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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lake of the Angels Backpack: Olympic Peninsula

Due to weather and assorted injuries, my planned Mt Adams climb was canceled. With the weekend free, I headed to the Olympic Peninsula to backpack up to the Lake of the Angels. I wanted to see Mt Stone and Skokomish and possibly summit Stone. A tweaked hamstring limited me to just backpacking in and scrambling around the basin.
A herd of mountain goats joined me at camp and were quite interested in anything that had any trace of salt on it. Needless to say, they followed me quite closely whenever I went to the bathroom which I thought was fairly undignified.

You can see how close the goats got.

For anyone interested in the details of the backpacking trip, here's my beta:

Driving: Forest Road 25 or Hama Hama is passable all the way to the trail head so you can ignore the "Road Closed Ahead Sign". A slide in 2008 had cut off the last 1.2 miles. It's still not completely cleared but it's possible even in a small sedan if you have a lot of confidence.

Hiking Stats: It's a 3.5 mile hike to Lake of the Angels with 3200 feet of elevation gain (4800 feet at the Lake). It took me 5 hours to hike in which included an hour of resting and 3.5 hours to hike out with a similar hiking:resting ratio. The path is fairly clear but steep. At about 2280 feet of elevation, there are 2 crossing over dry creek beds. At about 2400 feet, the trail briefly joins a logging road for about 30 feet. Right above 4000 feet of elevation, there are 2 class 3 scrambles on the trail which are fun but challenging with a 40 pound pack. At Lake of the False Prophet the trail forks to the right but head left, cross a log bridge directly north of the lake and continue up to the Lake of the Angels.

Camping: There are about 3 campsites near the lake and a few further up on the high ground. A marmot had claimed one of the campsites. We had a spirited conversation about squatters vs hiker rights but to no avail.

The park service has great info on road conditions, trail conditions, and even bear canisters if you were so inclined. Since there are no berries up there, it's unlikely that bears will make an appearance but the canister is good for goat and marmot protection. There are a few numbers of the various agencies so try 360-565-3100, 3131, or 3000.

As you can see, it's a beautiful mountain lake and well worth the hike in:

For anyone interested in the 2 peaks around the Lake, a colleague of mine has some extensive photos of Mt Stone and Mt Skokomish from their climb in early June a few year ago. Notice the difference in the amount of snow between June and July!

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