Being in Seattle offers many perks, such as the view from Columbia Tower, relaxing at GasWorks Park, or a delicious treat at Molly Moon's or Cupcake Royale! But what about getting OUT of the city?! Within two hours of Seattle you can find dozens of amazing spots to drive to, hike, lay out, view, photograph, play in, taste or smell!
Yesterday I decided to visit Heather Lake - one of the spots I've been most anticipating since my arrival in Washington State several months ago. Simply put: IT'S WORTH IT!
I got myself a Zipcar from two blocks up Madison Street from me and proceeded to drive the less than 90 minute drive (especially at 5am!) to arrive at the Heather Lake Trailhead just a few minutes after sunrise. With the car parked and absent of any valuables, it was time to finally see what all the fuss was about! My Dakine backpack pre-packed and a few clementine oranges in hand, I started my journey...
The trail was pretty straightforward, though could have been labeled a little better. Pretty quickly into the hike you start to see that you're definitely going up! WTA.org says it's about a 1,000 foot elevation increase from beginning to end. Using my RunKeeper app, I can say it was approximately 2 miles between the car park and Heather Lake. In retrospect, I wish I'd packed a lighter bag as I didn't need all the water, food and lenses I brought for the trip. Specifically my 70-200mm zoom portrait lens w/converter for wildlife (3.5lbs) or my sandwich from Safeway! I also brought three half-liters of water... one to two would have been plenty.
After about one hour of hiking, my CouchSurfer who was partaking in the hike as well noticed snow up ahead! I was elated as I hadn't seen snow in years! We started taking numerous photos of us in the snow, though we didn't realize we'd only be seeing more snow up ahead, so in reflection is was somewhat a waste of time. The snow was covering the usual forest floor with rocks all over, so patches of snow underneath that had melted lead to areas of the trail where one could fall through the snow. Both her and I had this problem a couple times each, so if you come at this same time of year, be mindful of this!
Not much further after we saw the first snow on the ground, we finally arrived and were greeted with the most spectacular view (above). We found a group of four already there taking photos of each other with their iPhone and we offered to take one for them. They returned the favor and we all chatted about the beauty of both our currently location as well as the Seattle area in general. After learning about where we were all from and what we were doing here in the Pacific-Northwest, we decided to continue on hiking as a group.
One of our new friends suggested we go to the sunny side of the lake to relax with the warmth of the sun on us, so we made our way to the right to navigate the lake counter-clockwise. We ended up exactly across the lake from where we first arrived. Here there was lots of sunlight but still snow on the ground. Three of the guys from the group hopped on a giant rock for a photo, seen above. Then we all hung out on the rock for the remainder of our time at the lake - about one hour. During this time I continued to take some photos of each other, of the mountains and the lake. You can see these below, finishing with a photo of myself. Note that with all the snow melting, there were around TEN waterfalls in the mountains! This made for a beautiful sound and a landscape that was hard to take my eyes off of.........