Friday, March 3, 2017

Hike of the Week : Wallace Lake



Our trip to Wallace Falls was so successful the previous week, it inspired us to go out to Ebey's Landing the next day, and then back to Wallace Lake the following week. Yeah, it was that good.


Again, we were up early and out of the house early... but the nicer day meant we arrived at 8:45am to a parking lot already 30% full. We snagged a spot and were soon on our way. Oh, and to confirm, the power lines were still noisily crackling.


Today we were hiking out to Wallace Lake, taking the old railroad grade trail (for a bit of variety) and then the Greg Ball trail out to the lake. 


As promised, we were soon completely alone on the trail.


Let's face it, the railroad grade trail wasn't spectacularly scenic. Broad, gentle, and relatively flat, it made for easy walking. And it was also, in its own way, quietly pretty. I think we take this kind of beauty for granted.


We crossed a pair of sturdy, well-maintained bridges...


... which spanned small brooks.


On we went, gradually climbing.


The entire time we were on this trail, we only met 5 other hikers coming down. It was silent and very, very peaceful.


Eventually we came to the start of the Greg Ball trail.


According to WTA.org, the Greg Ball Trail:
is a trail envisioned by and honoring one of the greatest trail advocates this state has ever had. Ball was a former board member and director of the WTA. In 1993 he launched the organization’s volunteer trail maintenance program which has since grown into the largest state-based program of its kind. In 2004 at the age of 60, tragically, Greg passed away after battling cancer. He designed this trail to Wallace Lake and it was finished in his memory by volunteers from WTA and through support from the Spring Trail Trust.

The Greg Ball Trail is for hikers only -- meaning no mountain bikes ... but also meaning that the terrain would be rougher.


We set off along the singletrack trail,  climbing higher and higher.


Always a good sign: we're on the right trail!


We had brief glimpses of water and a waterfall:




I had read a trail report from the previous weekend that said there was some snow on the trail; as we climbed higher and the trees thinned out, we saw little clearings like this with dustings of snow.



The path, however, was still clear. :)


And though the temperatures were dropping and we saw no one for over an hour, we did see a friendly face.


We popped out onto a forest service road for a few hundred yards, and saw this posted:


Okay, okay, it was more than 6 months since the sighting... but I still sang the "No Bears" song and hoped that Urs was happily hibernating somewhere cozy.

The last stretch of the trail was on chunky "railroad" gravel, which made for some less-than-perfect hiking. Meanwhile, the temperature dropped significantly and I was glad to know I had a down jacket in my bag if I needed it later.


And then, all of a sudden, we reached the south end of the lake... and there was snow. 



I was glad to have read that it's worth the extra (slight) effort to walk along the lake to the far end. I mean, this was really pretty and peaceful:


... but we pressed on, following a few sets of footprints along a snowy -- okay, only about an inch of snow snowy -- trail. We met a couple ("polka dot bottom and small foot") headed back, leaving only "man with big shoes and dog" ... who we met at the top of the lake.



But it was worth it, for this:


We arrived just as the tiny snowflakes turned into big fluffy ones, and there was no sound other than our own breathing. It felt like we had the lake completely to ourselves. We sat on a log watching the snow fall, nibbling on a frozen Kind bar, and just enjoying the silence.

After about half an hour, we decided it was time to turn back. We went back along the snowy trail just in time to meet two big groups of hikers ... clearly our timing had been perfect!

We took one last look back at the lake before heading down the trail.


Nice uneventful hike back ... and though we did pass more and more people, most of it was still like this:


By the time we got back to the trailhead the parking lot was rammed, and lots of cars were blocking other cars while they waited for spots to open up. We changed into our sandals and got out as quickly as we could. And whereas last week we laughed about all the no parking signs on the road near the trailhead, this week everywhere that wasn't signed was chock-a-block with cars squeezed just off the road. I turned to Wil and said, "Well, apparently we can never come here in the summer!"

But I'm so happy we hiked out to the lake -- the hike wasn't challenging, per se -- though we did hike over 10 miles round trip. Really nice, quiet day. I'm digging this hiking thing...

Wallace Lakesie
Wallace Falls Lake via the Greg Ball Trail and Railroad Grade Hike
10.6 miles
1500 feet elevation gain

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