Thursday, April 4, 2019

Spring Backpacking: Ancient Lakes Round 4

Being in eastern Washington makes you feel like you're not in WA anymore

This past weekend was my 4th year in a row backpacking to Ancient Lakes in the early spring. Because we go every year, I feel packing gets easier, I know what to bring and what not to bring, and once there, I kinda know what to expect from the trip. So this blog is going to be a rundown of what trailhead I like to start at, where to camp, and what not about the Ancient Lakes area!

If you would like to read my previous blog posts about backpacking Ancient Lakes, click here (2016) and here (2017), apparently I skipped 2018.

Ancient & Dusty Lake Trailhead

There are multiple trailheads to access Ancient Lakes. For the past 4 years in a row, we have accessed Ancient Lakes by the Ancient & Dusty Lake Trailhead. I personally favor this one because the hike to the lake is relatively flat, along a maintained trail, and takes about 40 minutes to get to where we like to set up camp. About a 2 mile walk in.

The trailheads listed on the WTA site are: Upper Trailhead (Judith Pool), Upper Ancient Lakes Trailhead, and Lower Ancient Lakes Trailhead.

Personally, I plug "Ancient and Dusty Lake Trailhead" into my Google Maps and it gets me to the trailhead I want. We have walked by the Upper Ancient Lakes Trailhead before, and have seen people camped in the flat spots above the waterfall that goes down to Ancient Lakes, but camping next to the lakes is my preference and I think the scenery is nicer. If you come from the Upper Ancient Lakes Trailhead and are coming down to the lakes, you have to come down a pretty steep section next to the waterfall, and then scramble over rocks to get to the trail that leads around the lake to the camp spots. Doing that with a heavy pack doesn't sound fun to me, and also I saw people doing it, and it didn't look fun compared to the easy flat hike in from the Ancient & Dusty Lake Trailhead I prefer.

Fishing at Ancient Lakes, can you pick out Andrew in the photo?
Beginning of the hike in

Our Favorite Camp Spot

I guess it might be taboo to give away our favorite camping spot, but this area has so much space, you can find a spot for large groups pretty much anywhere around the lakes. One of the first times we headed out here, there was this massive Boy Scout group, I swear there were like 20 scouts running around.

There are 3 notable lakes when you get to them. We like to camp between the lakes, at the bottom of the basalt wall, if that makes sense. We also like to pick an area where there's been a fire pit made, so that we don't have to make a new one. (Campfires are allowed during certain times of year).

Do you see the waterfall?
Closer shot of our camp spot

Things To Bring and Not to Bring

The first year we headed out here, I packed a hammock in my bag. Well there's not much trees out here, so it was useless and extra weight in my pack. So I would not recommend bringing a hammock.

Things I would recommend bringing:

  • 3-5 liters of water (dependent of how much water you normally consume and how many nights you plan on spending out here). The water in the lakes are farmland runoff, so not really safe to drink or swim in. Or if you do, do it at your own risk. Farmland runoff, as in farmers have used this water to water their crops (which probably have some kind of pesticide on them), or used the water to rinse/water their livestock, so maybe there's even poop in the water... who knows. I like to play it safe than be sorry. 
  • A bundle of wood. The first year we headed out here, we did not think to bring wood. There's not much you can scavenge around this area either since there's not much trees and is desert-y. The wood is a pain to carry out but having a campfire at night is worth it. Or if a bundle is too heavy, make everyone in the group strap 1-2 logs to their packs! (I do recommend buying local wood as not to bring outside bugs and plant diseases into the area)
One thing I did notice more this year was the amount of trash floating in the lake! We saw lots of upside down cans. So disappointing. I picked up the trash that was easily accessible but those cans I did not get too. Please pack all trash out. 

Anyways, Ancient Lakes is such a great spot in the early spring to head too, with warmer weather and no snow. Happy camping!

Until next time Quincy, WA!

All the colorful tents!
Catherine and Kyle overlooking Ancient Lakes
11 humans + 2 canines
Someone walking through the photo with a headlamp on

Do you spy Cooper?
Wore my new Oboz Sapphire Low B-Dry Hiking shoes on trail this weekend!
Lil fam :)


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