Lately my hiking adventures have taken me places I’ve already been before. There’s nothing wrong with this, but I have missed the excitement that comes with seeing a new trail for the first time. When I go on solo hikes I prefer going to trails I am familiar with, but sometimes a hike with a friend is what the soul needs.
My favorite way to catch up with friends is by submerging ourselves in the woods. Jessica and I headed to the Olympic Mountains a couple weeks ago and hiked our way to Lena Lake. This trail is popular, due it its gentle elevation gain (only 1300′) and beautiful lake, but I was jazzed to find it wasn’t overly packed.
The hike is 7.2 miles RT, and thanks to the ease of the climb it only took us about three hours. I enjoyed the hike so much I went back the following weekend for a solo hike. What I love most about the Olympic Mountains is that even when you find yourself at a popular trail, you are fully submerged in the woods and can go miles without seeing anyone else.
I was amazed to find how much the trail changed in one week. When Jessica and I went there was water covering nearly 80% of the trail. I was fortunate for my waterproof shoes, although they gave me a gnarly blister. Nothing a bunch of ferns can’t help.
When I went back for my solo adventure the water was nearly gone, and the areas of rushing rapids had completely dried up. This makes me so excited for summer hikes. The perfect trail for getting back in hiking shape, this trail allowed me to get my feet wet literally and metaphorically.
The first half of the trail brought us on a winding series of switch backs. The colors of green were so intensely vibrant and lush, thanks to our long and wet winter here in Washington. I was in awe of the freshness they provided the air, my lungs couldn’t get enough.
Once we passed this bridge (which I was obsessed with) the switchbacks became less prominent as we climbed closer and closer to the lake. A handful of people were at the lake each time I went, and when I’m on a solo hike the sight of other humans is appreciated.
The first trip to the lake we found snow atop the far off trees.
The following week the snow was nearly gone. Seven days later, seven days closer to summer, seven days worth of higher temperatures. Above photos are the first week, below shot is the following week.
Jessica and I spent a solid chunk of time at the lake while we waited for her Jet Boil to heat some water. While we waited, we made friends with the locals. I’ve only ever had a Grey Jay close to my hands once, and there was an apple core between us.
This time, I tried to let them land on my palm, but I panicked and they flew off. The result was an extremely flattering photo of me. We can’t all be modern day Snow White’s.
Maybe next time.
This hike was great, definitely one to add to the list for all types of hikers. Perfect balance of nature and sweat. I’ll be back for both solo and accompanied hikes. For real adventure seekers, the trail continues onto Upper Lena Lake, a 14 mile RT (3900′ gain) trail, as well as to The Brothers, a 13.2 RT (6050′ gain – woof) trail.
Next time I go I’d like to camp at Upper Lena. Stay tuned for that adventure.
Q: Would you let a Gray Jay land on your hand?