7.7 miles round trip / 1167′ elevation gain
The rainy season has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest, but that hasn’t stop me from hitting the trails. A friend from the Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women Group asked if I’d like to join her on another mid-week hike, and I was thankful for the invitation. I headed towards the Iron Goat Trail anticipating a rainy trek even though the sun was trying to make its’ way into Seattle as I left. As I made my way towards Stevens Pass the weather turned to cloudy and rainy. My friend and I met in a completely empty parking lot with a slight break in the weather including hints of sunshine peaking through the clouds. The two of us weren’t fooled by the temptation of the sun and hit the trails wearing a final layer of wet weather gear.
After taking a class at REI last week learning to identify chanterelle mushrooms in the wild, I was excited to test my knowledge in the field. The conditions were perfect for mushroom hunting in Washington, and they were everywhere! Unfortunately, I didn’t find any chanterelles, but I did had a fun time trying.
We started our hike at the Martin Creek trail head making our way east along the lower grade. The pathway is wide, winding is way through the mossy forest. At times the warm colors of fall leaves blanketed the landscape.
After about 3 miles of hiking we arrived at another trail head and parking lot with a bright red restored railway car. We took a quick break and enjoyed reading about the history of the area on the posted interpretative signs and maps.
From this parking lot we took the Upper Loop Trail towards Windy Point. This section of the trail is much more primitive than the lower grade. It steeply climbs upwards, switching back and forth through the tress with their roots jutting out in every direction. By this time the rain had become steady, making the trail very muddy. After about a mile, the trail meets the upper grade where we chose to take the 1/4 mile journey making a right towards Windy Point viewpoint.
We took shelter from the rain inside a tunnel where we enjoyed lunch in a dry space. Several tunnels can be seen along the trail with signs warning hikers not to travel too far inside. The two of us made sure to pay attention to the signs only hiking in allowed areas.
We decided we didn’t have the time to hike the additional 3 miles and back to visit the Wellington Avalanche Disaster site. The two of us hiked back towards the trail head, this time taking the upper grade section of the trail. This portion of the path follows the remains of the railroad more closely, where at times the snow bridges become the trail itself.
The steady rain continued during last few miles of our hike creating large puddles in the middle of the pathway. I felt like a kid splashing my way down the trail, happy that I didn’t let the weather keep me from exploring the outdoors. I enjoyed photographing nature along the way with my new waterproof camera, not letting the weather get in the way of my art as well. It was fun to compare photographic shots with my hiking partner who also enjoys nature photography as she hikes.
As I reached the parking lot completely soaked from head to toe, I had learned a few lessons: 1. Get better wet weather gear! 2. Always have a clean, dry pair of clothes in the car for the drive home. 3. I will never let the rain keep me from going outside. I was so cold on my drive home that I stopped in Monroe to buy a sweater and a hot latte. By the time I reached Seattle that afternoon, the skies had opened up once more leaving the rain in the mountains behind me.
5.4 miles round trip / 1350′ elevation gain
This fall has been a great hiking season in the Pacific Northwest with incredible weather throughout September. I was excited when a friend contacted me about a mid-week hike to Lake 22 last month. She and I met through the Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women Group, which has been a great resource for meeting women who love the outdoors.
I left Seattle early in the morning and discovered how much I enjoy hiking mid-week. The highways were wide open as I headed north, with gridlocked traffic travelling in the opposite direction. In no time, I arrived to a mostly empty parking lot just as my hiking partner arrived. We layered up and hit the trail with a cool, crisp chill in the air anticipating to warm up quickly from the uphill hike.
The trail to the lake slowly climbs its’ way up into the forest switching back and forth through the trees. Once the trail crosses Twentytwo Creek, it continues alongside it with the sounds of rushing water always in the near distance. With several creek crossings along the way, many little waterfalls can often be seen and heard. At times the trail is taken over by the large tree roots jetting out from the sides. One long section of the trail crosses a large scree field and opens up to wide views of the valley below. It seemed like out of nowhere, Lake 22 appeared right in front of us dominating the landscape.
The two of us made our way along the shoreline of Lake 22 following the well maintained trails and boardwalks. After seeing a pika warning us to stay away from the the boulders below Mount Pilchuck, we found a shady spot nearby to rest and enjoy a quick snack. My hiking partner and I both enjoy nature and wildlife photography, so we had our cameras equipped and ready to shoot as we snacked and shared hiking stories by the lake shore. As we continued along down the trail, the sun was sparkling in the reflection of the lake waters.
Although we were virtually alone during the hike up to Lake 22, the trail was packed with fellow hikers as we made our way back down. With camera in hand, we stopped at each creek crossing hoping to get shots of the rushing waters we could hear in the distance. Unfortunately, many of the waterfalls are just out of reach for a good photograph, so mostly only mental pictures were taken.
We arrived to a very full parking lot in the early afternoon. I was happy to have enjoyed another beautiful day in the PNW with a new friend. With similar hiking styles and good conversation, I left hoping that this would our first of many adventures together.