Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Backpacking: Goat Lake

Goat Lake

Location: Goat Lake, Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Dates Backpacked: July 8-9, 2017
Miles hiked 10.4 miles +
Elevation Gain: 1400 ft
Difficulty: Pretty Easy besides the distance

Cody and I originally wanted to backpack Eagle Creek in Oregon this weekend, but while researching the hike and overnighting camping spots, I called the ranger station and they advised that there was a wildfire going nearby and not to backpack in the area. So we came up with a backup and headed out to Goat Lake instead.

Cody and I left Seattle Saturday morning at 5:40 am for Goat Lake Trailhead. From reading the most recent trip reports, and seeing people's posts on social media, I knew it was going to get busy and crowded, so I wanted to get there as early as possible to snag a good camp spot. We got to trail head by 7:20 am, and there were already 12 cars there. But that's not that many compared to Sunday when we left and there were 50+ cars parked at trailhead and along the road.

Within the 1st 10 minutes of the hike, you hit a trail split, Upper Elliot, and Lower Elliot; both take you to the lake and are the same distance. So we chose to hike Lower Elliot to the lake, and Sunday we took Upper Elliot to the trailhead. Lower is more wet and forested, while Upper is more exposed and along a wider trail. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to hike to the lake and we only passed 1 hiker on the Lower Elliot trail. Once at the lake, we immediately looked for a good spot to set up camp. At this point it was a little before 11 am, and there were only 3-4 tents setup. So we picked a nice spot next to some bushes and good trees to throw up hammocks and pitched our tent. Then we headed to the lake to eat our lunch. You can keep hiking along the lake but the brush gets really dense and scratchy, and eventually we turned around after 20 min of hiking further in.

Cody and I headed back to our campsite after lunch and took long cat naps in our hammocks. We eventually woke up, and headed back to the lake for a quick swim. No fires are allowed at Goat Lake, so we made a hot dinner with my Jetboil. We tried Mountain House's Teriyaki Chicken this time and it was quite tasty! We also had a package of Curry Chicken ramen and that was delicious as well.

With the sun not setting until beyond 9 pm, and the sky not getting completely dark till almost 10 pm, you never realize how late it is until you look at your watch. We headed to bed shortly after dinner and called it a night.

Following morning, we slept in, ate breakfast, and packed up camp by 10:30 am. We got back to trailhead a little before 1 pm, and were amazed at how many cars there were when driving out! Glad we lost some sleep to snag a spot close to trailhead! Another great weekend with amazing weather!

Until next time Goat Lake!
Cody and I with our packs! 1 night, or 3 nights, it always fits lol
 Cody going up the trail
Pretty waterfalls on the way up
 Home is where you pitch it
 Not our tent, but the lighting seemed right
So many tents!
 About to stumble upon the lake
 Goat Lake is beautiful!
Log jam
Trying not to fall
I ALWAYS want to go swimming haha
Not cold not cold not cold...
 Hiking out
Informed by LoLo that these are wild fox gloves on the trail! So pretty!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Exploring Oregon: South Sister & Lava Lake

South Sister, 10,358 ft tall. 3rd tallest mountain in Oregon.

Date Camped: July 1, 2017
Campground: Lava Lake Campground
Hiked: near South Sister to Morraine Lake
Miles hiked: 4.3 miles
Distance from Seattle to South Sister: 356 miles, roughly 7 hours one way

South Sister has been high on my list of "To Visits", and I got it in my head months prior that I wanted to head down that way around July 4th. So I booked a campsite... Well things didn't go as planned, I decided to work Monday and not take the day off to have an actual 4 day weekend, so this trip felt a little rushed, since we only had 2 days.

After working a full day Friday, Cody and I drove down to Eugene with the pup from Seattle and stayed in the sketchiest motel! But this motel was pet friendly and waved the pet fee.... I still don't think I'd stay there again though lol. The room stank of cigarette smoke, the bed felt like cardboard with extremely flat pillows, and the place just felt dirty. Not even worth the $60.... (So be warned, DO NOT stay at Crossland Economy Studios in Eugene, OR)
Sketchiest motel everrr
The next morning, we got a slow start due to getting into Eugene past midnight, we grabbed breakfast at a local diner, The Pump CafĂ©, and hit the road for South Sister around 10 am. Which was another 2 hour drive. We decided to hike first before checking into our campground.
Yelp find! Delicious breakfast!
South Sister hike starts at Devil's Lake. There is a parking lot, but the trail is kind of weird, in that, once you park at the lot, you take the trail a couple hundred yards, then have to cross the road to continue onto South Sister. So technically you can park on the road to skip the first section. A parking pass is needed, we were able to use the national parks parking pass because we were in national forest territory. We were warned by volunteers that the trail is still extremely snowy. We were prepared with microspikes, so we weren't too worried. Within less than a mile we hit snow on the trail. Apparently it's perfect timing for backcountry skiing on South Sister right now. We saw sooo many people skinning up and skiers coming down! Because of how much snow there still is, we only hiked part way up, took some pictures, and turned back around. We saw only 2 hikers who actually summited who were not on skis. I definitely want to come back and summit South Sister in August or September.

After our hike, we headed to our campground which was 10 miles or so away. We checked in with the camp host, bought a bundle of wood and headed over to setup camp. We hung out by the lake for a little bit, made hot dogs for dinner & s'mores, and just had a relaxing night. The following morning we packed up for our long drive home. Overall, it was another great weekend spent in the great outdoors!

Until next time, South Sister!
 We hit snow within the first mile of the South Sister trail
South Sister, you are beautiful!
Home for the night
 South Sister in the distance at Lava Lake
 Lava Lake with Mt Batchelor in the distance
Good morning South Sister and Lava Lake!