165 – Sauk Mountain

Having camped at the Gorge Creek Campground after we hiked to Blue Lake – Rainy Pass the day before (see #164 – Blue Lake – Rainy Pass), this was the day we were finally (finally!) going to hike the Sauk Mountain Trail. It was a long drive up a steep, twisted, rutted, more-or-less one-lane gravel road to the trailhead of Sauk Mountain, but once we pulled into the parking lot and took in the view, we were in awe. We had been experiencing several days of thick, lingering fog in the lower elevations, and what a treat to have gained enough elevation to escape that dreary fog. This is the view right out of the parking lot – thick clouds below with clear, blue sky over head. Perfect!

Trailhead view . . .

Trailhead view . . .

At the Sauk Mountain trailhead.

Sauk Mountain trailhead

Sauk Mountain trailhead

It’s always nice to have facilities at the trailhead, and this has got to be one of the prettiest toilets with the grandest view I have ever seen!

Chalet lu . . . with a view

Chalet lu . . . with a view

The trail climbs up – constantly, up, up, up.

The climb

The climb

For approximately 1,000′, it’s nothing but switchbacks, up, up, up.

Colorful switchbacks

Colorful switchbacks

There’s a beautiful view of Mount Baker from the switchbacks leading to the top of Sauk Mountain.

Mount Baker from the trail

Mount Baker from the trail

We could see where the Sauk River meets the Skagit River as we climbed up those switchbacks.

Where the Sauk River meets the Skagit River

Where the Sauk River meets the Skagit River

And here’s Mount Shuksan from the Sauk Mountain Trail.

Mount Shuksan from Sauk Mountain

Mount Shuksan from Sauk Mountain

From the top of Sauk Mountain, there is a junction to another trail that will take you close to 1,000′ down again to the shore of Sauk Lake. Although there are said to be a couple of nice campsites near the lake, I doubt if that lake gets many visitors as the trail did not look very well traveled. It’s a pretty little lake.

Sauk Lake from Sauk Mountain

Sauk Lake from Sauk Mountain

We ran into snow on the back side of Sauk Mountain.

Autumn color along the trail

Autumn color along the trail

This is an in and back hike (or in this case, up and down!), we turned around to make the hike back down to the trailhead.

All downhill from here

All downhill from here

But of course, not before we sat and took in the view as we enjoyed the picnic lunch we’d packed in our backpacks.

Autumn color . . . along the Sauk Mountain trail

Autumn color . . . along the Sauk Mountain trail

Sauk Mountain is the site of a former fire lookout, so the views are spectacular, making this very popular hike well worth the effort. For more information and driving directions to the trailhead, go here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/sauk-mountain. In the winter months, the Sauk Mountain Road is a popular snowshoe destination as well. Go here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/sauk-mountain-snowshoe – for more information on snowshoeing there. The views are spectacular along that road, so I can see why it is popular for snowshoeing too. Happy Trails!

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164 – Blue Lake – Rainy Pass

Having recently upgraded from a two-person, three season tent to a three-person, four season tent and anxious to give that new tent of ours a try in the great outdoors, we car camped along the beautiful Gorge Lake at the Gorge Lake Campgrounds. Not far from Rainy Pass, the Gorge Lake Campgrounds is our favorite over the more popular (and crowded and noisy) Colonial Creek Campground. Gorge Lake Campgrounds sits enough off of Highway 20 and, protected by Gorge Lake, doesn’t suffer from all the traffic noise that often interrupts the beauty of the Colonial Creek Campground, and since it’s such a small campgrounds, it has a more wilderness-like feeling to it. We left home early in the morning on our two-hour drive to the campgrounds, and it was all but empty when we arrived.

New tent at Gorge Lake

New tent at Gorge Lake

Once our camp was set up, we headed to the Blue Lake trailhead to hike.

Blue Lake trailhead . . .

Blue Lake trailhead . . .

There was a little snow on the boardwalk leading into the forest, but we were expecting snow and were well prepared with both our snowshoes and ice trekkers.

Along the trail

Along the trail

We were in search of the golden larches, and it felt like we hit the jackpot!

Golden larches

Golden larches

The trail was an easy thousand foot elevation gain over its just over two miles to the lake, and as we got higher, more snow covered our path. The snow was crusty so our ice trekkers made for great traction.

(pic by Kenton Doughty)

(pic by Kenton Doughty)

Sunshine, golden larches, snow, a beautiful day and the best hiking partner, who would ask for anything more?

