Last weekend I had the opportunity to take a watercolor class with someone I have admired since seeing her artwork. I have been following the artist Nikki Frumkin on her on Facebook and Instagram @DrawnToHighPlaces after seeing images of her watercolor paintings. She creates beautiful paintings and sketches while climbing, backpacking, and hiking in the Pacific Northwest. It was a pleasure meeting her and learning new techniques alongside other like minded people. What a truly inspiring experience!
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.
8+ miles round trip / 700′ elevation gain
Have you ever had the feeling you’ve been somewhere before? As my husband and I turned off the highway towards the Boulder River trailhead parking, we had that exact feeling. Once we parked and started making our way down the Boulder River trail we knew we had made this hike before, or at least we had tried. Two years ago we headed down that very same trail, only to be turned around by unsafe, icy trail conditions which we were not prepared for; but that was not the case on this day. Although our drive into the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest was slowed down by thick, dense fog, as we made our way down the forest road the fog cleared and blue skies appeared.
Even though the air was a bit frigid with temperatures in the high 30’s, trail conditions were perfect. With the recent large amounts of rain we have been receiving in the Pacific Northwest, Boulder River was thundering along the trail throughout our entire hike. The abundance of rain also resulted in beautiful, cascading waterfalls speckled along the way. The trail ascends slowly along the river making for an easy day hike.
After a few miles we rested beside Boulder River enjoying the sounds of a small, cascading waterfall. We returned to the trail and made our way around the next bend to find a much larger, even more captivating waterfall. It was mesmerizing – I couldn’t take my eyes off of it!
Once we peeled ourselves away from the beauty of the falls, we continued along the trail winding through the forest with the sounds of the river as our soundtrack. The short winter day had the sun dipping behind the mountains early in the afternoon. After nearly 4+ miles we decided it was time to turn around and head back towards the parking area not quite making it to the end of the trail.
With plans to make our return a trail run, my husband and I stripped down to our running gear and stuffed our warmer layers into our packs. We made our way along the trail this time moving more swiftly jumping over the boulders and small creek crossings along the way. Even though it was mostly a descent back towards the trailhead, at times the trail climbed upwards slowing me down to a light jog or even walking on occasion. The backdrop of cascading waterfalls and the sound of the booming Boulder River made for an exhilarating, breathtaking trail run. We arrived back at our car just in time as the warmth of the sun was being stripped away by nightfall. As we headed back towards Seattle the dense fog that had dissipated late that morning returned as if it was waiting for us to leave the trail.