Friday, November 12, 2010

Lake 22 - Mountain Loop Hwy

When I woke this morning wrapped in my warm fleece sheets and with the beginnings of a migraine coming on, I wasn't sure I was really up to a hike.  I had to get up anyway though to take my son to school so I dosed up on coffee and ibuprofen and decided to give it a try.  Good decision!
This may be one of my new favorite trails.  I got there around 9:30 and I was the first car in the lot. Cedar and I had the trail mostly to ourselves the entire time.  It was raining when we got there and the temperature was in the 40's.  Cedar wore his new hiking coat, lined with fleece and waterproof, snowproof, mudproof, etc.  He didn't look very happy when I put it on, but it was obvious that he was a happier warmer dog on this hike than he had been on some of our other outings in the rain.
Just a few minutes into this hike and there was a stream not only crossing the trail, but flowing a few feet down it before veering off.  The stream bed and the trail were the same thing.  I was enchanted.  This turned out to be something that occurred so frequently on this trail that at one point Cedar started to walk up a creek, just assuming that because it had water flowing over it, it must be the trail. It was so fun to be walking through all these streams, burbling jubilantly down the hill to join up with the Pilchuck River. 
One of the only bridges was across the largest stream, a very strong and frothing Creek 22.
 There were numerous falls along Creek 22, but most were hidden from view and where the trail neared it, it was treacherously steep and slippery so I couldn't really get closer.  The sound of the water roaring through the woods was a nice audio track for my walk.
The trail climbs fairly gradually through the forest and then up some switchbacks through a slide area.  We kept a pretty good pace and I didn't notice the climb much until I found I was stumbling over some of the loose stones because my legs didn't want to pick my feet up anymore. We slowed a little, but it flattened out a bit after that anyway. 
As we got up into the upper slide area, I started seeing some tiny pockets of slush leftover from the season's first snowfall.  I didn't think I would see any, because the snow level had gone up to 5000 ft and I think this lake is at around 2500.  The patches got larger and this was Cedar's first snow.  He bit it, rolled in it, dug it up and got all frisky.  It was really cute to see.  It made me happy too, because I was hoping that there would be some at the lake, and now I was sure there would be.
When we came out of the woods at the lake I was wowed.  The lake is right up against these cliffs that rose up into the clouds, and everything was mostly covered with snow, which reflected perfectly in the lake- a black and white world of majestic beauty. 
The trail looped around the lake and it was pretty much covered with slushy snow.  As I neared the cliff side, it loomed up so steeply that there were moments that it appeared to lean over the lake.  A few waterfalls cascaded off of high places, seeming to turn into mist and never make it all the way down.
At the far side of the lake was a chunk of ice and snow that had obviously not melted off in at least a year.  It was like a miniature glacier.
About 3/4 of the way around the lake I heard a noise like someone dumping a wheelbarrow full of gravel and looked up just in time to see a small avalanche of little rocks and snow fall down.  I think this is likely a dangerous area to be when there is enough snowpack to have mess-you-up size avalanches.
Back down the trail into the woods and the sun had come out and lit up all the hanging moss, glittered on all the rain drops that clung to the trees, and in some areas beautiful views of the valley had opened up.  This was an excellent day off.  : )

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous pics. After my mountainside hike last weekend, I'm even more impressed with these hikes you're taking. Keep working up for that big ol' mountain sis!