Trip Report    

Backpack - Wonderland Wildflowers, Suspension Bridges and the History of Indian Henry

So-To-Lick was named by locals "Indian Henry". Indian Henry's Hunting Ground has captivated many hikers for well over a century. With wildflowers and the backdrop of Rainier, it easily takes your breath away. Living in the shadow of the mountain my entire life, I became more curious about So-To-Lick after discovering a small monument within a cemetery tucked along a lonely road near the flanks of the Nisqually river. By adding time to your backpack, your trip can be about the journey.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • PLANNING: Planning for this 30+ mile backpack takes a permit from or walk up a day in advance. Tip: Try to plan for a time there is a full moon, a wildflower show and some nice weather. We ended up with all :)

    CAR SHUTTLE: We carpooled then staged our cars at two end at Longmire and Westside Rd. Next, we shuttled to our starting point at Westside Rd.

    TIME TO EXPLORE: There are side trips along this trail. Initially our plans were to hike only the 5 miles to South Puyallup Camp. Leaving options open, our group was creative and did a gear drop at Lake George and then hiked up to Gobblers Knob. Enjoying the journey, we also explored Mirror Lakes just north of Indian Henry's Hunting Ground.

    Backpacking should be about the journey...

DAY #1 South Puyallup Camp: A backpack anywhere on the Wonderland is a time to ponder footsteps that came before you. Nothing is a more prominent, well maintained, and within reach and access by each footstep made than the ever changing landscape, wildflowers, features and history that surprised us and rise across the 30 miles here.


Lake George


Tahoma (Westside)


Gobblers Knob Fire Lookout (Westside Boundary USFS)

Day #2 Emerald Ridge, Indian Henrys, Mirror Lake, Devil's Dream Camp

The deep green color of approaching Emerald Ridge along the flanks of the South Puyallup Glacier in the morning light was glorious.


Emerald Ridge and Tahoma

At the Tahoma Suspension Bridge crossing, it was exhilarating trying not to bounce across its 200 ft span with a few missing boards and close to 200 ft of space below. Screen Shot 2023-08-15 at 6.06.38 AM.png

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Tahoma Suspension Bridge

After exploring Mirror Lakes and gathering a few insects and filtering water, we arrived at Indian Henry's Patrol Cabin just in time for lunch. 



Who Was Indian Henry?

The patrol cabin is in amazing shape after weathering extreme conditions year after year. On this particular day the shutters on one side were left propped open with one shutter occasionally slapping the side of the cabin. Fixed to the inside were a few photos of "Camp of the Clouds" with Indian Henry, John Muir, B. Loomis, P.B. Van Trump, E.S. Ingraham, Wm Keith. Names that are often found immortalized in glaciers and alpine parks on Rainier.

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One of the most beautiful spots on the Wonderland Trail of Mt. Rainier to me is Indian Henry's Hunting Ground. Equally as spectacular is the story of Rainier native guide, "Indian Henry" So-To-Lick, 1820-1895.

From the website Visit Rainier, it is said, Indian Henry came to Western Washington in the 1850s, banished from the village of Simco on the Yakama Indian Reservation for killing a medicine man.

Born So-To-Lick in 1825, historians aren’t sure of his tribal origin. He is believed to be of Nisqually, Cowlitz or Klickitat origin. He eventually settled on the Mashel Prairie near present-day Eatonville in 1864 among other Native Americans primarily of Nisqually and Klickitat descent.

So-To-Lick received his “Boston” (American in the Chinook Jargon) name from Henry Winsor a pioneer mail carrier. According to Edmond Meany, when Winsor met So-To-Lick he asked him his name. It was unpronounceable to Winsor prompting him to joke, “that’s no name-your name is Indian Henry,” offering So-To-Lick his “Boston” name. The name stuck. Indian Henry adapted well to this name as he did with many of the customs of the “Boston” settlers. He was equally as comfortable with his Native customs and had little problems living within both of these “worlds.”

It is also said Indian Henry had three wives as was customary of his people at the time. One story goes that Henry was brought before Judge James Wickersham in Tacoma to explain his marriage to these women.  The judge told him that he would have to give up two of his wives. He kept his first wife which he ended up having five children with including a son he named Wickersham So-To-Lick. Despite the conflict of having to let go of two of his wives, he apparently didn’t harbor any ill will for the judge, naming a son after him. Henry respected that Wickersham had an understanding of native cultures. Henry’s other two wives remained nearby working for him.

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Little more is written about about this famous guide who like many natives respected the mountain in way they never would climb it. So-To-Lick showed the way to many early climbers who were first to summit the peak.

In later life, So-To-Lick spent his life living along the Nisqually, living between two ways of life, where he was eventually laid to rest in 1895. 

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Monument in Shaker Cemetery 

DAY #2 Devil's Dream Camp- As we set up camp at Devil's Dream finally gathering for our evening meal, our discussion focused on the culture of the backpacker and how to stay focused on the journey. So much of our lives we live in terms of the end or what we finished, how far we went, how high was our elevation gain and never talk about what happened along the way. The journey should always include leaving time to explore and discover, ask questions, seek answers and discuss possibilities for the next day.


Day #3- Devil's Dream to Longmire- Many of us caught the full moon that peeked in and out of the trees in the middle of the night both inside and outside our tents. After morning coffee, we packed up and made our way back towards Longmire.

The day was a beautiful end to a wonderful 3-day trip seeing and appreciating a kinder Wonderland then the previous years challenges with relatively easy water crossings, mild temperatures, and fewer insects in our path.



We mostly all agreed, the outdoors always hold a lesson or two on how to live your life. Most importantly, always "pack time in your backpack" and reflect and enjoy the journey.