A very short entry for a very short hike. I had work at 2, but it looked like the streak of good weather was ending and I wanted to get out for the sake of enjoying the sun before the Seattle clouds came back. Mirror Lake, hiked 4/20/2015.
- Distance: 3.3 miles (I went a bit down the PCT)
- Elevation: 850ft gain
- Weather: 60’s and sunny
- Commute from Seattle: 1:30
- Did I Trip: No!
This hike had actually stumped me back in October. I couldn’t find the trailhead. Too many logging roads, no signs, unreliable GPS (“pull to the side of i90 and navigate off road,” it told me. “off road” up a mountain densely packed with trees. High five, TomTom), and probably some nerves led me to give up last time since I had a lingering anxiety driving alone down forest roads. The anxiety has since dissipated, and I returned to see if I could eke out this hike before work.
The GPS still led me astray. The WTA directions were also hugely unhelpful. There were several four-way-intersections, where a main road branches into three directions. At the final intersection, freaking take the middle road! GPS sent me down the rightmost road (wrong) so I backtracked and went down the leftmost road (also wrong). Realized I was on the wrong side of Lost Lake, which is a great landmark – it should be on the left. It was to my right. Okay, backtrack again. I almost bailed at that point (the car that was following me did, I’m sure I looked like an idiot) but finally thought what the hell, let’s check out the middle road. I can at least have fun in the car if I don’t find the hike.
And the middle road was correct. I passed Lost Lake, passed the turnoff where I thought the hike was last time (nope) and finally came to a sign for the Mirror Lake trailhead. Which was .2 miles away, down a clear 4×4 road. Rutted (real ruts – 12″ deep ruts), rocky, overgrown brambles on the side. I chickened out and parked at the end and hiked it, thinking “you pansy, the xterra could have done this” with every step.
The trailhead is marked by a small wooden post. The road continues up, maybe something I’ll explore when I have the balls to take the rough road. I snuck off into the forest, and immediately realized that this was the quietest hike I’ve ever done off i90. You can’t hear the highway. It was amazing. I reminisced on my first solo hike/trail run, where the silence made me uneasy. And now, it’s a relaxing, liberating feeling, being alone on a trail in the woods.
There were a few big blowdowns to navigate, but the trail is very obvious and easy to follow. A few small streams, some flowers starting to bloom, and with the 60 degree sunny weather, hell it felt like summer. Why didn’t I wear shorts? Cottonwood lake is the first body of water you come to (more like a pond), and Mirror Lake is another half mile or so beyond that.
The trail certainly didn’t feel like it gained 850ft in a mile. It must have been very gradual, because I didn’t think it was steep. Though maybe that’s because my last hike was straight up (Eight Mile/Squire Creek Pass). I will say it’s definitely worth continuing around Mirror Lake to the PCT, where you get nice views overlooking a valley with Silver Peak in the distance, and a nice waterfall to the left of the trail. You can cross the waterfall and sit on some rocks to soak in the views with the sound of rushing water in the background, which is exactly what I did. Spent an hour catnapping in the sun before heading back to the car.
Short sweet hike if you’re crunched on time, and I bet it’s even prettier when the lakes are melted out in the summer. If I go back, I might double it with another hike, just to justify the drive to get there.