Friday, August 27, 2010

Chain Lakes 8.26.10

When I was much younger my family would go to a special beach every year and every year it was a soaker. I would wonder why we would put ourselves through it each year. Finally one year the weather was perfect and the answer was apparent. I feel like Chain Lakes is my new soaker. I had been watching the weather closely and it seemed less than ideal but I felt like being East of the crest maybe the weather gods would be kind to me. It is amazing what a difference a day can make, yesterday it was 92 degrees when we crested Snoqualmie Pass on the way home from Cooper lake and today it was in the mid 40's at Chain Lakes. I had a leisurely start and still made it to my jump off point on the Upper Mill Creek Road at 1pm a full hour faster than what I was hoping for. I had already packed so I just donned the rain gear. There was on car at the parking spot and the man chatted me up. He was waiting for his wife to meet him for supplies as she is doing the PCT thru Washington. Since he planned on meeting her a Lake Susan Jane I suggested the shortcut that I was to use. I walked him to where it starts and then we parted ways. From the onset I felt great, the legs felt strong and the pack seemed light. I was able to reach the small pass above LSJ in 35 minutes and quickly
 dropped to the Icicle Creek trail. It wasn't raining but it had rained recently and my layers did there best to keep me dry. I passed a couple of young men who had just came down from Chain Lakes and they let me know that there was someone still camped there and let me know of their secret spot. I was planning on bypassing the Chain Lakes area entirely and camping at Doelle Lakes instead.






I soon reached the Chain Lakes Trail and the weather looked to be lightning up and I had renewed hope that my plans would still go. The first portion of the climb went very quickly and I soon began the traverse and I even managed enough sunlight to briefly see my shadow. As I reached the lake basin the weather became quite awful. Everything was soaked and the wind was blowing COLD. I nixed the idea of heading to Doelle and started looking for a campsite. I managed to find the one that was too open for my light tarp and bivy sack. I did find a small spot nearby that would have worked but I was very wet and freezing. I had noticed a small campsite along the Icicle just before the junction to the CLT and thought a campfire sounded what I needed. I passed a single lady and I really wished I had asked her name because she looked alot like Fay Pullen or at least the pictures I had seen. I had a short talk with her and I was amazed to see a single woman of that age in such an out of the way place with such poor conditions. I have to say it made me feel a little shaky about my choice to retreat. Once reaching the campsite I was dismayed to find the dry site now was under water. Doing some rough calculation I figured I could still make it out before dark. I did the my best to push the pace but being wet and cold didn't help much. I finally reached the dreaded climb from the valley floor to rejoing the PCT. I surprised myself with little amount of time it took. I thankfully rejoined my spur back to the car and was able to navigate without headlamp. Driving the UMCR was a treat in the dark driving rain but I just took it slow and soon I was back on Hy 2. The rain was intense on the way to Monroe making me very glad I wasn't trying to bivy in it.



Approx 14 miles 4300' of climb 7:10 car to car

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