Friday, June 9, 2017

Hike of a long time ago : Packwood Lake

This was a good one. A great one. And the perfect weather helped.

We left the campground early -- we had been warned about the congestion caused by the Packwood Flea Market, but only when we got to the turnoff 20 minutes later did we realize that the 90-minute travel time we'd estimated the day before was caused by the market backups. Ha!

The road up to the trailhead was paved and had only a few potholes -- easy peasy. And there was a big parking lot at the top -- which already had a lot of cars in it.

May we pause, for a moment, to admire the loveliness of this trailhead's information board? Tidy posters, info on animals you might see on the trail, a beautiful wooden map... this is my dream info board.

How pretty is this map?

Let's head out!

 One last glimpse of a nearby volcano (ummm, is that Rainier? or a Tatoosh?):

And then we were headed into the woods. The trail started right up -- again, this is Freshman Math sort of stuff. Start your trail off with a steep section to thin the crowd.

But soon we were on a gentle, rolling trail through the woods, and entered the Goat Rocks Wilderness.

There was even a hint of snow off the trail -- which made this stretch lovely and cool.

One really nice feature: no motorcycles or bikes on the trail. Makes for a nice, relaxing hike.

And then, finally, THIS:

Just, wow. So beautiful.

We chatted with a couple who were camping next to the lake with this view. Amazing. We had seen a few groups headed out from the lake -- apparently there is still a lot of snow on the nearby trails, so people were leaving a day early. And the trail is so gentle, and only 5 miles -- I think even I could backpack out there to camp for a night or two!

We spent a little over an hour at the lake, going partway around and admiring the view and then just sitting in the sun. Glorious!

this old ranger station is being restored
We crossed a bridge into the official camping area and had to stop, again, and admire the views.

We found a nice fire ring right on the lake and took a break. And, no, I'm not sure what mountain that is. Goat Rocks? Adams?

This week's #bootie is an instant classic.

After a while it was time to head back. Lots and lots of hikers heading in as we were heading out. And I made Wil pose in front of this waterfall along the trail. 

When we got back to the parking lot it was RAMMED. As we were taking our boots off a guy drove up, asked if we were leaving, and we said, "Yes, but in 5 minutes." He got all huffy, and said, "TWENTY MINUTES?!?!" So I replied, "No, 5 minutes ... but we saw a spot up closer to the trailhead if you can't wait" and he sped off. Always charming!

Now I know what you're thinking -- where did we go to recover?

I'd seen two potential spots on the way out to the trailhead. After we managed to crawl through Packwood (there would be no stopping there once we realized that most vendors were offering the same tat we could purchase at a county fair) we stopped in at the adorable Tall Timber Motel / Restaurant / Lounge. We walked in the front door and thought, mmm, no, not for us. Thankfully I saw the sign that said, "LOUNGE" around the side of the building and we came on in.

We only had a small snack -- the fry bread pizza, which was delicious -- but all of the food looked great. And you know I love a bar that has peanuts on the table.

Then, though we didn't *need* any more recovery, this was irresistible.


It was HOT -- maybe 90 degrees? -- and the ice cream machine couldn't keep up with the demand for shakes and cones. But we settled into a booth in the tiny, happily air-conditioned cafe and had onion rings, a chocolate malt, and my cone -- inverted into a cup.

This hike was so beautiful -- a really nice trail, all gentle ups and downs, and then the lake as a reward. No scary stuff at all. A++

Packwood Lake

9.1 miles
1555 feet elevation

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