DAY 2: Ridge Lake to Lemah Creek (14.5 miles)
Today’s hike is brought to you by the word “wow.” Today’s section was a truly incredible trail. Already the Alpine Lakes Wilderness outweighed my expectations.
I got going decently early, hoping to get through some of the climbs of the day before the worst of the heat. The first couple miles stayed high and exposed on a slope around a cirque. Down below I could see Alaska Lake. Next the trail passed over a ridge through a saddle and dropped down to another lake cirque, this time around Joe Lake.
The climb really began after passing by Joe Lake. I had to gain first a high saddle, then the high southern slope of a ridge. The trail dropped a bit along the ridge but then had to climb again to pass through another saddle. The views were absolutely incredible. I could see all the way out the valley to the I-90 corridor. Plus, along the way I had pikas chirping at me.
After passing through a saddle, I had a long downhill along a scree slope. I stopped to refill my water at a section of mostly dried up ponds. The one stream that was my source was also down to a trickle. Washington really needs some rain!
One more uphill climb for the day, and then a long long long downhill. I decided to break up my day with a detour to Spectacle Lake. I had seen it from higher up and decided the 0.5 mile detour was worth it for a dip in the lake. I’m very glad I went. The water was a perfect temperature and it was a lovely spot to enjoy my lunch. I relaxed for well over an hour before heading back to the main trail.
After that I had a relatively easy 3.5 miles to my campsite. There was a nice waterfall and then an old forest fire zone.
My campsite was at Lemah Creek and already had a couple campers relaxing. Around dinnertime a couple women joined our site. Later in the evening there were a number of a PCT thru-hikers that came through, having done the 20 miles from Snoqualmie Pass that day.
It was certainly my busiest, most social day on trail yet. Lots of section hikers heading southbound, PCT thru-hikers and a handful of others like me doing longer sections.
Should be an interesting week on trail!