Lakes of the Washington Pacific Crest Trail, Part 2

In Part 1, I described the lakes where I camped. In this post, I am going to share lakes which were special to me even though I did not camp there.

Blue Lake, where I refilled my water before I met No Fucks, Indian Heaven Wilderness, Southern Washington

Blue Lake in the Indian Heaven Wilderness is special because a) it’s beautiful b) that’s where I did my water refill in Indian Heaven Wilderness and c) it’s beautiful. I had planned my hike so I would not stay overnight in Indian Heaven Wilderness (due to all of the mosquitoes) but if I were going to stay overnight in Indian Heaven, I’d try to claim one of the coveted campsites by Blue Lake.

“Small Pond” at mile 2240.6 on the Halfmile maps, Mount Adams Wilderness, Southern Washington.

Okay, this is a ‘pond’ not a ‘lake’, but it allowed me to take a Shiretoko Lakes style photo of Mount Adams, so this ‘pond’ counts as a special lake for me.

Sheep Lake, near Chinook Pass, Mount Ranier National Park, Southern Washington.

I know that Part 1 also has a photo of Sheep Lake, but it’s such a wonderful lake that I have to include it in this post too. It’s a great place to each lunch!

Mirror Lake, near Snoqualmie Pass, Central Washington.

Like most hikers, I think the PCT between Tacoma Pass and Snoqualmie Pass ranges from okay to awful (actually, I did not think it was as terrible as some of the guidebooks claim it is, but I suspect that’s because there have been some improvements since those books were written). But then there is Mirror Lake! Coming from the south, I first saw the waterfall created by the lake outlet, and then I got high enough to see the lake itself. Wonderful! And to make a magical place even more magical, there was trail magic – I got to eat some fruit, a sports drink, and some snacks. Thanks, Trail Angel! Mirror Lake is an island of fantastic in a sea of ugghhh. So, unless you want to complete the Washington PCT, my recommendation is to go straight to Mirror Lake (it’s only about an hour’s hike away from Ollalie Meadow, which has a road) and ignore the rest of the PCT between Tacoma Pass and Snoqualmie Pass.

Spectacle Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Central Washington.

When I first saw Spectacle Lake from that ridge, my reaction was ‘WHOAAAAAAAA!!!’ Looking at the pictures now, my reaction is still ‘WHOAAAAAAAA!!!!’

Waptus Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Central Washington.

Waptus Lake is a really big lake. I remember I took a break to dry out my gear (it had rained that morning) at a viewpoint where I spent a lot of time looking at this lake.

Deception Lakes, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Central Washington.

Deception Lakes was fantastic! (That is, it was a fantastic place to eat dinner and enjoy the scenery, I think I would have had problems if I camped there overnight). Just when I thought I couldn’t be more impressed by the lakes in Alpine Lakes Wilderness, I find these lakes which are beautiful in a *different* way from the other lakes I had seen.

Trap Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Central Washington.

I don’t know why Trap Lake caught my eye compared to other lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Maybe it’s special to me because it was my reward for ascending Trap Pass (the other reward was meeting some cool hikers who had camped at Trap Pass and had slept in that morning – I later met one of those hikers again at another lake, and then at Stevens Pass).

Pear Lake, Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, Northern Washington

Pear Lake is another one of those lakes which is the only water source for miles around it (and it’s also slightly off the PCT – I naively assumed there would be some place it would cross the PCT, but no, I had to backtrack to the side trail which leads to the lake). It’s a beautiful lake nonetheless, and worth visiting even if it wasn’t an important water source. And the water looked very clean and clear by the standards of sitting water.

Lake Sally Ann, Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, Northern Washington.

Lake Sally Ann is yet another beautiful lake. What I find special about Sally Ann (besides the local guy I met there) is the location. It’s on a mountain ridge where one doesn’t expect to see a lake, and while I was hiking up there I was wondering where the lake *could be*, and there it sits, improbably.

Reflection Pond, near White Pass, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Northern Washington

Some guidebooks describe Reflection Pond as being ‘gross’ but I thought it was a really cool spot. Yes, I drank the water here. I thought the views were excellent, and there was shade too.

Mica Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Northern Washington

Last but NOT LEAST is Mica Lake. Mica Lake has the distinction of being my ~favorite~ lake on the entire Washington PCT.

Mica Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Northern Washington

Mica Lake is an awesome place to hang out. I ate lunch and did some foot care there. I got water from the outlet (running water is usually better than standing water).

Outlet of Mica Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Northern Washington.

