twenty-minute hike to Cliff Lake and planted about 300 fish there with the loss of 5 or 10. After a swim (with Goathead Kilbourn posing for some rather revealing snapshots) and lunch, George and Jack took 400 fish over two miles of side hill gouging to Chaval Lake, with Jack cursing and swearing at Kniert all the way for leading him across such terrain. Meanwhile, Clayton and I took the other 300 fish to Big (alias Hyas) Lake. On both of these plants the loss was extremely large, probably due to the very small size of the fish. However, Goathead, that well-meaning but rather fumbling old timer, while leading the way to Big Lake, became confused and an hour or so was lost while thrashing through neck-high vine maple and huckleberry brush. This fact may have helped some of those poor fish on their way.

The return trip was uneventful and slow. Allowances were made for the afore-mentioned “old timer” Goathead, whose frail condition was due to his advancing old age.