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Hiking Guides

Several years ago, when I began to hike, I bought a couple of very handy books that introduced me to some great and relatively short hikes.  I love the books by Ira Spring – most of them are called 100 hikes in some area of the state or another, or best short hikes, which makes it easy and convenient to choose which book, geographically, will work best for you.

These are two of the books that I have found full of great hiking information:north-cascades-and-san-juans.jpgglacier-peak-region.jpg

Best Short Hikes in Washington’s North Cascades and San Juan Islands

By E.M. Sterling

100 Hikes in Washington Glacier Peak Region

By Ira Spring

Denny Creek

slippery-slab.jpgI haven’t been to Denny Creek, but a friend just told me it is one of her favorites.  I guess Denny Creek is near Snoqualmie Pass, so up I-90, and fairly accessible to Seattle and surrounding area individuals.  Apparently the Slippery Slab region of Denny Creek is very popular and fun for people of all ages.  The slippery slab area becomes waterslides in the summertime, which will make this a great and very enjoyable hike for my two little boys.  I can’t wait to take them next summer!  I will have to find more hikes like this…I would like to share my passion and enjoyment of hiking with my children.

I’m thinking most of the remainder of my entries are going to be on hikes I haven’t hiked, but they are hikes I intend to do, of course, IN MY SPARE TIME.  Do I even need to elaborate on the “spare time” bit…I’m sure we all know by now that “spare time” means not even if Hell freezes over, but nevertheless, it’s nice to keep those “spare time” things in mind, if not to do, then as a reminder of the fact that we once had lives outside of school.  Oh, memories, sweet memories.   

Anywho, I have been wanting to do a hike near Leavenworth, and a friend told me that Stuart Lake is a beautiful hike.  However, I just read online that it is 9 miles and rated “difficult” – this is not sounding too “beautiful” to me.   I am intrigued though, since it is supposed to be a hike filled with lush foliage, wildflowers, and alpine geology…this does make me think that the hike would be well worth a once-over.  The trailhead is located past Icicle Road (which you  find right before entering Leavenworth) and thus would be a great hike to explore on a nice weekend visit or camping trip in the Leavenworth area.
Stuart Lake 

Olympic Hot Springs

I love how all of  my hikes are in the past tense – and here’s another to add to that ever-growing list of memorable moments (from the way, way back history of my former, pre-marriage, pre-children, life).  I’ve been to a few natural hot springs areas in the northwest, and by far my favorite has been the Olympic Hot Springs which is tucked high-up in the tree-laden forest of the Olympic National Forest…and btw, I am talking about the Olympic Hot Springs, not to be mistaken by the sterile, commercialized, and sadly overflowing tourist-filled menagerie better known as Sul Duc Hot Springs.  But I digress….

Olympic Hot SpringsThe last time I ventured up to the Olympic Hot Springs was probably about five years ago – my friend, we’ll refer to her as Missy the City Girl, and I, buzzed up through Port Angeles and into the Olympic National Forest, in her cute little green Jetta, that shouted, I do NOT belong in the woods, but nevertheless, she and I were determined to meet my friends that were already up at the springs camping for a long weekend.  Missy the City Girl, who adamantly wanted to trek up through the woods with me, but could not go without a years worth of makeup and a blow-dryer (of course, it plugs into the trees, right?!), and I, hiked about two miles into the woods to a grass-covered area to meet some friends and set-up camp.  The hike was easy and actually paved for about the first mile; however, as any of you who have hiked in somewhere to camp know, the weight of your gear, increases exponentially the farther you hike.  Of course, my gear included a one-ton tent and what must have been a keg of wine (Surely it started out as a bottle, I swear it did!). 

