I’ve taken my youngest daughter, who is 13, on a few hikes with me. I love the outdoors and so does she. She plays soccer so I know she is in good shape and can handle, with much more ease than I, any of the hikes I have been on. I’ve not taken her on any real strenuous ones because I don’t want to fade her love of the outdoors, but she has been asking me to take her on a hike to an alpine lake. She shows me a photo of me in a hammock at Colchuck Lake and says “like this one”. Off to gathering research I go!
I find a hike to Snow Lake, which is located at Snoqualmie Pass in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It’s an 8 mile roundtrip hike with a little less than 2,000 foot elevation climb. I show her some pictures and she says lets go! Of course that means bringing her BFF as well. They both want to swim in the lake! I let them know the like is just snow runoff so it is pretty chilly. At 13 they don’t seem to worry about that. For me, it probably would cause me to stop breathing so I’ll just watch from the shore.
We arrive at the trailhead at 10:30 and the parking lot is full. This is a very popular hike and boy they weren’t kidding! Lots of families and dogs on the trail, which is fairly narrow in sections as you climb through rock talus. A little hard on the ankles as the rocks moves as you step on them. It was about 80 degrees when we started so I’m glad I packed extra water as there is little shade on this trail. I love that people love the outdoors and want to experience all the beauty the State of Washington has to offer, but these crowded trails really drive in the importance of trail etiquette. Not because it just makes people grumpy when hikers don’t know or follow trail etiquette, but more importantly it is a safety issue on narrow trails on steep inclines!
The trails winds across the mountain with several switchbacks through the forest and across rock talus. At several of the clearings you can really see how far up you have climbed. That made the kids feel good about how high they were climbing. I could tell they were getting a little discouraged towards the top as they were really hot and the climb was longer than they were expecting. Two nice men stopped at a corner and provided them some encouragement that they only had one switchback left and would be at the top in just a couple minutes. This gave them the spark they needed to charge up to the top, dragging me behind. We ran into Tami and her family at the top.
At the top you get your first view of snow lake. It is a large lake that is deep blue. Much darker than Colchuck. It is nestled in between the mountain ridge lines. From the top, you have to climb down 400 feet to the lake. Once the kids saw the lake they made a mad dash for the trail down to the lake. We found an old rock structure near the lake. It must be the remnants of an old house or something. The lake is quite rocky, so it is a bit hard on the feet. The kids quickly changed and headed to the water. I’m guessing it took about 10 minutes for them to actually swim. The 10 minutes was getting use to how cold the water was. Definitely more chilly than they expected. Nadine lost her balance and fell in, then Kylie decided to just dunk herself. Nolan decided to give it a try too. I bet they swam for a good 15 minutes. Oh to be young! Great way to cool off after a hot, sweaty and dusty hike. I chose the more subtle approach and just soaked my feet and ankles in the water. That was enough for me! It sure felt good though! We ate some lunch and then decided we better head out.
I have to admit I was dreading the hike out of the canyon from the lake up to the trail, but I was pleasantly surprised. It actually was harder going down then coming up! Bonus!! The hike out was good, but very busy. Lots of hikers coming up. We passed a few dogs in the trail that were just laying down and wouldn’t go any further. Too hot for dogs and people don’t bring enough water!! I’ve even decided I’m to carry a cooler in the back of my truck with extra water, electrolyte drinks and chocolate milk. My buddy Todd did this on the Colchuck hike and boy did that cold chocolate milk taste good after a long hike!
It took us about 80 minutes to hike up to Snow Lake and 60 minutes to hike out. Kylie said mom that was a lot of work for a quick swim in the lake but it was a good workout. Now I think I need to let her try out a backpacking trip!
It’s important to spend time with your kids. They grow up so fast! It just seems like yesterday they were starting elementary school, but now they are a junior in high school and starting 8th grade.
Memory making is so important. Adventures they will carry with them for a lifetime and maybe even pass on to their kids.