Exploring the wilderness this past weekend

July 12, 2005

This past weekend, I went up to Seattle to visit Rose and we went backpacking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. As always, I have a full set of pictures available on flickr. But here are some choice ones and a story…

Alpine Lake Wilderness 060me and rose in front of the lake

It had been a while since I backpacked (the only other time I’d backpacked before was around the north side of Mt. Rainer 2 years ago), but now I’m itching to get out even more. The scenery was beautiful and it’s definitely great exercise.

Last week, we looked around online to find a trail to do and found a nice 14 mile loop in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. The trail circles around Hyas Lake, hitting up Cathedral Rock and Deception Pass. It was a relatively light hike (only a few thousand feet of elevation gain) and the views were pretty neat.

I didn’t think too much of the cautionary statements in the trail guide about how wooded the trail would get and how we’d be crossing some crazy rivers, so those things came as a bit of a surprise. Being heavily forested isn’t so bad, except there are a ton of plants that try to poke you and bugs that try to bite you. Rose got bit on the lip which wasn’t too pleasant; it swelled up pretty good for a day, but fortunately it went away almost as fast as it came.

stream 5Crossing the rivers made this hike extremely exciting. Fortunately, there wasn’t too much snow this winter, so the rivers weren’t running at full force – if they were, I’m not sure we would’ve been able to cross without getting drenched. Even at their current levels, we had to jump between rocks and we almost slipped a few times. The picture really doesn’t do the river justice because it looks like a tiny little stream, but if you look closely, you can see what looks like a few branches in the middle of the river. Those aren’t branches; they’re huge fallen tree trunks.

When we found a place to camp, Rose started cooking us some ramen (yummm πŸ™‚ ) and I tried to start a campfire. Rose was infinitely more successful than I. First of all, I didn’t bring a hatchet, so I wasn’t able to collect any good firewood. Second, I have no Boy Scout skills, so starting a fire with just kindling is not my forte. And third, it had just rained the night before, so all the wood we could find was wet. Here’s my failed attempt at a campfire and our tent setup:

Alpine Lake Wilderness 069Alpine Lake Wilderness 070

Since this was my second time backpacking, I was able to carry forward a lot of hard lessons learned from my first time. This time, I knew to pack light, plan ahead, and that good equipment would be essential. For the backpackers out there, here’s the gear I have:

I’m pretty pleased with the performance of the equipment, but I could sure go lighter! Loaded up, my pack was at least 35 lbs. – before filling up my hydration pack and nalgenes with water, which put the total above 40 lbs.

Anyone have any tips on starting a campfire, suggestions on equipment, or recommendations on where to go next? πŸ™‚


No Responses Yet to “Exploring the wilderness this past weekend”

  1. moman Says:

    I’m a big time camper, looks like you had a great place to shack up for the night.

    As for the fire, I find it’s easiest to go to a store and buy a StarterLog (they are 33 cents here at walmart). They are quite small (5″x2″x1″). Light it with a match on one end and it will burn for an hour or so, which is time to light all but the wettest wood. Coleman fuel also works wonders but I imagine you didn’t back any of that =).

    Since it’s summer you could probably get a lighter, summer sleeping bag.

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