 The hot springs were surprisingly sparsely inhabited, which made for a relaxing and stress-free weekend.  After setting up camp, I went with my friends to check out the springs – you cross by a small trail and I believe a little bridge (my memory may be failing me here) and on the other side are several natural hot spring pools.  One of the larger pools, towards the end of the trail, is set near a rocky wall, which when I was camping, was filled with flowers and candles from past visitors…it was quite romantic, and would have been much more romantic if I was with a significant other instead of watching my lovebird married friends kissing and making out in front of me – sickening – no PDA unless I have my own love interest along to create my own PDA moments!!!  Seriously!   So, not sure if I am being too specific about the hot springs, but I definitely loved having the choice of several natural pools and being able to enjoy the best of two of my favorite things:  the outdoors and hot tubs!!!🙂

Snow Lake

Directions:  drive east on I-90 and take exit 52 for Snoqualmie Pass.  Drive under highway overpass, take a right on Alpental Rd.  Drive about 2 miles to the ski parking area and trailhead.

Info.:  7+ mile hike, 1,300 ft elevation gain, easy/moderate hike.

It’s been a few years since I have hiked to Snow Lake, but it is a beautiful hike which leads to breathe-taking views of Snow Lake, one of the area Alpine lakes, and to gorgeous views of the surrounding moutain ranges.  It is a fairly popular hike, so you are likely to run into other hikers along the way.  The lush forest and clear scenic views, make this a more than worthy hike.  The only downfall is that there are SEVERAL switchbacks on the way up…you start to feel like maybe you should just dart straight up and bypass some of the tedious one-foot gain switchbacks!  When you reach the top of the moutainside, you have almost a 360 degree view of the area – it’s such a spectacular site!  I have some old pics of this hike…I’ll have to dig them out and post a photo or two.

theresaandapril2002.jpgMy friend, April, with me, after our long hike.  This was taken by the lake…it was the only time I hiked Snow Lake in fog!  I love that my friend is drinking a Pepsi…after hiking!   Silly girl!

snowlake.jpg Snow Lake…aaaah, so beautiful!  I could have sat there for hours soaking up the view.  …the definition of peace!  So lovely! 

Heather Lake

Heather Lake, situated below Mt. Pilchuck, along Mountain Loop highway, is one of my favorite hikes…and not just because it is easy…well, ok, maybe in part, but that’s not the only reason I enjoy this hike.   It’s about a 4 mile hike, round trip, and it does have some elevation gain, and no, I don’t remember the exact gain (like I have the brain power to remember elevation gain!), I just remember feeling a little relieved every time I make it to the lake.  In order to fully experience Heather Lake, I suggest hiking it once in early spring, then again during the summer.  Why?  Well, certainly the lush foliage and forestry and trickling waterfalls, makes this hike memorable, but during early spring (maybe winter) the lake is silhouetted in snow and ice – which is gorgeous, and makes the hike well worth the trek.  During the summer, you have the dense foliage to protect you from the heat, and you can carry along a change of clothes and/or swimsuit to go swimming and even a fishing pool for the lake. 

I did not realize until one of the last times I went hiking to Heather Lake that you can completely walk around the exterior of the lake and find a boulder-rimmed swimming hole along the backside – you can spend the entire day swimming and sunbathing!  What’s more, it is a secluded area (So, haha, no one but my unfortunate friends can see me in the full glory of my bathing suit!!!), which makes it the perfect place to relax undisturbed for the day.  My husband keeps meaning to bring his fishing gear with him, since you actually can legally fish in the lake, and apparently it is stocked, but alas, he hasn’t managed the feat of carrying his beer and his fishing gear up the whole path.  For some unknown reason, beer keeps mysteriously winning out.  BTW…who brings BEER HIKING…another tangent, and one, I suppose, I’ll discuss at a later date, in a chair, paying some over-priced-look-at-me-I’m-perfect head shrink…not that that bothers me.

Anywho,  Heather Lake does have some elevation gain, but the lake makes it well worth the climb…I used to try to make it up there about twice a year, so this upcoming spring and summer I intend to follow up on that tradition.  I’ll have to look through old photos to see if I can dig up some of the lake. 

Thinking About Hiking…

Hmm, I would really like to go on a hike this weekend, but I don’t think it is going to happen.  I have been reading about some beautiful hikes in the Mt. Baker area – Heliotrope Ridge, Chain Lakes, Lake Ann, etc., and these places all lead, supposedly, to spectacular views of glaciers, lakes and Mt. Baker.  Maybe I can convince my husband to go hiking…