I have had a major itch to get outdoors lately. Like, a can’t sit still, bouncing up and down, browsing trip reports during work meetings kind of itch. When I get like this, I just have to go with it. Planning a trip in advance does not work for me. I fill up a backpack, push my family into the car before they know what is happening and set out with a vague idea of place in mind. Today was one of those days. I was up at 6:00 AM on a mission to get out the door and was downloading trail maps and calling the ranger station for a trail report while ordering a coffee and picking road trip tunes on the car radio. We set out for the Mt. Pilchuck area and settled on Lake Twenty-two when we got out there.
Part of the perk of these spur-of-the-moment trips is that we go into them with very few expectations, which means that we almost always enjoy them with an open mind. But Lake Twenty-two would not have disappointed me even if I had been looking forward to it for weeks. It was the perfect day for it – mostly overcast, temps in the 60s, but decent visibility for the mountaintop views. The landscape felt similar to nearby hikes we have done like Lime Kiln and Heather Lake, but it was nice to try out a new spot. The trail follows a pretty steady incline the entire time, gaining almost 1500 feet, but is spread out over about 3 miles, so it doesn’t feel too grueling. It winds back and forth through the mountain rain forest and scrambly boulder fields in the avalanche zone, and much of the path is pretty much a running waterfall. No really, sometimes we had to stop and wonder if we were actually on the path at all, or if we had just followed a creek.
When we finally made it to the top, tired and achy and ready for about a dozen sandwiches, we found ourselves at the most amazingly crystal clear lake with a skim of ice still floating on top and snowy caves all around the edges, with blooming spring flowers inside. The peak behind the lake is so tall I couldn’t fit the whole thing in my camera frame, and it was laced with gushing waterfalls.
I could have stayed up at the lake all day if we didn’t have to get home eventually. But having a snowball fight in the middle of June before heading back down the trail was a pretty good experience to stumble upon on a whim.
Areas visited: Lake Twenty-two – Verlot, WA
Species observed: Literally none. Unless you count humans. It was a pretty busy day on this hike.
If you go: Don’t think too much about it, just go!
But seriously, I would suggest wearing waterproof boots and maybe bringing trekking poles, particularly if you are planning on making the full loop around the lake. This is also a very popular hiking trail, and while we weren’t too bothered by the crowd, you won’t find any solitude here on a weekend or even on most weekday afternoons. Start (very) early if you want to get a parking spot and an unobstructed view. If you’d like a slightly less busy and easier hike that feels just like this one, I would suggest Heather Lake, which is located just on the other side of the same peak and will give you pretty much the same experience.