It’s the beginning of fall and I realize I had requested a week off to walk to Portland. I decided to put that goal on hold to immerse myself in an epic solo outdoor adventure. That’s how I ended up on the Mountain Loop Highway on a Monday in autumn. I was delighted to find a mostly desolate scenic byway to myself with blue skies peaking out of the clouds. I knew it was going to be an enjoyable day.
This was an off the cuff adventure but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t do my homework on the area. I enjoy the planning as much and at times even more than the adventure itself. I had a few hikes in mind along this route but I zeroed in on Mt. Pilchuck initially, a very popular and heavily trafficked trail. Fate would have it that today was not my day for this hike. I had read about the road leading to the trailhead as gnarly and only manageable by a 4×4 vehicle. I drive a Scion and I’ve driven it for miles on dirt roads but in my research I read about what happens if you get stuck. There are no tow companies who will travel out there. I did attempt it for about a mile before I ultimately turned around.
After exiting back onto the main road it was in a matter of seconds that I came across the parking lot for Lake Twenty-Two, a trail I had become familiar with that was on my radar. A decent swath of cars lingered in the lot but nothing crazy and the sun was warm and inviting. I parked and grabbed the gear. I get excited every time I roll up to a trail head. I saw a lady with her dog just getting started and by the time I was on the trail she was headed back. She warned me the trail was washed out but I noticed that she wasn’t prepared with the right gear. The trail to Lake Twenty-Two is perpetually wet and the proper gear is essential to have a safe and fun experience.