Along the trail

Along the trail

Blue Lake was pretty much frozen solid, and in a position that was mostly shaded, so the larches weren’t showing as brilliantly gold as the ones along the trail to the lake, but it certainly was a lovely, alpine lake. We sat above the lake and enjoyed a picnic lunch before heading back down to the trailhead.

(pic by Kenton Doughty)

(pic by Kenton Doughty)

Kent Doughty, at Blue Lake.

Kent Doughty at Blue Lake

Kent Doughty at Blue Lake

This was the second Blue Lake we’ve hiked to recently. The other Blue Lake is on the way to Dock Butte (go here #161 – Dock Butte & Blue Lake – to read about that hike), and this one is by Rainy Pass. Go here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/blue-lake – for information about the Blue Lake, Rainy Pass hike, and here – http://www.nps.gov/noca/planyourvisit/camping.htm#CP_JUMP_628809 – for information about the Gorge Lake Campgrounds. There are even more Blue Lakes in Washington, it would be fun to hike to all of them.

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163 – Olympia – Waterfront Walk – Port of Olympia & Fiddlehead Marina

Just because it was business that took us to Olympia didn’t mean that we couldn’t take time out to explore some of their urban trails too. We like the charm of Olympia and could easily relocate there, so we did our best to add in as much outdoor, urban trail time as possible between the business sort of commitments of our day.  Having thoroughly explored the Capitol grounds and buildings earlier in the day (see #162 – Olympia Capitol Buildings & Grounds), next on our list was their lovely Waterfront Walk along the Port of Olympia and Fiddlehead Marina.

At the kissing statue

At the kissing statue

There is a lovely boardwalk along the dock at Fiddlehead Marina.

Dock at Fiddlehead Marina

Dock at Fiddlehead Marina

We were “here”!

We are "here"

We are “here”

Fiddlehead Marina, beautiful – even on an overcast day.

Fiddlehead Marina

Fiddlehead Marina

I admired the houseboats docked at Fiddlehead Marina.

I could live HERE

I could live HERE

Live entertainment was provided by this playful little harbor seal. So sweet!

Harbor seal swimming

Harbor seal swimming

For more information on the Port of Olympia, Fiddlehead Marina and this walk, visit the Port of Olympia website here – http://www.portolympia.com/.

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162 – Olympia – Capitol Building and Grounds

Visiting Olympia on business, we planned our trip to include plenty of extra time so that we could enjoy the city. In many ways, Olympia is similar to my home town of Bellingham. It’s rather like a small version of Bellingham and I always feel right at home there. I enjoy the fact that it’s not as congested nor crowded, that it doesn’t seem to still be stuck in the trying-to find-it’s-new identity mode like Bellingham, it’s quaint, composed, classy and to me has more sophistication and charm than you can find further north. It was the season for fall colors, and even on an overcast, drizzly day, colors were intense.

Having a great time, wish you were here

Having a great time, wish you were here

We spent several hours along the paths and trails throughout the Capitol grounds before heading into some of the official Capitol buildings for our own, private tour. We covered a lot of ground!

Our State Capitol buildings . . .

Our State Capitol buildings . . .

Then we went inside for our own, private tour of some of the Capitol buildings.

At the door to the Legislative Building

At the door to the Legislative Building

We were surrounded by beautiful marble.

Looking down

Looking down

And lots more detail.

Capitol building details

Capitol building details

Then it was time for lunch – a working lunch on the Capitol grounds. Others were out on their lunch breaks getting fresh air and exercise along the trails through the Capitol grounds, and some were repeatedly running up and down the steps of the Legislative Building for their daily workout (who needs a gym anyway?).

Computing on the Capitol grounds

Computing on the Capitol grounds

Go here -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_State_Capitol – for information on Olympia, the Washington State Capitol.

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161 – Dock Butte and Blue Lake

Dock Butte has been on our list of hikes to get around to doing for quite some time so when we learned that the snow was lingering there, we grabbed our snowshoes hoping for a chance to use them. We also brought our ice trekkers, because the temperatures had dropped since that first snowfall and since snowshoes do better in fresh powder than on ice, there was a good possibility that the snow on Dock Butte would be crusted over and the ice trekkers would give us safer footing on some of the snow-covered side slopes. Either way, we were prepared. Here we are, at the trailhead for Blue Lake.

