Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lake Twenty-Two

Friend Mike and I headed up to Lake Twenty-Two on Saturday.  Lake Twenty-Two is a really popular hike in the Glacier Peak area, off the Mountain Loop Highway.  I hiked it some fifteen years ago, and it’s been on my mind the last couple years to check it out again. 

The hike is short—less than 6 miles roundtrip—which is probably why I haven’t gone back more recently, with my typical longer distance focus.  But the trailhead in near, 52 miles from home, not far from the Ron Herzog start line.  The trail is known for its old growth, waterfalls, and the beautiful mountain lake.

We actually didn’t settle on Lake Twenty-Two until 8 AM at the Verlot Ranger Station, after an early meetup at 7 AM at Smokey Point. You don’t have to choose early, really—there’s a lot of nearby trailheads to choose from. Someday, when I heal up, I may try to do two or three trails in a day around here (e.g. Mt. Pilchuk, Lake Twenty-Two, Heather Lake). It'd make for a fun day.

The first two-thirds of the trail are now snow-free, with massive old growth cedars lining the trail, and a few large waterfalls, spilling out full bore. After that, the trail quickly switches to snow and ice.  We packed snowshoes—I thought that’s what we were going to do--but didn’t end up using them. Steps were kicked in most of the way.

We punched through to our waists a few times, and less deep several more times. The snow is soft and melting fast today, and soon to be gone. We encountered one sketchy creek crossing, with a gap to jump over a melted snowbridge, over an eight foot drop. Have to be careful with these kind of things, because it's possible to fall and wash under the snowcover. We ended up dropping into the creek and climbing out of it, as jumping on to a sloped ice cube seemed a bad idea. It's easier to jump coming down, which I did, letting myself fall forward.

Lake Twenty-Two was gorgeous.  Spectacular, fair to say, as we arrived, and no one was there, and the basin was pure white, the small lake covered in ice. Thousand foot cliffs form a cirque above the far side. Avalanches are happening--we heard a few falls. We were advised at the Ranger Station against walking on the lake, but we watched one fella give it a go in snowshoes, successfully.  I would've fallen through, no doubt.

We were the early birds, first up to the lake in the morning.  Many people were coming up as we came down.  Next time, I’d probably come up here even earlier in the year, before the summer crowds, but today was perfect. Great to hit the trail with Mike too--been a while. Thanks Mike! Also, nice too to be home by early afternoon, to work around the place. More weekends like THIS, please.

1 comment:

Michael Chastain said...

Thanks for a great day in the mountains!