Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, Solo, Top Trips

First solo hike

After ten days on the East Coast where the most active thing I did was walk out on the Brooklyn Bridge, I was itching to get back to the mountains. I didn’t want to wait until the weekend, so I decided to embark on my first (gasp!) solo hike. Ok, so I had Sir Wellington with me, but he isn’t very talkative.

Since I don’t drive*, my brilliant and very patient husband agreed to shuttle me to Snoqualmie Pass and pick me up after work. I suspect he has finally realized how much easier I am to live with when I hike regularly.

Tasty Beef Wellington

JK dropped me and Wellie off at the Denny Creek trailhead and we started up towards the lakes. After reading on the FS website that Melakwa Lake was “not accessible from the Denny Creek trail” and seeing the signs about the “extremely hazardous” conditions where the bridge was washed out, I was amused to find a wide, completely dry path across the creek.

Melakwa Lake Outlet More columbine

The hike up to Melakwa took longer than I thought due to the heat (and possibly due to all the diner food I ate on the East Coast), but was well worth it – this was my first summer visit to the lake and it was absolutely gorgeous.

Lunch with a side of views

After eating lunch and lounging around by the upper lake, I headed down the trail to Tuscohatchie. This was kind of a pain in the ass for a trail that is actually on the map (and I love that the Forest Service recommended this approach to Melakwa instead of Denny Creek). I missed the first switchback and suddenly realized I wasn’t on the trail anymore, and I had to look around for a minute to find it again. After this the trail was easy to follow, but very rocky, muddy, brushy in some places and with enough downed trees to make it annoying. I was going a little faster than I should have, jumped off a log, rolled my ankle and fell onto the end of another log that went straight into my thigh, turned around to help Wellie get over the log and then did the same exact thing with my other thigh.

Finally we got to Lower Tuscohatchie and lazed around, soaking our feet in the water. It was heavenly.

Lower Tuscohatchie Lake

After Tuscohatchie it’s a short way to Pratt Lake. The lake itself was somewhat underwhelming, but the trail was full of tiger lilies and hummingbirds. The trail up from the lake took longer than expected, once again due to heat and the after-effects of too many french fries. Ugh.

I was planning on dropping down to Olallie Lake from the Pratt trail following a little side trail that was marked on the map, but suddenly I was by the Talapus Lake junction and realized I must have missed the other trail. By then I was too warm to want to take the longer route, so I just hiked on to the Pratt/Granite trailhead to wait for JK. In retrospect I regret not using that time to take a dip in Olallie instead of snoozing at the trailhead with Wellie.

It's a beautiful day... Hot dog on a log More tiger lilies

All in all a good (but hot) day, hardly any bugs, hardly any people. I was more comfortable hiking alone than I thought I would be, but at certain points during the very lonely stretch between Melakwa and Tuscohatchie I took to singing loudly – I figured my horrendous renditions of Ingrid Michaelson songs would deter bears and scary, murderous woodsmen alike.

Miles: 13-14
Elevation gain: around 3500 feet
Pounds it felt like I had gained while on vacation: 23

*Living without a drivers license is perfectly feasible in Norway, not so much over here. I just started reading the WA drivers manual so I can start taking classes.

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  • Reply Libby July 18, 2009 at 4:44 am

    How beautiful. I’d love to be able to take my dogs hiking – most is national park around here which I believe is dog free (might have to investigate some more). Looks like you a wonderful day. Good on you for getting out there alone.


  • Reply Helen July 20, 2009 at 11:10 am

    How brave to hike alone!! My dh and I make a terrible racket when we hike together even to scare the bears and wildlife – singers we are not, tone-deaf yes!! Glad to hear that Wellie is hiking with you – but where’s Bobby?! has he retired from hiking for now?

  • Reply Joscie July 20, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    wow, what an adventure, I hope you’re being safe! Good luck on getting your license!

  • Reply Kelsie July 22, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Good for you on the first solo trip!

  • Reply Wendy July 23, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Wow…how beautiful!! I’m jealous. Hiking is not even an option in AZ right now. I can’t wait until Fall to get back out on the trails.

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