The wife and kids were out of town over a weekend last week. This is a rare thing, to not have any family responsibilities. I knew exactly what I want to do with out even having to put much thought into it. Solo backpacking trip. Don’t get me wrong. I love doing things with my family, but when you are backpacking with a 8 and 5 year old, your options are limited. So I looked over my options and decided on a lake near Snoqualmie Pass called Melakwa lake. The trail starts near the Denny Creek Campground and winds under I-90 and passes a couple nice waterfalls.
The first mile or so to Keekwulee Falls is easy trail. A hiking friend of mine once described a trail as “the kind where you get people in flip-flops, carrying tiny dogs in purses.” I literally saw both of those things on this stretch of the trail. The falls are a nice series of cascades flowing over smooth granite. You can climb all around them and enjoy the water, and makes a nice accessible spot for families with small kids.
After that the crowd thins out and the more serious hikers continue. The second waterfall is called Horseshoe Falls. It’s beautiful, but as accessible as the first.
The trail gets steeper, rockier and more demanding from there. The next few miles feel longer than they are as you climb up through Hemlock Pass. As a consolation, the trail was lined with huckleberries, thimbleberries and salmon berries. I probably took more breaks that I really needed to just to pillage a huckleberry bush that was particularly loaded.
The last half mile is down hill into the lake basin. The lakes are not large, but they are beautiful. They are surrounded on all sides by tall jagged peaks and rugged scree fields. While I was there I heard rocks tumbling down from the cliffs on at least 5 different occasions. The cliffs are literally crumbling down into the basin. It’s pretty awesome to be able to see and hear the geology changing around you.
The clear water was just the right temperature for a refreshing swim. It felt pretty good on my sore feet. I spent most of the time on the little lake. There were far fewer people there and I liked the view better anyway.
I did a little fishing while I was there. It wasn’t very productive during the afternoon, but started to pick up in the evening. They started to strike pretty regularly. I hooked a couple and managed to land a feisty rainbow that was about 12” long, which was bigger than I was expecting from such a small lake. It gave me a chance to test out some of the gear I’ll be including in an upcoming fly fishing gear box.
After about 6 pm the day hikers cleared out and the numbers at the lake went from around 60 to more like 15. There were about 6 groups that stayed the night. There were plenty of sites to accommodate everyone. My spot included a flat granite chunk right at chair height next to a table height chunk. Pretty great! In spite of the high numbers of people there the lakes were very clean and pretty close to man made garbage free.