| August 6, 2016 |
As the “most visited lake in the Alpine Wilderness,” Snow Lake in Snoqualmie Pass is certainly beautiful, but perhaps gets a little too much attention from the public. As my first official hike after moving to the Evergreen State, I didn’t entirely know what to expect from this adventure. When my hiking crew and I pulled into the parking lot near the trailhead, my friends’ jaws dropped to the floor. They were disgusted by the amount of cars in the parking lot (certainly 100 or more), and we knew we were in for a journey with the masses. It was too late to turn back, and I was secretly intrigued by why this hike was so darn popular. So, onward we marched.
First, I have to admit that I didn’t initially comprehend the “big deal” with all the cars in the parking lot. I’m used to hiking in New York where there are tons of groups heading to the trail heads, and you’re undoubtedly going to bump into multiple people on the trails. Blasphemously, these people also are often times playing music from their backpacks, or just plain ol’ loud and rambunctious (surprise for New Yorkers). Despite this background, I am quickly learning that there are areas in the U.S. where nature is well-respected, and silence on the trails is a form of etiquette. The principles behind Leave No Trace is a little new to me, and I’m so happy I’m learning and applying these guidelines to preserve and respect nature.
I digress because, on this hike, is a naive Kristen who really doesn’t know any better…
We began the hike with the seemingly odd requirement to fill out a form with the number of hikers in our group, their names, and then attach it to one of our members’ packs. Everyone seemed a bit confused by this, but we did it anyways. Usually, you only need one of these forms if you’re spending time overnight in the parks.
The hike began with relatively steep steps to climb, and our crew passed a few groups along the way. The first opening from the tree-covered ‘stairway’ proved to be quite beautiful.
The peaks in the distance were encapsulated by ghastly fog, and our path turned to rubble and rocks with speckles of snow. The evergreen trees were dark and full, reaching toward an endlessly cloud-filled sky. As we continued on the 1,800-foot climb, we met other hikers and their dogs, kids, elders, etc. It seemed nobody was discouraged from the climb, which was quite impressive.
After a few short switchbacks, we reached finally reached the overlook! Just past a massive rock lay a view of the lake from above. Between the trees and fog, we saw the blue-green water surrounded by alpine mountains.
Of course, my hiking buddies (above) and I decided to descend the 400-foot drop in elevation to be level with the lake. We could’ve decided to simply stay put at the lookout, but we wanted a spot to sit and enjoy our snacks. A small side trail on the descent revealed someone’s old cabin, with the fireplace still relatively intact.
The view from the cabin’s front yard was something to be jealous of…
We meandered along the lakeside path to find a private spot to sit, passing waterfalls and muddy trails.
Once traversing one of these small creeks, one of my buddies took an audible fall in a muddy downslope. Despite her ballet-trained balance, she couldn’t get her footing on the rocks and, therefore, dotted her behind with Snow Lake’s muddy trail. (Pardon the PG-13 image).
Once we found our happy spot to hang by the lake, we broke out some snacks and enjoyed the view. Of course, I happen to be friends with the only one we saw jump into the lake on this day. Jess fearlessly took the dive of faith into the chilly water, and came out looking awesomely refreshed. Her splash into the water was met with cheers from afar, as other lake-goers were impressed with her feat.
Overall, despite the over-crowded trails I never wish to encounter again…
…I was happy to be introduced to the Pacific Northwest with a crew of ladies with similar interests and passions. The road trip from Olympia and entire hike was filled with heartfelt conversations, and I felt incredibly grateful for my new friendships. Our uniquely different backgrounds allowed for varied perspectives in our conversations, and our similarities (including the fact that we all work in the medial fields AND wear Marmot raincoats) enhanced our understandings of each other.
Many more adventures are underway…
Tips for the Hike:
[themify_icon icon=”fa-check-square-o” style=”small” icon_color=”#000000″ ] Wear sunscreen, as a lot of the trail is exposed, and you’ll likely want to hang by the lake.
[themify_icon icon=”fa-check-square-o” style=”small” icon_color=”#000000″ ] Hike down to the lake! It’s a 20-minute descent from the lookout, but entirely worth it.
[themify_icon icon=”fa-check-square-o” style=”small” icon_color=”#000000″ ] If you can, do the hike on a week day to avoid the crowds.
[themify_icon icon=”fa-check-square-o” style=”small” icon_color=”#000000″ ] Make sure you have a Northwest Forest Pass.
[themify_icon icon=”fa-check-square-o” style=”small” icon_color=”#000000″ ] Visit Washington Trail’s Association for updated conditions/recommendations for this hike.