Sunday, May 27, 2012

Greenwater Lakes and Almost Echo

I had made no promises about reaching Echo Lake at 3900' when we set out on Saturday morning because I knew the snow level was at 4,000' in exposed areas, but could be much lower in the trees. I had a full trip: Garrett – up-and-coming hike-leader, Siv – co-conspirator on many trips, Paul – in his shorts, as always, Erika – new to the US from France, Anne – this is now her fave hike, Roy – fellow lake swimmer, Alice – on her third Mounties trip, Tom – doubles as a cyclist, Candy – a quinoa convert, Lisa – woman who would like to hike with dog, Terry – first met in '08 on Rock Mt.

My expectations were more than met on the hike, even before the hike began, in fact. The road to the trailhead, a bit over 9 miles from the highway, was all paved. Barely a pothole had to be navigated before arriving at a nice-sized parking lot with bathrooms and toilet paper. Then, on the hike, we crossed the Greenwater River many times, all on very sturdy and well-kept bridges.
almost the whole group – where's Erika?

It was at least a mile into the hike that I discovered that Paul was a naturalist (or at least knew all the plants – I'm really not into calling people names). He pointed out the Calypso Orchids that we had been oblivious to, as well as the flowering Red Currants and various birds playing and feeding in the river. The group dynamic was taking shape nicely and I was really enjoying the journey, especially since the trail itself was soft underfoot and fairly gentle.

Predictably, we hit snow, patchy at times, after about mile 4 but it was easy to navigate through and didn't cause much of a problem. Just before arriving at the turnoff for Echo Lake, we ran into a group of backpackers coming down from Echo who told is of the switchbacks covered in snow that were hard to follow. Since it was past 12:00, the universal time for lunch (if there is another universe where they eat at a different time, I don't want to go there), and uphill travel sounded difficult, we instead found a lunch spot by the river and quieted our tummies and refueled our bodies.

While Roy, Terry and Anne were busy creating a new friend from snow, sticks and a strawberry, a bunch of us were filling Erika's "To Go" list with destinations in both the Olympics and the Cascades so she could see the best places and get a condensed experience of hiking in Washington. I was daydreaming of places I had been and wanted to go this summer while hiking out to the trailhead. The 5.5 miles passed quickly, with Roy, Candy and Siv leading the way and stopping periodically to soak in a view or soak the feet in a cool stream. There were also plenty of dogs to pet and babies to admire, being a family- and dog-friendly trail.

When we reached the parking lot, instead of being happy we were at our cars, I was sad to see the trail come to an end, both because of the loveliness of it, but also because we seemed to have the right combination of hiker personalities in the group.

Enjoy the full photos here:

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