Monday, June 10, 2019

Backpacking Washington: Pete Lake in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Just 1/4 mile from Pete Lake trailhead, Cooper River

After spending most of May traveling abroad, I really missed the Washington trails and wanted to go backpacking the 1st chance I got. I squeezed in a short hike to Poo Poo Point last weekend 24 hours after I landed, but it just wasn't enough. So this weekend, Cody and I had to be at the Cle Elum Ranger Station Saturday morning, bright and early, for a mandatory info talk to be able to stay at a fire lookout this summer (more to come on that later), but afterwards, I figured since we were in the Cle Elum area, we might as well squeeze in an overnighter! 

Because our meeting didn't end till 1:30 PM Saturday, we needed a hike in that was relatively easy and give us enough time to setup camp in the daylight and also time to relax. Pete Lake met all our criteria!
The start of our hike
 Cooper River, beginning of the trail 
I knew I had to come back here for a swim 
Pete Lake at sunset

Dates Backpacked: Saturday - Sunday 6/8-6/9/2019
Trail Hiked: Pete Lake Trail
Miles Hiked: 9.5 miles R/T
Elevation Gain: 400 ft
Permits needed: Self-permitted at trailhead, parking Northwest Forest Pass

Pete Lake Trail

Saturday June 8, 2019

We got to a very full trailhead at around 2:30 PM, cars were parked along the side of the road. But we were able to snag a parking spot in the lot as some day hikers were about to leave. With so many cars in the lot, it had me worried that we weren't going to find a campsite hiking in this late! So as we loaded up and started hiking in, I started counting how many groups were hiking out (1 car, 2 car, 3 car...) lol. I ended up counting at least 15 groups who were hiking back to trailhead.
One of the many water crossings

It took us roughly 2 hours to get to the lake. The trail was easy and flat. There were several water crossings, nothing too hard to cross though. As we approached the lake, we opted to go right of the trail since there were quite a number of tents just to the left. Going right, also is the trail continuation to Spectacle Lake (on my to-do list, just didn't have time this weekend to add on another 6.5 miles Saturday). As we skirted along the lake, we past a few more occupied campsites, and after 45 minutes of bushwhacking and skirting the lake, we opted to backtrack and see what there was if you went left of the lake. So right when you see the lake, just to the left is a giant flat area where at least 10-13 tents if not more, can be pitched, and easy access to the lake. There was room for us here, but there were also a ton of kids. So Cody and I opted to go a lil further down to see if we could find something more secluded, and we did! Score! The spot we found also had an already made fire pit for us too (as long as there's no fire ban in the area, fires are allowed 200 ft away from the water).

Our secluded campsite for the night 
Welcome to our crib

There was plenty of room for us to pitch our new REI Quarter Dome SL 2 Tent, set up 2 hammocks, and also put our 2 backpacking chairs around the fire pit. We had a view of the lake, but no water access from our spot. The walk to the water was not far though. We lounged in our hammocks, Cody collected fallen wood for our fire, we made dinner, and had a relaxing evening before heading to bed.

The night was clear so I set an alarm for 1:30 AM so I could get some night shots. But after dragging my butt out of the tent, I took 2 shots, and went back to bed cuz it was colder than I expected. Next time, astrophotography, next time.

My attempt at night photography 

Sunday June 9, 2019

We packed up and hiked out around 10:00 AM, by then most of the tents by the lake were gone. The hike out was easy enough and a hot one. I kept telling Cody how I remembered a spot near trailhead that looked nice to swim in and once we came upon that spot, I put on my bathing suit and walked right in. I wanted to dunk my head but it was way too cold for me lol. Plus I was the only one swimming, Cody wouldn't get in. So I waded in the water waist deep for a little bit, and we headed to the car. It sure felt like summer.

After we hiked out, we swung by the Roslyn Farmers Market and then went to our favorite BBQ place in Cle Elum before heading home. Twas a great weekend.

Until next time Cle Elum!
Chicken & Dumplings, still my favorite Mountain House Meal!
 View of Pete Lake if you go right of the lake
 Pete Lake in the morning 
All the trillium!
I lost count of how many we saw on trail this weekend!
 Such big trees!
There were two toilets at Pete Lake
Fires allowed!
 A dip before we head home
Smokey's Bar-B-Que in Cle Elum, WA


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