- Sherrard Point on Larch Mountain offers breathtaking views of Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Rainier, and the iconic trio of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams.
- Native American legends in the Pacific Northwest explain the Cascade volcanoes’ eruptions, woven with themes of power, love, and jealousy.
- The Klickitat people’s Bridge of the Gods legend narrates the gods’ journey down the Columbia River in search of a divine dwelling.
- The legend involves the creation of the Bridge of the Gods and a sacred fire, tended by Loowit, the “lady of fire,” bestowed with eternal youth.
- Tragic love entanglements between Wy’east, Klickitat, and Loowit lead to a cataclysmic event, giving rise to the distinctive mountains.
Hidden amidst the wonders of hiking lies a well-kept secret: Sherrard Point on Larch Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge. Here, on a clear day, a spectacular panorama awaits. Behold the majesty of Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Rainier, and the legendary triad of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams. Long before the era of explorers and settlers, indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest beheld the eruptions of Cascade volcanoes, seeking explanations that birthed enduring legends. While diverse tribes added their unique twists, the common thread weaving through all the narratives is one of power, love, and envy.
Among these legends, the Klickitat people wove the Bridge of the Gods tale. It chronicles the journey of the chief of all gods, Tyee Sahale, and his two sons, Pahto and Wy’east, down the Columbia River in search of a divine abode. The land around The Dalles struck them as unimaginably beautiful, a fitting dwelling for gods. Yet, a dispute between the sons prompted their father’s intervention. Tyee Sahale shot two arrows, dictating their respective domains. This act set in motion the shaping of their new homes.
Tyee Sahale forged the Bridge of the Gods, a meeting point for his family, with a sacred fire at its heart, drawing people from afar to gather embers. Loowitlatkla, the faithful and kind “lady of fire,” dwelt at the bridge’s center. Her devotion did not go unnoticed by Sahale, who granted her the gift of eternal life. However, Loowit yearned for youth and beauty, and Sahale, unable to retract his gift, granted her a single wish. She chose to be forever young and fair.
Fate intertwined the lives of Wy’east, hailing from the land of the Multnomahs to the south, and Klickitat, venturing down from the north, both drawn by the tales of this remarkable woman. Love blossomed, but Loowit found herself unable to choose between the two ardent suitors. Their rivalry escalated into devastating conflict, scorching villages and forests. Sahale, enraged, wrought destruction upon the Bridge of the Gods, casting it into the river, forming the Columbia River Gorge.
In a final act of love, Sahale memorialized the ill-fated trio, raising three distinct mountains at the sites of their demise, etching their legend into the very landscape they once roamed.