Friday, February 26, 2010

Greenwater Lakes

Greenwater Lakes - February 20, 2010

It was a wonderful day for a hike – sunny and almost warm. Getting to the trailhead was easy too – Forest Service Road No. 70 was in good shape all the way to the trailhead, no ice or snow at all to contend with.

It’s unusual to be able to do this hike so early – in a normal year (whatever that means) the roads/trails off SR 410 are popular with skiers, snowmobiles, etc and a Sno Park is required. How strange to find the Sno Parks devoid of snow and only a dusting of snow on higher destinations.

We displayed a Northwest Forest Pass on the car at the trailhead and began our hike. We were not alone on this sunny day but that may be because some hikers assume it’s too early to hike this trail.

The bright sunlight increased our spring fever – we looked for other signs of spring as well as unprecedented warmth and lack of precipitation of any kind. Mother Nature is still holding her breath; uncertain as to whether or not more snow is to come. Despite the sense of imminent spring it felt like winter in the shady areas and foliage has yet to burst forth from tight, protective buds.

The lakes (also known as Meeker Lakes) are the greenest lakes we’ve ever seen; they are well named. An overcast day would have been welcome, at least for photography. The combination of blinding sunlight and dark shadows made photography impossible but we weren’t complaining; we were glad to experience sunlight so warm we didn’t need gloves until we hiked through shade.

The trail is in good shape with sturdy bridges where needed. We hiked as far as the turnoff toward Lost Lake before turning around and picking out a lunch spot in the sun on a sunny log. At various scenic spots a few hikers were setting up campsites; campfire smoke drifted across the green, green lakes like a good omen.

We spent so much time enjoying the lakes that we used up our turnaround time and headed back to civilization except for a quick stop at Wapiti Woolies to check out the sale rack and grab a hot drink.

To get there – from Enumclaw head east on SR 410, turn off onto FS Road No. 70 (left) – the road is paved. In a little less than 10 miles look for a short, gravel spur (right) that leads to trailhead parking and the beginning of the trail.

Do you need a Sno Park? We didn’t have one so displayed the Northwest Forest Pass instead. Most of the other cars at the trailhead did not have Sno Parks either so we are not certain whether or not a Sno Park is “officially” needed to hike here. Signs along FS Road No. 70 warn that Sno Parks are needed but in all honesty, we don’t know what rules apply when there is no snow whatsoever. We gambled and got away without one – however you might not want to take that chance.

Other recent hikes include another hike on Cougar Mountain – we hiked from Red Town to Coal Creek Parkway and got back to the car just in time to beat the rain. En route we hiked to Sandstone Falls though that trail is “closed”. We found a few signs of spring here and there; Indian plum is blooming and nettles are springing up though the landscape is still mostly in winter mode. The hike is about 6 miles round trip.

On February 24th we hiked to Twin Falls from Exit No. 38 off I-90 despite the rain. Where better to hike on a rainy day but to a waterfall? There were only a few hikers on the trail; no surprise given the weather. Despite the rain we enjoyed our easy stroll and were mesmerized (as always) by the waterfalls at the overlooks. The hike is a little over 3 miles round trip.

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