Field Report #20150509SH
Topic: Exploring outside Spokane
Conditions: Varied, i.e. Inland Northwest Spring
I drove west on I-90 while the clouds, those lofty, white vessels, soared over the plains. Gusts of wind swatted my car across the highway, and I held the steering wheel firmly. Lucky for me, the forecasted rain had not yet begun.
I was glad to take exit 254 where only a handful of other vehicles cruised on Sprague Highway Road. I turned left on a gravel road .8 miles after exiting the interstate and crossed the railroad tracks by the old Fishtrap train station. The gate marking the boundary to BLM land was open, and I continued to the trailhead and parking lot, where I saw two other cars and some horses a ways down the old dirt road.
Hog Lake is a stomach-shaped sliver on the map that I had never noticed before that day. As I walked the wide, easy path, I admired the basalt cliffs, wet meadows, and small stands of pine—all typical of the Channeled Scablands in eastern Washington. I closed the 5-mile loop and thought about spring in the Inland Northwest, how it’s always an adventure. How exciting and possible the day feels when the weather can pivot from sunshine to graupel in an instant.
The Department of the Interior now manages the land, but some old wood structures and crumpled barbed wire are evidence of former ranches, with cattle that used to graze among the balsamroot, camas, and lupines. Several springs fed the lake, but none were so noticeable as the cascade that plummeted into a small pool enclosed by a wild spread of basalt talus. The loose rocks were speckled with orange and green by lichen that peeled like old paint.
Tom Yum Goong Num Khon is a spicy prawn hot pot, topped with with fresh lime juice and cilantro. It has nothing to do with Hog Lake, other than the following: (1) delicious soup is perfect after a spring hike, and (2) Sala Thai is on the way home from adventures west of the city.