Today was a hike to a mountain lake, which is pretty nice since it’s mid-April and mountain lakes in the Northwest aren’t supposed to melt out until July. One of the great things about the Olympic Mountains is that there is actually quite a few low-elevation trails that present year-round hiking and backpacking options. Lena Lake, which lies only at 1700 feet is one of those great options. You get views through the trees on the long, gently graded switchbacks of snow-covered summits, making the hike up seem like just any other midsummer mountain hike, except that it’s not midsummer. You get all of the mountain scenery several months earlier than other mountain trails.
The only problem with Lena Lake is that it gets busy, which makes sense since it’s one of the first trails reached from Olympia, it goes to a nice lake, and as already mentioned, it is free of snow when other trails are still buried.
Still, even with all of the people, our visit to Lena Lake was great. We had a pretty warm day, mid-60s, sun, and it’s been a while since I’ve had the feeling of really being in the back-country (with that many people, and proximity to the car, I really wasn’t in the backcountry). It’s also been quite a long time since I’ve hiked in the Olympics — probably five or six years. The Olympics are actually a special place, and it’s been too long since I’ve been there. It’s where I met my lovely wife, it’s where I first gained my thirst of adventure and became a hiker, and it’s where my father spent much of his time hiking and backpacking, which in turn led to my love of those things.
The hike, especially on the way up reawakened that dirtbag hiker that lies within me. The one who wants to figure out how to just hike, backpack, mountain bike, paddle, and explore as much as possible, ideally eschewing the normal constraints of society to spend the majority of the time having interesting adventures. It’s a dangerous thing, but luckily, I’ll have to work tomorrow which should stamp out that feeling pretty quickly.