Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Backpacking Rachel Lake

Alpine Lakes Wilderness
 Overgrown field of fern
 Fern Field
 8 people 3 dog deep
The hikers missing the dogs
Our campsite for the night
Yes! There's a toilet in the wilderness!
Until you see what the "toilet" actually looks like...
Rachel Lake from the trail above
 On our way to Rampart Lakes
Such different terrain up here
 Dinner for 2
The Clarks hammocking
 I'm hammocking while Loki sits guard at the tent
This was taken around 9:30 pm, still some light out!
 Rachel Lake Trail, harder than we expected
Pure happiness walking back to the car

Date Hiked: July 9-10, 2016
Trail & Location: Rachel Lake Trail in Cle Elum, WA (about 1.5 hrs from Seattle)
Mileage hiked: 11 miles
Elevation Gain: 2200 ft
Difficulty: harder than we thought

Sarina mentioned her husband Ryan, had July 9th weekend off, and so we decided to plan a one night backpacking trip for this weekend. Well, the beginnings of a 3 person overnight trip turned into 6 backpackers, 2 day hikers, and 3 dog trek. Which, in my mind, the more the merrier! We had wanted to do Blanca Lake, but due to rain in the forecast we settled on Rachel Lake.

So Saturday morning, we all agreed to meet at the trail head at 9 am. Pretty easy drive out to the area on the I-90 until you get off on Kachess Lake Rd. The dirt road out to the trail head is full of potholes. Beautiful drive along Little Kachess Lake though! A pretty big lot at the trail head, including a vault toilet.

The first part of the trail was pretty easy, a little bit of incline in the beginning with some stream crossings, then it flattens out, and you go through some lush overgrown fern meadows. What got us was the last mile or so of the trail. It all of a sudden becomes steep, you have to cross some bigger water crossings, then follow the creek upward, then you get a trail again.... the group lost the trail at one point, but another hiker pointed us in the right direction, Then after the struggle, you're at the lake! Woohoo! I was also excited there was a sign for a toilet, what I didn't expect was a wooden box over a hole, in which that would be considered a true pit toilet.... I opted to squat than to use that thing lol.

We found a big enough area next to the lake to pitch 3 tents and 3 hammocks. We ate some lunch, rested a bit, then 5 of us decided to wander a little further up the trail to explore Rampart Lakes, which was another 1.5 miles up. Rachel Lake and Rampart Lakes both are part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. Such different terrain up at Rampart Lakes, it was gorgeous though! Definitely want to go back and camp up there. We came across some volunteer rangers who had caught some rainbow trout in the lakes and were posted up for the night up at Rampart. Only downside about camping at Rampart and Rachel is that fires are not allowed 1/2 mile near the lake and above 5000 ft.

We hiked back to Rachel Lake before dark, ate dinner, made some s'mores, hammocked and enjoyed the company and called it a night.

Following morning, we stayed in our tents a little later than usual due to rain, made breakfast, and packed up camp while it was drizzling and hiked out. Packing up a wet tent and tarp btw is not the funnest. We got back to the trail head around 1:30 pm.

Overall, the overnighter went great. The dogs got along, we made new friends, and the weather wasn't too terrible! I still have a lot to see in Washington, but so far Alpine Lakes Wilderness is my favorite. It's just so lush and Beautiful!

Until next time Cle Elum!

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