Blue Lake Trailhead

Blue Lake Trailhead

After less than a mile along the Blue Lake trail, we took a side trail that would take us to Dock Butte. Sometimes almost completely covered with stray roots, the trail to Dock Butte is a less traveled trail and not as well maintained as the more popular trails. It is a well enough worn track though and we managed to find our way without too much difficulty.

A trail of roots

A trail of roots

If you are looking for more hikes in the Baker Lake area, I highly recommend putting this trail on your gotta-get-to list. Just look at the wonderful view of Mount Baker from along the way.

Mount Baker

Mount Baker

It wasn’t too long before we hit snow. It was frozen solid and at times even a bit difficult to push in the trekking pole into, so it didn’t look like we would get the opportunity to use our snowshoes on this hike after all.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on the trail

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on the trail

I was very glad that we had brought our ice trekkers though. The snow along this long sideslope was frozen solid and in places, the footpath through the snow might not have been wide enough for snowshoes. I stepped carefully and with the help of my poles, and the occasional hand from Kent, felt safe and secure during this crossing.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on sideslope

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on sideslope

Many of the tarns we passed were partially frozen. I like how Kent Doughty caught my reflection in this one.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose by reflective tarn

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose by reflective tarn

One of our favorite lunches when out hiking just happens to be leftover pizza. Having made a pizza covered in black bean, chicken breast, mushrooms, olives and cheese the evening before, these leftovers seemed even tastier than usual as we sat below Dock Butte to eat. Once the site of a fire lookout, we savored every tasty bite as we replenished the calories we had exhausted during our climb to get such a magnificant view. With so many of our favorite local peaks visible, it was such a lovely spot for lunch!

Pizza picnic time . . .

Pizza picnic time . . .

After our picnic, we hiked back down to re-join the trail to Blue Lake so we could check out the lake too.

The trail to Blue Lake

The trail to Blue Lake

A very deep lake and said to have some good trout fishing, guess we’d better bring our backpacker fishing poles next time. :-)

Blue Lake . . . reflections

Blue Lake . . . reflections

Driving directions with road and trail conditions and more information about the trail to Dock Butte and Blue Lake can be found on the Mount. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website. Go here – http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mbs/recarea/?recid=17610 – for that, and for recent trip reports on the Washington Trails Association website, go here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/dock-butte. The Dock Butte trail is rated as “more difficult”, most likely due to its lack of regular maintenance than length (only about 4 miles round trip) and elevation gain/loss (only 1,400′).

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160 – Eight Mile Lakes

Car camping at the Ida Creek Campgrounds (go here – Car Camping at Ida Creek Campgrounds – to read about that) in the Leavenworth area after our backpacking trip into the Enchantments (go here – Backpacking the Enchantments – to read more about our Enchantments trip) so we could enjoy another day of hiking before making the long drive home, Eight Mile Lakes was our destination. Getting there was an easy drive up a well-maintained gravel road. The morning sun lighting the fall colors along the way was a special treat!

Driving to the trailhead

Driving to the trailhead

Ready to make the 6.6 mile hike up another trail, we paused long enough at the trailhead to snap this photo.

Trailhead

Trailhead

The trail made a steady climb and often we passed through open areas with impressive looking pines.

Passing tall pines . . . along the trail

Passing tall pines . . . along the trail

We stopped to refill our hydration units with fresh water from Eight Mile Creek.

Purifying water from Eight Mile Creek

Purifying water from Eight Mile Creek

We passed some impressively sized boulders along the way.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose along the trail

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose along the trail

And crossed a few streams.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Stream crossing

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Stream crossing

Reaching the first of the two Eight Mile Lakes, called Little Eight Mile Lake, we continued around this lake to make the final climb to the upper Eight Mile Lake.

Little Eight Mile Lake

Little Eight Mile Lake

The last stretch was steep and took us through an area recently burned by forest fire.

Climbing to reach the next Eight Mile Lake

Climbing to reach the next Eight Mile Lake

It seemed worth our effort to make the climb to Big Eight Mile Lake as it was truly a beauty. We stopped for a picnic lunch on the shore and basked in the afternoon sunshine before turning around and heading back to the trailhead.

Big Eight Milie Lake

Big Eight Milie Lake

It had been a long hike with approximately 1,300′ of elevation gain, so Snickers bars made the perfect high-energy quick snack to help us power back down to the parking lot.