I noticed that someone had even built a little stone wall to offer a little wind protection for a campsite. Though I’m sure the wall helps, and even though this IS my favorite lake in Washington, I do not recommend camping here – the condensation will be horrible (one hiker I met, Chatterbox, did camp here, and he confirmed that the condensation is horrible). But if you don’t camp here, then condensation will not ruin your experience of this fantastic lake!

Mica Lake, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Northern Washington.

Since this is my favorite lake on the Washington PCT, it is the perfect lake to end this post.

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Lakes of the Washington Pacific Crest Trail, Part 1

The Pacific Crest Trail passes by quite a few lakes in Washington, which is not surprising, especially since about 70 miles of the PCT goes through a place called ‘Alpine Lakes Wilderness’. Heck, just a few miles north of the Bridge of the Gods there is a lake – Gillette Lake.

Gillette Lake, near the Bridge of the Gods.

Some names for lakes appear over and over again – for example, I passed by three different lakes called ‘Sheep Lake’.

Of the three different lakes called ‘Sheep Lake’ I passed in Washington, by far the most beautiful was the ‘Sheep Lake’ a few miles north of Chinook Pass in Mount Ranier National Park.

First of all, lakes often provide good camping! In a land full of mountains, it is sometimes hard to find a good flat spot to pitch a tent, but lakeshores tend to have flat places for tents. Of course, camping is bad for the vegetation around lakes, which why most (all?) wilderness areas have a rule saying that camping is prohibited within 100 feet of the lake. However, a lot of people ignore this rule.

Though I appreciate the camping opportunities offered by lakes, they do have a few disadvantages. First of all, they may be havens for flying insects which bite humans. Second of all, they increase the risk of condensation in tents, which was an important consideration for me since my tent will get condensation if I do not choose a good site for it. These two problems are the may reasons I would prefer to camp next to a creek over camping next to a lake. But the most important consideration for picking a camping place is whether it is where I am at the end of a hiking day, and sometimes my hiking day ended at lakes rather than creeks or dry camps.

Anyway, here is a run-down of all of the lakes where I camped:

Pipe Lake, William O. Douglass Wilderness, Southern Washington, about 7 miles north of White Pass.

Pipe Lake is a lovely lake, but what I remember most about the lake is that I camped next to some people from the Tri-Cities area. It was a pleasure to share the evening with them.

Dewey Lake, Willaim O. Douglass Wilderness, Southern Washington.

Dewey Lake was magnificent in a way which my photos fail to capture. It was not the best camping spot due to the abundance of flying insects which like to bite humans, but it worked well enough as a place to sleep. Besides, did I mention that it was magnificent?

Ridge Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Central Washington.

Ridge Lake was an important water source because it was the last water source for over five miles (unless you were desperate enough to get water from puddles), and those were five of the hardest miles on the PCT in Washington at that. I didn’t just get water at Ridge Lake, I slept there (and many others camped there too, including rock climbers).

Lake Janus in the morning, Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, Northern Washington.

Like many hikers, I decided to camp at Lake Janus since it was the last major camping area (not to mention the last campsite with water) before an uphill climb that none of us were in the mood for that evening.

Near Purple Point Campground, Stehekin, Northern Washington.

Purple Point Campground, which is where I slept in the town of Stehekin, is just a stone’s throw away from Lake Chelan, which is the largest lake in the entire state of Washington (!), the third deepest lake in the USA (!!) (the PCT also passes the deepest and second deepest lakes in the USA – Crater Lake and Lake Tahoe).

Hopkins Lake, Pasayten Wilderness, Northern Washington.

Last but not least is Hopkins Lake, the very last place I camped on the PCT before I completed my hike through Washington. I admit that I was not having the best hiking day, and I was really looking forward to seeing the lake. I wasn’t thinking much about reaching the USA/Canada border, I wanted to see the lake because that meant I would be able to stop hiking. And indeed, when I first saw the lake from above, I was really happy, because even though it took a little while before I was actually at the lake, I knew that I was near my place of rest. Furthermore, it was the first water source after 10 miles of no water – getting to a water source after 10 dry miles is always a relief. A lot of people camped there (it’s arguably the best campsite near the USA/Canada border), and it had great meaning for most of us because it marked the ends of our hikes, however long or short they were. I couldn’t believe that it was my last night in my tent! For those of us who were continuing into Canada, it was our last night in the United States.

There were, of course, lakes where I did not camp but are still extremely worthy of mention! I will share them with you in Part 2!

I have to share with you another photo of Hopkins Lake because I love it so much! Seriously, if you ever find yourself in the Pasayten Wilderness, I highly recommend spending some time at Hopkins Lake.