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Swan Lake
posted by John : November 4, 2007

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Hiking again?

Once again Amy needed some quiet time to do some serious quilting. I guess we could go hiking. Nana was coming to help Amy so that meant Carl was assigned to help herd the kids.

On Keechelus Ridge, just east of Snoqualmie Pass, is a series of four lakes. It's the same general area as Baker Lake and a spot I wanted to get to this year. I had written it off after the early October snow, but since then the snow has almost completely disappeared. In fact, we saw only a few tiny spots of snow on the 45 minute drive to the trailhead.

As with most of the recent hikes it's a little inaccurate to say "trailhead" since there's no signs, no trail, nothing that indicates we ought to get out and hike. This time it was just a wide spot in the road where it seemed we ought to park because the road got slightly more nasty ahead. (Plus, I didn't really want to drive all the way to the lake.)

It turns out we could have driven another third of a mile without much of a problem. But then we would have missed looking down a steep slope at Gale Creek. It's the outlet from Swan Lake and right at this turn in the road we could see a slide to a pool and a decent looking waterfall. No chance we could get there with the kids, but I could have made it down and back up (maybe) or at least accessed the creek from closer to the car... next time.

The road was pretty good for walking. The girls held our hands as we wandered up the hill at a maddeningly slow pace. Clara was hopping from rock to rock and Lilly took to walking on her heels only.

Where the road became more or less undriveable we took the higher fork in the road and continued up a steeper, but more wooded area. At the top of the hill was another fork. Studying the map indicated the fork heading down would go to Swan Lake while the high fork led to Rock Rabbit Lake. We took the low road and switchbacked down the hill. Through the trees we could see Swan Lake, but just barely. Jumping off the road wasn't an option, but the way it continued looked like it was heading the wrong way.

Just as we were starting back up the hill I took a few steps down the hill and saw the road below us so I called the kids (and Carl) back to continue down. At the bottom we found a camp site on the shore of the lake with a bench, fire pit, and table.

The wind was blowing and it was chilly, but the girls were happy to sit on the bench eating lunch and anticipating the goodness of cocoa. Sorry... I meant to say "hot chocolate." Clara instructs me that it's not "cocoa." Who am I to argue?

Just after deciding that Henry could wait to get back to the car for his lunch he started fussing. Considering our tight timeline (back by 2pm for naps) I made his bottle, zipped him up tight in my jacket, and fed him on the way out. It worked remarkably well and he fell asleep after drinking only a few ounces.

The girls rode much of the way on our shoulders, but I kicked Lilly of so I could try to take pictures of some late-season blueberries stuck in an eddy of the road-side creek. Unfortunately, Tokul came through and mucked up the photo op and it was then that I realized Henry was hanging just about upside down. At least I got one good picture out of it.

Back at the car the girls got changed into their travelling clothes and we headed home. Timing would be tight, but we would just make the 2pm target... until I smelled that smell. Lovely. I could wait until we got home, but if he blew out completely that'd be really nasty. So we pulled over and I changed Henry who smiled through the entire ordeal. At least he didn't pee on me.

We wound up about 15 minutes late getting home. Dang. Still, the 2.2 miles and 600 feet of gain was good fun and we bagged a new lake to boot. Clara declared that Mommy would like this lake and I like the area enough to head back to check out the oher lakes below Mt. Margaret. If the snow holds off for another few weeks I might even get to them this year.

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