Time for a power snack - Snickers

Time for a power snack – Snickers

For more information and recent trip reports for the hike to Eight Mile Lakes on the Washington Trails Association website, go here -http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/eightmile-lake.

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159 – Backpacking the Enchantments – On to Ida Creek

If you’ve been following the blog posts about our backpacking trip into the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, you already know that it was not the fact that the Government was in the middle of its 2013 shutdown that kept us from entering the inner core of the Enchantments but an early snowfall with lingering cold temperatures that caused a buildup of ice on the rebar steps over giant granite slabs that prevented us from going any further than the Lower and Upper Snow Lakes. If you missed that story, go here -http://60before60.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/63-snow-lakes/ – and you’ll be caught up in a flash. Meanwhile, we had the week off and enough food and gear with us for that week, so what did we do? We packed up and decided to move on.

4,000' Up - 4,000' Down

4,000′ Up – 4,000′ Down

Enjoying the views along the trail as we make our way back down to the trailhead.

Along the trail . . .

Along the trail . . .

And it was like any other day on the trail – absolutely beautiful!

The view . . . from the trail

The view . . . from the trail

Having fun along the trail . . .

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Along the trail

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Along the trail

The fall colors in the thick understory were a welcome treat to the eyes as we entered a lower elevation forest previously lost to a forest fire.

All ong the trail

All ong the trail

Even though the Government shutdown was still in progress and all Government campgrounds were closed, as it turned out, the management of some of the campgrounds in the National Forests is contracted out to private companies, so there were several in the Leavenworth area that were open for business. Car camping this time rather than backpacking, here’s our campsite at Ida Creek.

Fall colors at our camp

Fall colors at our camp

As usual, we find beautiful places to eat.

Dining on the beach at camp

Dining on the beach at camp

The Ida Creek Campground is in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Leavenworth, WA. Go here – http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/okawen/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=58815&actid=31 – for more information on this campgrounds. Keep them in mind if you ever find yourself looking for a campground in the National Forest in the Leavenworth area and the Government is in the middle of a shutdown. It’s a beauty!

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158 – Snow Lakes

Camping near Nada Lake during our backpacking trip into the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (go here – http://60before60.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/62-backpacking-the-enchantments-snow-lakes-trail-to-nada-lake/ – to read about our hike to Nada Lake), isn’t this quite the view to enjoy while sipping the morning cup of coffee? With a view like this, it was almost easy to disregard the fact that even though the sun was shining, it was only 27 degrees F and our little tent had frost on top of its rainfly. We knew it was going to be cold during the night the day before when we packed in, so came prepared with plenty of warm layers of polar fleece clothing. I had even brought a few of those packets of Hot Hands hand warmers and tossed a couple into the bottom of my sleeping bag before turning in for the night. I slept very comfortably, and was glad I had warm feet.

Morning coffee at Nada Lake

Morning coffee at Nada Lake

Not long after we had finished our morning coffee and breakfast, we began to see more hikers heading in, and others packing out. The weather forecast had indicated that the conditions would be improving after that first day of snow and cold, and it appeared that even though the Government was in the middle of a shut down, word was getting out that the Alpine Lakes Wilderness was not one of those Government areas that was closed. This was a National wilderness area, and while the toilet building at the trailhead was padlocked and had a sign on its door that it was closed due to the Government shutdown, the parking lot at the trailhead was open, there were no barricades anywhere, there were no armed guards like some people were saying were guarding some of the National Parks and Monuments, and this Wilderness was open for business.

Hikers along Nada Lake

Hikers along Nada Lake

Some of the hikers stopped by our camp as they passed by Nada Lake to take a short break and enjoy the view and shared with us what they knew about the trail conditions near Snow Lakes. The two Snow Lakes were about 1,400′ higher in elevation than where we were at Nada Lake, and as we had feared, it was reported that the snow there was at least six to to eight inches deep. Some of the hikers were heading back down to the trailhead because snow and ice was built up to such a degree on the rebar steps on the huge granite slabs that must be crossed, making entry into the inner core area of Enchantments impossible. Our original plan was to pack up our camp after breakfast and move to one of the campsites at Lower Snow Lakes so we would be in a better position for day hikes into the inner core area, but the idea of camping on snow and not being able to go any further didn’t sound very appealing. Instead, we changed our plans and decided to simply keep our lovely campsite there at Nada Lake and day hike up and back to the Snow Lakes instead. Here’s a view looking back at Nada Lake as we started up the trail Snow Lakes.

