Today's destination was Lake 22 off of the Mountain Loop Highway. This is a very popular hike and can get crowded on weekends. To avoid the crowds we hit the trail at about 7 AM in the rain with my buddy asking, "Are we crazy?" It does seem like this year we have hiked so much in clouds, rain, and snow. Today would be no different.
The trail itself is pretty easy and fantastically maintained. It's just 5.4 miles from car to lake to car and climbs just 1500 feet. There are many well built steps and several nice bridges. You can find the trailhead on the right hand side of the road just a couple miles past Verlot. The lake itself sits in the shadow of Mt. Pilchuck just over the ridge from Heather Lake, both of which I have hiked in the past.
Below are just a few pictures from the trailhead and the early part of the trail. There isn't really too much to say about the trail other than this would be a great place to bring kids or beginning hikers on a nice day. There is an early bridge crossing a pretty big stream and ample opportunity to see waterfalls as you climb up the hill.
After coming out of the trees the bulk of the climbing is done via multiple switchbacks in a pretty open part of the hill. The views to the north are pretty nice (I imagine) but with the low clouds we couldn't see much. This part of the trail was somewhat rocky but still not that big of a deal. Nearing the lake we encountered the widening stream that feeds from the lake down to the waterfalls. Near a small talus field there was a wide spot in the stream that was deep enough to be a great swimming hole on a warm day if one is willing to brave the ice cold water. Only as we neared the lake did we finally encounter snow.
My parents (and the house I grew up in) are experiencing temperatures of 100-105 F today. A little warm but not too far off from normal for this time of year. Even after having lived in the Pacific Northwest for about 7 years I still find myself amazed to be in snow in late June. But snow is what we found at the still partially frozen lake at 2400 feet elevation. The snow (and the lake) are melting fast and don't currently provide any impediment to hikers. That said, I wouldn't venture completely to the far side of the lake just yet due to the amount of snow stacked up there. The path and bridges around the left side of the lake are melted out pretty good. We made it most of the way around before the path completely disappeared into the snow. At that point we called it good and stopped for a snack. There are multiple waterfalls coming off the steep slopes above the far side. The slopes themselves were mostly obscured by clouds. We were rained on pretty good as we relaxed. It was a bit chilly but very quiet.
We had climbed up to the lake in just under 90 minutes and it took us just over an hour to get back to the car. Not bad for a quick morning getaway. Seriously - I hit the trail at 7 AM and I'm finishing this blog post at 1:30 PM. We didn't see another soul until we were almost back to the car.