Two years ago, Dan found a little hike up in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness he wanted us to do. If you remember, we tried to get up there last year for Dan's birthday, but the road was washed out and we weren't able to get through. This year, we waited until later in the year, when the road was passable.
On Friday afternoon, Dan was invited to go play paintball with some of his new coworkers. I was concerned about him being able to do the hike after paintball, but he said it was fine. Famous last words. Dan came home with a bit of an injured ankle after twisting it slightly at paintball. But it was good for him to do social things with his new coworkers and he assured me that the ankle would be fine. I felt a little relieved as it's usually me who slows us down on the trail. This time it would be Dan. ;)
We got up bright and early and caught the 7:05am ferry over to Seattle. We were in Issaquah by 8am and after the long drive up from Cle Elum, including the 12 miles of really rough, dirt road, we made it to the trail head before 11am.
We loaded up our packs with our picnic and supplies and headed out on the trail. Despite the description of the trail being "flat, flat" we started with a steady climb for the first half mile or so. The trail opened up and we got our first views up the canyon.
The weather was quite beautiful, but a little bit hot. Last weekend it was 70 degrees. Next weekend is forecast to be 70 degrees. But this weekend, 90 degrees!! PHEW!!
I had been concerned about mosquitos as I heard they can be really bad on this hike. But we saw very few mosquitos. However, the biting flies were out in FORCE and they were ravenous!! So many bites!
We started out on the trail with the car thermometer saying it was in the mid-70's, but it got warmer pretty quickly as we hiked on.
It wasn't too long before we came to a river crossing. It wasn't all that deep, maybe 5-6 inches, but it was wide. Dan was looking around for a way to get across. There was a log that you could use, but getting to it was too sketchy for me. You sort of had to jump off a rock, down onto the log. I was pretty sure that was going to result in a broken ankle, so I took my shoes off and waded across. While I was putting my shoes back on, a few other groups of hikers came through and just jumped it, trying to go from shallow spot to shallow spot. I felt kind of silly having taken my shoes off.
We crossed about 9-10 other little crossings and I left my shoes on for those. I got wet feet a couple of times, but everything dried out quickly. Dan had boots on, so I don't think he ever got wet. It's much faster to just jump through. And the cold water feels good on hot, tired feet. :)
The wildflowers were blooming everywhere and we had plenty of chances to stop and have a snack of blueberries and huckleberries along the trail. YUM!
My legs were starting to get a little tired and I was ready to be at the lake when we first spotted some water through the trees. There were campsites along the trail and we walked about halfway up the lake before we found an empty one with easy lake access. We lucked out and someone had built a little "bench" by the lake that was perfect for our picnic. Lucy liked the giant cooling pool/drinking bowl we walked to. HA HA We brought water for her, but she prefered the lake.
We had a picnic and soaked our tired feet in the cold water. There was just enough of a breeze coming off the lake to blow the biting flies away... for the most part. Pictures can't do justice to this place. It was gorgeous.
After lunch, I quickly reloaded everything back into the packs and we got our hiking shoes back on. We had hoped to be able to see Mt. Daniel from the lake, but we couldn't see it from our picnic spot. It's behind that saddle above Dan's head in that last picture up there. So we decided to keep heading up the trail to see if we could see it from the top of the lake.
I had some wobbly legs when we got started and I began to worry about being able to make it up there and still have enough energy left to get back to the car. We walked along a small catwalk above the lake and ran into some other hikers coming down from Deception Pass. While we stood on the side of the trail to let them pass, I thought about those 20-something, good looking young men huffing and puffing up the hill on the other side. (not those kind of thoughts!) I decided that if they were huffing that much, there was no way I would survive that climb back up so I headed back to another campsite by the lake we had passed and Dan went on to see if he could spot the mountain. He couldn't. :( But he did get these nice pictures of the top of the lake.
While he and Lucy were gone, I sat by the lake and looked at the mountains. Well, I sat for about a minute. Then the flies would swarm and you had to run around the campsite to make them fly away. Then I could sit for another minute. Oh the joys of the back country. :)
It was then I realized that my sunglasses weren't on my hat anymore. I remembered setting them down while I made our picnic, but I couldn't remember picking them back up. I might have had them on my hat when I took it off to swat at flies and the glasses flew off into the bushes or something. When Dan and Lucy showed up, I told Dan about my glasses and we decided to go back to our picnic spot and look for them on the way back down.
We got back to the spot and a woman and her kids had already taken over our spot. Dan went down there to look while I waited back in the campsite with Lucy so she wouldn't bother them. Dan looked around the bench, but there were no glasses. I could hear the woman offering to keep an eye out if Dan wanted to leave her an address or phone number. I shouted through the bushes that the glasses were cheap and I didn't care about them, but just didn't want to leave them there if they were just sitting in the grass. I had other glasses in the car, but I sure loved those old ones. Oh well.
It was getting really hot by then and both of us were melting. There was one long section of trail that was in the sun, but with bushes on either side of you about 7 feet tall. No wind. Hot sun. Narrow trail. UGH!! Both of us were grunting and groaning and could really only manage to say "HOT!!" But then we saw the big creek crossing where I took my shoes off on the way up and knew we were almost back at the car. That gave us a new burst of energy and soon we could see light reflecting off car windshields through the trees. YAY!
After two years of worrying about being able to do this hike....
I MADE IT!!!!!
We changed out of our wet shoes and into sandals, unloaded food back into the cooler and began the drive back down to civilization. My diet coke tasted really good.
Back to Seattle, where a quick lane change by Dan saved us from most of the traffic at the stadium. We got to the ferry a little after 6pm and hoped to get on the 6:20 boat. We did, but the boat was late and didn't leave until 7:05. We were both so tired, so we stopped and grabbed a couple of burritos for dinner and headed home.
Dan unloaded the car while I took a quick and much needed shower. Dan took a shower while I put stuff away and got dinner ready to eat. We crashed out in front of the TV until both of us were ready for bed.
Big day! Fun day! Good hike!
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