This past weekend Washington experienced unusually high temperatures in the low 100’s! My friend Carrie and I had a trip to Leavenworth scheduled and we were bound and determined to hike to both Lake Stuart and Lake Colchuck. Since both lakes’ trailheads start at the same parking spot, we headed to the left at the Y to Lake Colchuck first for our 12 mile hike.
Getting up at 3:30 am to hit the trail early would be our goal as we left our cozy hotel room a bit after 4:00 am. There was nothing too unusual about the drive except the moon over the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, a deer in headlights and man who literally was sleeping face up on the side of the Icicle Creek Road, as we traveled along.
We applied plenty of DEET, unfortunately the only thing I know of that truly combats the reported mosquitos and ticks here. Trust me, I’ve tried many products in my 50 years of outdoor activity and every time someone comes up with a new line of environmentally friendly insect repellent, I am willing to give it a go but I end up spraying the DEET on top after a few minutes.
We headed up the rocky trail, already in the toasty 70’s along Mountaineer Creek with its flowing winds cooling us. Upon seeing the trail junction for Lake Stuart and Lake Colchuck, we luckily took Colchuck, and I’ll get to that later as to why we did.
Getting passed by backpackers, I realize I am getting old and slowing in my 63 years of age. Luckily I have such wonderful hiking companions like Carrie that are a part of my tribe. I suppose they realize my experience is an asset and in return I appreciate their enthusiasm and energy.
Arriving at Colchuck
We arrive at Lake Colchuck just before sunrise. As we watched in amazement, it was everything I had dreamed it would be. The deep navy blue of the lake and surrounding mountain turned a jewel toned turquoise. Dragontail Mountain with snow still tucked on Aasgard Pass reminded me of of a little slice of heaven. The sun then peaked over the mountain to the east and in it’s golden light began to cast shadows and contrast to the trees.
Carrie and I just sat in wonder and amazement at the spectacle of the alpine wilderness.
Arrive at Sunrise
Lucky us! For the hot temperatures got us up and moving that morning after a fun day in Leavenworth, as we made our way back down the mountain.
We passed quite a number of people that day on the trail and stopped and chatted with “Dave” a firefighter from Cape Cod. Then an entire family at the junction to Lake Stuart.
A nursing mom and two families were stopped at the junction to Lake Stuart. As we chatted, they shared yesterday another group had been run out of camp by swarming mosquitoes but they did not heed their warning to turn around.
One of the women shared her horrid evening in a tent in triple digit temperatures with the rest of her family. What should have been a magical backpacking trip ended with they too leaving early completely covered in bug bites.
I asked what they used and it was pretty much every thing but DEET. I just filed it away in my mind figuring there really was nothing left to say that hadn’t been already been said in their experience the evening before.
Although I felt we could have added this extended trip to Lake Stuart, with the heat and getting up early, I felt completely spent at this moment in time, perhaps it was all the wine the day before and just didn’t want to fight bugs like they had.
Until I return again, hopefully soon, it will be an experience of a lifetime at Lake Colchuck in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
You must go there and you can find more pictures here.