Throwback Thursday: Pratt Lake

Throwback Thursday: Pratt Lake

By: Shelby September 24, 2015 10:31 pm 0 comments

I know our last post (in April, cough cough) was a “Throwback Thursday” post, but I felt like I needed another one to jump back into the blogging game. It might seem a little silly to look back on a fairly insignificant weekend after all of the momentous events this year, and even this summer. But I wanted ot take some time to look back on that unassuming weekend trip, that had so little buildup or fanfare, and so few expectations. Planning your own wedding is hard. It eats up a ton of time and makes you want to bury your head in the sand and hope people might forget about it. We wanted a quiet weekend in a quiet corner of the woods. On a spectacular weekend in May that heralded an early summer, we packed our bags and headed to Pratt Lake.

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A few things about the hike:

We wanted a chill place to hang out and have a quiet weekend that was also close to home. I wasn’t looking for anything spectacular, just a nice place to hang the hammocks and enjoy the warming temps. After doing much reading on WTA.org, I found Pratt Lake, which is only about an hour drive from Seattle, which is awesome. After talking to some other hikers, we decided to take the Talapus & Olallie lakes route to Pratt Lake, rather than the Pratt Lake trail itself, which is supposedly pretty boring as a trail.

We were pleasantly surprised to find the road to the trailhead had just been regraded days before. It went from total post-apocalyptic war zone to a really drivable road. Hallelujah! The parking lot was packed, so we had to park about 100 yards down the road, which was a little disheartening for me. I wanted a quiet weekend, and it looked like half of Washington was parked here. Granted, I know that Talapus & Olallie lakes are a super popular day hike (that we did way back in February ourselves, and the blog post is still pending… womp womp). I get campsite anxiety. Is that a thing? I get super stressed out that I won’t find a good campsite and will instead be relegated to some dumpy, toilet corner of the woods. I’m working on this.

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The main trail was swarming with people, as expected. We powered on up past this part, having been here before. While people tromped all over Talapus Lake’s shore, we charged up the hill, through the crowds, without stopping. However, as soon as we turned off the main trail towards Pratt Lake, we found blissful solitude.

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This hike was surprisingly difficult, with what’s basically just a long steady climb to the top of a ridge. Maybe it was because it was our first overnight trip of the season, or maybe it was We got a brief, awesome glimpse of Rainier over Olallie Lake, right before descending down into the lake basin. Despite the climb, the worst part of this trail was the long, slow descent down to the lake. We saw it and thought “oh, it’s right there! We’re almost there.” But then the trail swung around and around through the valley, over talus fields and through rocky, rooty forest. We eventually made it to the quiet lake, dropped our bags, and rested our tired feet for a bit, before looking for the perfect site.

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We eventually found the perfect spot that was tucked away in the trees. I must say, after a long hike, there’s nothing better than setting up camp, taking off your boots and sitting back in your camp chair. We cooked some lunch (yummy beef stew!), I painted a little bit with my favorite travel watercolors (which I actually remembered to bring on this trip), and we laid in our hammocks and read for hours.

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Bear hangs do still prove to be difficult. Spenser is just so good at knot tying that when we threw it over the branch and tied it off, the bag didn’t want to come back down, even when we asked nicely. Eventually, thankfully, we got it down. I think I’ll forever love bear canisters more than hangs. I just feel like I always want something out of the bag as soon as it’s hanging and tied off. Or I forget something in my bag that needs to go in it. It’s just a mess. Bear cans are so easy.

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One more exciting thing about this weekend was that it was my last camping trip ever in which I had to wear contacts!!! I got LASIK just a couple of weeks later (best decision ever!). This was the last trip I ever had to fumble around with getting them in and out with campy fingers, last time fumbling around with glasses, last time for any of that hassle! YAY!

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All in all, it was a fantastic, quiet, and relaxing weekend!

Northwest Forest Pass required

Total mileage / elevation gain: 11 miles / 2080 feet
Hike time: 3hr 16 min / 2hr 59min

Directions to the trailhead: From Seattle, head east on I-90 to exit 45. Turn left onto FR 9030. In 1 mile follow the road around to the right at a junction to Talapus & Olallie Lakes.

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