High above Nada Lake

High above Nada Lake

This photo is from one of my favorite sections of the trail. As I mentioned before, the Snow Lakes are about 1,400′ higher in elevation than Nada Lake, so as we continued to climb along the trail, we continued to find more and more snow. This photo was taken about where it became necessary to put our ice trekkers on our boots for better traction along the ice covered talus. I particularly enjoyed this part of the trail as I stood next to this snow topped boulder. The snow its roof, it reminded me of a little house.

(Pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on talus

(Pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow on talus

Because of the recent low temperatures, Upper Snow Lake was frozen over. Its water was so low, with a big bathtub ring, it seemed more like a puddle to me, and I was glad that we had kept our campsite down at Nada Lake. I felt we had the better reflective view for coffee and knew the temperature wasn’t as cold where we had camped, but how about that mountain peak behind Upper Snow lake? I thought it quite impressive!

Upper Snow Lake

Upper Snow Lake

We had brought a picnic lunch with us on this hike and sat on the shore of the Lower Snow Lake on a boulder warmed by the afternoon sun as we ate our lunch.

Picnic spot at Lower Snow Lake

Picnic spot at Lower Snow Lake

After lunch we explored around the two Snow Lakes a bit before making our way back down the snowy trail to our camp at Nada Lake.

Trekking back . . .

Trekking back . . .

Seems we often come to a stream with not quite a bridge over it when we are out hiking, and this trail was no exception. Here, Kent Doughty offers me his hand as I step down to the log that has become this stream crossing yet  is nearly completely submerged. Thank you sweetheart!

Kent Doughty offers me a hand when crossing the stream

Kent Doughty offers me a hand when crossing the stream

More information about the trail to Snow Lakes can be found on the Washington Trails Association website here -http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/snow-lakes .

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157 – Backpacking the Enchantments – Snow Lakes Trail to Nada Lake

Right up until the moment that we put on our backpacks in the parking lot by the trailhead, we felt fortunate to be able to go on this particular backpacking trip, yet not quite sure that we could do it.  First off, the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is a very unique and fragile environment. To protect it, the U.S. Forest Service limits the number of backpackers allowed into the area at any given time by holding an annual lottery for permits. In order to obtain our permit, we submitted our application last February indicating the dates we desired, and did not find out until March if our permit was accepted. Also, at just over 4,000′ elevation gain over the six miles from the trailhead to where our permit allowed us to camp our first night out, this was the steepest and longest backpacking trip we had ever done. Our backpacks were heavier than usual as it had snowed the night before and weather forecasts predicted the temperature to drop to 27 degrees our first night out. We carried extra layers of warm clothes and more food than we usually packed for a week in the backcountry. We left the parking lot prepared for the snow that had already fallen and the low temperatures, planning on a tough day of hiking. Because the trailhead is about a four-hour drive from our home, the night before we headed to son Brian’s home as he lives just under an hour’s drive from the trail so we could begin our hike as early as possible. Here Maybee, Brian’s trusty dog, bids us her good-bye as we head out the door.

Kent Doughty saying goodbye to Maybee the Dog

Kent Doughty saying goodbye to Maybee the Dog

Then, it just so happened that the 2013 Government shutdown began the day before the date of our permitted trip, and with all National Parks closed, we didn’t even know for sure if we would be allowed on the trail. It wasn’t like we could simply call the parks office and ask them because, after all, their offices were closed and all unessential employees had been furloughed. We had stopped at the parks office in Leavenworth on our way to Brian’s the night before, and discovered a note taped to their window indicating that if people had printed out their permits, they should leave them on the dashboard of their vehicles and go on their trip. The Government websites had all been taken off-line a few days before, so if you had not printed your permit before the Government shutdown, it sounded like it was just too bad. Fortunately, we had printed our permit the weekend before we left home!

Foggy at the trailhead parking lot

Foggy at the trailhead parking lot

It had snowed the day before at the higher elevations, and because of the Government shutdown, getting accurate weather information and current snow levels and trail conditions was impossible, unless you ran into someone in the parking lot or something that had just come out of the area. We were lucky, and found a guy that had spent the night in his van because some of the campgrounds were also closed due to the Government shutdown when we arrived at the trailhead early that morning. He told us that he had been on a different trail near the area that was at about the same elevation and that in some places he had found himself plowing through shoulder high snow. He had also heard that Aasgard Pass was closed due to there being three-foot drifts of snow. Aasgard Pass is another, even steeper but shorter, way of entering the Enchantments – but seriously, if you know me at all, you would pretty much figure that any pass with a name that sounds even remotely like “Aasgard” (regardless of how it might be spelled!) is a route that I would avoid, and we had planned our route along the Snow Lakes Trail and planned to camp at Nada Lake the first night. We headed out from the trailhead expecting to run into snow at higher elevations near Nada Lake, and set off ready for a long, steep day of hiking.

