Heather Lake

Yet another unseasonably hot day in a year of unseasonably hot days. Rather than fry on summits I have been hiking to forested lakes. I usually would not do three lake hikes in two weeks during mid summer but a relaxing day with some cool beats being grilled above tree line. After Lake 22 and Annette Lake I set out for Heather Lake. Like Lake 22 it sits in a deep bowl on the north side of Mt. Pilchuck. Even in summer the sun does not get too far above the ridge. I headed north to Granite Falls and on to Verlot. The last mile of the Mt. Pilchuck Road full of potholes. I did okay coming in but managed to bottom out twice on the way back out. Still, it's only a mile.

I arrived at the trailhead at about 7:50 am. There were half a dozen or so cars in the lot. By 8:02 I was on the trail. I last did this hike on a 90 degree day in 2011. I recalled that it was short at about 2.25 miles one way. I had forgotten just how rooty and rocky it is. I set out at a good pace passing a family a short way along. The forest is dark and was still fairly cool even on the way down in the afternoon. No views or any sun all the way up to the lake.

The hike went by fast. I passed another twosome higher up and one more group a little before the lake. All the steps and loose rock slowed me down but I reached the lake at 8:54 am, taking 52 minutes to hike up. There is a big patch of skunk cabbage just before the lake. No yellow "flowers" but all the leaves looked very healthy. At his elevation I would expect them to be dying out already. At the lake I chose to do the circle clockwise. Last time I did it counter clockwise. The previous time I was at the lake there was no trail around it. That was some time ago. Nice reflection shots from the shore looking at the big wall behind the lake.

Just like at Lake 22, I found a number of patches of pink Lewis monkeyflower. These were mostly right at their peak. Heading to the back of the lake I found a big rock right next to the trail. It was largely in the shade. Up I went. For the next four hours I sat on the rock and read a book. A little breeze, nice shade, and views of the lake. There was one party nearby at the shore. Soon others began to arrive. And they kept coming. This is not a hike to do on a summer weekend if you are looking for solitude. This is a nice lake with a short trail and lots of visitors. This day I was fine with that. Below my rock was a boardwalk in a marshy section. With the lack of rain it was not very marshy. It did channel dozens of hikers right on by me.

The book was only 134 pages and I nearly finished it. A lazy day in the mountains. By about 1:00 pm the sun reached my rock. It went from comfortable to steaming. On the other side of the trail was another big rock. That one had an evergreen tree right behind it. I climbed on top of that one and the temperature dropped about 30 degrees. By 1:30 pm I had spent 4.5 hours at the lake and pack out to head back. Continuing the loop I stopped in several places. I was not in a big hurry to leave. There were a lot of folks in the water. Some dipping their feet and many more swimming. A few folks brought air mattresses for floating.

I passed through a number of campsites in the trees. I was surprised to find not a single one in use by campers. Everyone so far was just there for the day. At the outlet the creek was flowing very low and slow. If the lake drops a little more it will cease to run at all. At 1:50 pm I reached to end of the loop trail and headed out. I met several groups near the lake coming up. I expected a steady stream but that was not the case. I probably saw a dozen more groups but far less than I expected to see in early afternoon. Lots of knee banging coming down but it is short. Fifty minutes later I was back at my car. Folks were parked up and down the road on both sides. Exactly what you would expect on a hot day.

Heather Lake is not a memorable hike. The lake is nice but not that scenic. The backdrop is pretty spectacular. It is very accessible from Puget Sound cities. All in all I was pleased to have a short drive, a short hike, and a long stay at the lake. It was a lot more comfortable than a day in the city. Hey, I almost ready my whole book too. A nice way to spent a hot day. Now I'd like to see a weekend with 75-80 degrees and not 95 degrees.

Few Cars In The Lot
Big Stump
Skunk Cabbage
Heather Lake
Steep Basin Walls
Still Shady
Lots Of Grass
Steep Reflection
Far End Of Lake
Pink Monkey Flower
Shade Is Leaving
On The Boardwalk
Very Green
Many & One Flower
Far From Lake
Where I Came From
View From Perch
Broken Trees
Folks By The Lake
Round Lake?
View Of Lake
Framed View
Shades Of Green
Near Outlet
Lots Of Cars Now
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2015