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Larch Lake shim John & Kristie

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hikes :: Saturday, September 26, 2009
Larch Lake
WENATCHEE NATIONAL FOREST, WA :: I was eager to return to the mountains and wanted to spend a night outdoors, but I didn't want to camp in the freezing cold. I also hoped to catch the season's changing colors, particularly the golden larches. My research led me to Larch Lake, which seemed like the ideal destination, but the 23 mile trail via Chiwaukum Creek would be too long for a day hike - and again, too cold to camp in comfort. Fortunately, a much shorter, 11 mile route originates from the Scottish Lakes High Camp. This plan fit the bill perfectly!

I called the privately owned camp and reserved one of its smaller cabins for one night. Early in the day, the very friendly owners and crew picked me up alongside US 2. Upon arriving at my cabin, I unloaded my overnight gear and immediately hit the trail, knowing I had limited daylight this time of year.

The trail from the camp basically climbs up to McCue Ridge, descends down to Chiwaukum Lake, climbs back up through scenic Ewing Basin, and up a little further to beautiful Larch Lake. The entire way was varied and interesting, changing from forest, to open rocky ridges, back to forest, to boulder-strewn prairie, and finally to a picturesque alpine lake. Brilliant reds and yellows lined the trail, but I think I was a couple weeks too early for the larches.

It was a gorgeous day, but I was very glad I decided not to camp. The winds picked up in the late afternoon and the temperatures dropped quickly. Whitecaps and plumes of mist blew off of the lake, and the trees moaned and creeked ominously as they swayed above me. I double-timed back to the safety and warm wood stove of my cabin!

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