Backpacking Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness
by Jeff Smoot (Falcon Guides)
© Jeff Smoot/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
This was a great hike! The first 4 miles were nice and rolling along not easy but defiantly not hard at all. The last 3 miles especially the last half mile are very hard and will leave most hikers tired sore and out breath. The lakes are incredible even though the camping is very limited.
When they say it's a strenuous hike, they aren't kidding. The first 4 1/2 miles are good, easy passing Hyas Lakes. Once you branch off the Deception Pass trail to continue on towards Tuck and Robin it begins to seriously climb. It's about 2 miles to Tuck lake and it's narrow, steep and you definitely need to use your hands. We made it to Tuck in under 3 hours. Exhausted, sore, and a little grumpy - we took a much needed break. After Tuck it's almost another 2 miles of tricky & confusing trail that pretty much is just a scramble. Finally, you reach Robin Lakes - which take your breath away. Everyone we passed on the trail talked about being eaten alive. So when we came over the ridge and saw the lakes and the first group of campers wearing mosquito nets - things weren't looking good. We headed left over to the larger Robin Lake & talked with another group (again wearing nets) pointing us in the direction of an empty camp site nearby. We noticed these groups were camping near bogs and marsh. The skeeters were horrible! So we backtracked and headed over to the smaller lake. It's rockier, less marshy and the bugs were moderate, but manageable. We got this great campsite close to the lake and had great views of Cathedral Rock & Mt Daniels. The weather varied from cloudy, sunny, thunderstorms, pouring rain. The second day was perfectly sunny with just a little fog before sunrise. There were lots of goats out. Four of them passed right by me, 6' away if that. They walked by one at a time, each stopped to look at me for 10 - 15 seconds. They were so close I could hear them breathing. Of course my camera was out of battery life by then, but it was still a really cool experience. We packed up and were the last to leave the lakes at 12:30 in the afternoon. The hike down was grueling! It was hot and steep and we were still hurting from the previous day. The flies were out and worsened the lower we got. All said and done it was an amazing hike, difficult but really rewarding.
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