Studio711

Outdoors

Heybrook Lookout

Tyla and I hiked up to the Heybrook Lookout fire tower back in 2009. This past Saturday, I got to do it again but this time it was with Elijah.

Earlier in the week I had given him a choice of a waterfall or a fire tower. The fire tower was a two mile round trip with almost 1000 feet of elevation gain so I knew it would be a stretch but he could do it with a good attitude. So all week I pumped him up by talking about going on an adventure to a secret tower in the woods. I later realized that he wasn’t very excited so I asked him why… turns out the idea of a secret tower in the woods sounds a little scary to a 6 year old.

With that mistake rectified, and after waiting for some morning rain to clear out, we hit the trailhead around noon. He was getting pretty tired by the time we neared the top but his pace was good. We passed a few groups and never got passed ourselves. He made it up in 55 minutes. We climbed to the observation deck of the tower but it was pretty chilly in the wind with our sweaty shirts so we snapped a few photos and went back down to eat lunch on the picnic tables.

The trip down took about 40 minutes which felt slow. Going up was easier for him because there were some pretty big wet rocks to climb back down and that’s tricky when you’re only 3.5 feet tall. We stopped at DQ in Monroe on the way back to celebrate our adventure. The trip was a total success!

Lake Wenatchee State Park

Back in 2011, Tyla and I went to a sled dog race near Lake Wenatchee with Tim and Chelsea. That’s the only time I’ve been near Lake Wenatchee State Park, but a couple weekends ago, we went back with Elijah and Tyla’s family to camp at the state park.

As the name implies, Lake Wenatchee State Park sits right on the lake. We booked pretty late (only seven months in advance!) so we got the runt of the litter for campsites but they ended up being pretty nice. We were warned in advance about bugs by numerous internet reviews but thankfully we hardly saw any.

This was our first camping trip trying to sleep on cots instead of air mattresses. Tim and Chelsea loaned us two normal sized cots and I bought an ogre sized cot for myself. I think we might add a thin pad or air mattress on top of them in the future but they worked great! They take up the same space as our air mattresses did but it opens up all the space below the cots for our bags so it is a lot easier to navigate the tent.

Crystal Hike

Last year around this time, we tried to go on a hike at Crystal Mountain with Tyla’s family. That was canceled because of some really bad wildfires that got very close to the resort. We decided to give it another shot recently and it went much better.

The day started off cloudy so we just caught glimpses of Rainier off the top of the gondola, but it was nice to not be in direct sunlight for the first part of the hike. We took the Crystal Mountain trail which comes off the top of the gondola, across Lucky Shot and over the top of Bear Pits, under Forest Queen, out past the Queens and Tinkerbell runs into the woods to a couple lakes, and finally past the old mine and under the Gold Hills lift. The trail map claims it’s 4.8 miles but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a tad longer than that.

The hike is all downhill so I figured Elijah would handle it ok, but I forgot that it’s a bit too technical for him. There was a lot of loose gravel at the beginning and then the second half had some big roots. Thankfully he did incredibly well and only started getting tired on the last mile or so. I did have to carry him for a while but I still give him an A for the day.

It wasn’t a super photogenic day due to the clouds at the beginning but here are a few photos from the day. Be sure to look at the upper ridge in the last picture. You can see how far down the slope the fire got last year. It was VERY close to the resort!

Independence and Coal Lakes

In 2010, Tyla and I attempted to drive up a forestry road off of the Mountain Loop Highway but got turned around by snow. This past weekend, I finally got to attempt it again. Logan, Tyla, Elijah and I headed up there to hike to Coal and Independence Lakes.

The drive up the forest road is one of the highlights of the trip for me. It’s not for the faint of heart (or the low of ground clearance.) Much of the road is a single lane with no space for two cars to pass unless one is willing to plunge many hundred feet down the mountain. I was happy to have plenty of ground clearance though we never needed four wheel drive.

We parked at the first parking lot, walked up the trail and immediately found Coal Lake. There wasn’t much to see because the whole mountain was enshrouded in a cloud. That’s when I looked at the map and realized that we hadn’t actually hit the end of the road where the Independence Lake trailhead is, so we hopped back in the truck and drove a couple more minutes to the end of the road. 

It’s only about a mile to the lake, but it took us ~40 minutes because Elijah had a tough time climbing up and over all the big rocks and roots that were in the trail. On the way back, I carried his hiking pole and we made it back in just about half the time. I think he gets distracted by where to place the pole sometimes.

Independence Lake was disappointing as we couldn’t see anything due to the fog/clouds. The trail goes on to North Lake but that’s not something Elijah would be able to handle so we had a little snack and turned around.

I don’t think Elijah was all too thrilled but I enjoyed it. I loved being on a hike that wasn’t crowded with people in flip flops carrying tiny dogs. I want to go back again on a clearer day and hopefully make it to North Lake as well.

A few pictures are included below along with our dashcam video of the drive up the road.

Lake 22

Lake 22 is one of the more popular and well-known hikes in the area. That’s usually for a good reason so Logan and I decided to check it out. Popular also usually means “crowded trail” so even with a ~75 minute drive to the trailhead, we were on the trail by 7:20am. Most of the hike is on rock either because it was naturally there or because it was placed there to help avoid damage from the endless streams of water that cross the trail. It’s 2.7 miles and 1350 feet to the lake, but we added some more by walking around the whole lake. I highly recommend that as the opposite end of the lake has a great view looking almost straight up a huge rock face. Our trip down took quite a while as we stepped aside for the never ending stream of people coming up. While we both enjoyed the hike, it’s not very high on our repeat list. There are so many other great hikes with fewer crowds.