With Kent Doughty at the trailhead

With Kent Doughty at the trailhead

First off, we crossed Icicle Creek.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose crossing Icicle Creek

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose crossing Icicle Creek

Then the trail started to climb. One switchback after another, up, up, up we hiked. By then, the fog had cleared and it was a beautiful blue-sky kind of day.

It's a steep trail with lots of switchbacks

It’s a steep trail with lots of switchbacks

We had lots of talus slopes to cross. Long, steep talus slopes, so were forever glad that they were not covered with ice and snow.

There were plenty of talus slope trails

There were plenty of talus slope trails

Four thousand feet of elevation gain over six miles of trail makes for a long hike – especially considering that for this trip, my pack weighed in at somewhere over forty pounds. Whew, I needed a little break here before continuing on.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Taking a break on the climb up

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Taking a break on the climb up

The views were beautiful along the trail. Great views always seem to make it a little easier for me – especially on long, steep trails. I think this is a view of the famous Aasgard Pass. Just look at all that fresh snow! I couldn’t imagine my climbing that one with this pack!

View from the trail

View from the trail

After awhile, we had gained enough elevation that we started hitting snow and ice on those talus slopes. Fortunately, I had brought my trekking pole and had ice trekkers handy in my pack if the going got slippery.

Snow and ice on the talus trail

Snow and ice on the talus trail

Yep, before long, the trail was completely covered with snow, and it was cold. Time to pull out the neck gator, hat and warm gloves.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow at higher elevations along the trail

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow at higher elevations along the trail

Finally! We reached Nada Lake and found a spot that was relatively snow free in which to set up camp.

Setting up camp at Nada Lake

Setting up camp at Nada Lake

Not a bad view of Nada Lake from camp as we sipped hot chocolate and ate a vegetable soup for dinner.

Nada Lake from Camp

Nada Lake from Camp

For more information on obtaining a permit to hike into the Enchantments and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, go here –   http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/okawen/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fsbdev3_053607 . Stay tuned, we were here for a week, and had some great day hikes – and more!

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156 – Backpacking Goat Rocks Wilderness – Back to Berry Patch & on to Mount Rainier National Park

This was the last day in our backpacking trip into the Goat Rocks Wilderness, so after coffee and breakfast we packed up our camp there in the Jordan Basin to begin our hike back to the trailhead.

Packed up and ready to head out

Packed up and ready to head out

The weather was spectacular and the views absolutely incredible. It was such a wonderful trail with views of not one, but three major mountains as we worked our way back down to the trailhead. First, Mount Saint Helens, then Mount Adams and finally, Mount Rainier! In reality, it was a long trail, our packs felt very heavy on our backs, we had been out on this backpacking trip for six days and there were many ups and downs in elevation along the way; but with views like that, I didn’t really mind. Later, back at home, back to reality, my calves were a bit tender for the next couple of days after that hike. Good toning I told myself!

Mount Saint Helens --- Mount Adams -- Mount Ranier

Mount Saint Helens — Mount Adams — Mount Rainier

It really was beautiful along the trail.

Along the trail

Along the trail

We reached the trailhead parking lot around noon and hungry after our hike out, headed to the nearby Chambers Lake for a picnic and coffee. We appeared to have the entire lake to ourselves, and what a treat it was to sit on the shore of such a peaceful lake to relax after a long hike before we had to make the six-hour drive back to our home.

Coffee time at Chamber Lake

Coffee time at Chamber Lake

Why go straight home we asked each other, so we decided to take the scenic route! We followed the highway right through Mount Rainier National Park and took in all those wonderful sights too. There were tunnels, mountain peaks and a beautiful National forest to enjoy.

Driving through Mount Ranier National Park

Driving through Mount Ranier National Park

Go here -http://60before60.wordpress.com/?s=goat+rocks – to read about our entire backpacking trip in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, and here -http://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm  – for information about Mount Rainier National Park.

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