Spectacle Lake: 7.20 - 7.22.05

This trip turned out to be a bit of an adventure. I'd originally planned to spend a day hiking the boundary trail at Mt. St. Helens mid-week, but decided I'd rather save that for another time and plan a two night trip somewhere different. After much indecision, I finally settled on Spectacle lake well after noon on Wednesday. After packing up, a quick trip to REI for the required map wasn't as simple as planned, as REI didn't have the map I needed (I like and use the Green Trails maps). I ended up using the map program/machine and printer to purchase a custom map, which was very difficult to read and ended up causing me problems later on.

After a drive of over an hour, I arrived at the trail head and got on the trail at 6:00 PM, retracing my steps for about 100 yards when I forgot to hang my Northwest Forest Pass on my rear view mirror.

With a 6:00 start on an 11 mile hike up the west side of the mountains, I knew I'd need to make excellent time to arrive at Spectacle Lake by dark. But there was water and plenty of spots to camp along the way, and I had my 8-LED mini-flashlight to light the way if needed.

By 7:45 I'd arrived at Pete Lake, which distance-wise was about half way to Spectacle Lake, though the remaining trail to Spectacle Lake gained quite a bit more altitude than the one I'd just traveled. My first bit of fun involved crossing a wide flowing stream in my bare feet (and almost falling half-way across!). Crossing at this "Primitive Crossing" saved a mile of additional hiking via a pair of bridges upstream.

By 9:20 I'd begun to hit the switchbacks climbing up to Spectacle Lake - but it was also getting pretty dark on the trail down on the forest floor. By 10:00 I still hadn't made the lake, and it was so dark I decided it was just plain dangerous to try to continue hiking without a light, so I got out my LED flashlight. What a difference! It worked great!

With my flashlight, I kept pushing up the switchbacks, going as fast as I could with the hope I'd soon arrive and be able to set up camp, cook some dinner, and relax. It sure seemed like I was going a lot higher than where I thought the lake should be, but I just kept pushing on. Then at 11:00 at the edge of one of the switchbacks I noticed something below me shimmering in the moonlight - a lake! In my haste to get to the lake as quickly as I could, I missed the cutoff trail! The good news was it was only 20 minutes hike back to the cutoff, and in about a half an hour I had found a campsite and was setting up my tent and stove. What a night!

Most of the rest of the trip was closer to "normal." On Thursday I hiked up to Spectacle Peak, then back down and relocated my camp out to the tip of the peninsula, where I relaxed, went for a swim, cooked dinner, watched the sunset and called it a night. Then at 4:30 AM I was awakened by rain on my face! The weather forecast had been good so I hadn't bothered to put on my tent's rain fly - bad idea! I had to jump up and get the rain fly on in the dark before all my gear and sleeping bag got soaked. Fortunately I'd put the rain fly on a couple of times before and was able to get it in place and attached in about a minute, then I jumped back inside and tried to go back to sleep. Unfortunately it was starting to get light and I wasn't too successful. After the initial downpour, the rain had stopped, and I decided it might be prudent to take advantage of the break and pack up. Not a moment too soon - just as I was finishing my packing and pulling on my rain gear, a big dark cloud came up over the mountain and let loose! My timing was perfect!

The hike out was wet, but otherwise uneventful. I opted for the footbridge steam crossing this time, which was quite pretty, but in hindsight I'd have preferred a mile less of hiking. By the time I finally made it back to my car, I was completely soaked under my rain gear, but I had clean clothes in the car, and within 15 minutes I was dry and toasty. On the way out of the woods I stopped for lunch in Roslyn WA which looked strangely familiar to me. Only after I'd finished eating at the Roslyn Cafe did I find out the TV series Northern Exposure had been filmed there (OK - some of it anyway)! This trip was a real adventure and a lot of fun, and made me realize a night hike is doable and tolerable and can even be fun! Believe it or not, I'm thinking of planning another one of these adventures in the very near future :-)

Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version

Pete Lake at sunset

Near side of the trail's "Primitive Crossing" across Delate Creek

Far side of the trail's "Primitive Crossing" across Delate Creek!

About what I could see during my night hiking to Spectacle Lake

First night's camp at Spectacle Lake

First night's camp at Spectacle Lake

A "Mini-Bear" scouting out my camp and food supplies

Me cooking breakfast day 2

A "barking" squirrel

Here's where I turned around night 1 (more later)

Three Queens above Spectacle Lake

View down to Spectacle Lake

View down to Spectacle Lake

View down to Spectacle Lake

Me and Spectacle Lake

Spectacle Lake camp site day 2 (on the penninsula tip)

This huge glacier-striated rock on the lake looked like a pig to me

Deep, clear water

Swimming in the deep, clear water!

Waterfall below Spectacle Lake

Huge tree on the trail near Pete Lake

A choice Lousyberry

This place look familiar? Ever watch Northern Exposure? I ate lunch here

Misty mountains shot along I90

Spectacle Point Panorama
All photos and content copyright (c) Peter Chrisbacher, 2005

Back to Pete's Seattle Page