Tuck & Robin Lake (Aug 22-23, 2007)

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tuck_robin_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS The Cradle
Area: Salmon la Sac
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's Alpine Lakes, Climbing Washington's Mountains (Smoot)
Stats: 16.2mi, 4406' gain (round trip)

This year was working out a little strange for me. I had the whole summer off and was trying to get as much hiking in as possible. I felt strong but at the same time...weak. I figured I needed to head out on a solo trip to get my head straight. I'd be starting a new job in about a week and I wanted to start it off with the right attitude.

I'd heard "stories" of Tuck and Robin Lakes before. I'd heard it was hard getting there. I'd heard the trail was not maintained and rough. I'd heard it was like a mini Enchantments. I'd heard it was crowded, getting more crowded and permits were needed to protect it just like the Upper Enchantments. I'd find out most of this was true.

I figured I'd head out mid week. If this place really was that crowded, mid week should avoid the worst of the crowds...

I headed up to Roslyn and began the long drive up the well graded Cle Elum Valley Rd to the Hyas Lake/Deception Pass TH. I parked the car, hung my pass, settled my backpack and then started hiking up the trail. The trail is flat at first staying low to the valley bottom. In no time I was at Hyas Lake. Shortly after this, at about 3.25mi, the trail turns uphill (towards Deception Pass). I followed the trail uphill for a bit. I'd heard the trail cutting over to Tuck and Robin was not maintained so I wasn't sure what to look for in terms of an indication of a trail. About 3/4mi uphill (at the 4mi mark) I saw a trail/boot path heading off to my right. This must be it. The trail wasn't too bad at first but then this was when the trail traversed the hillside, only gaining 400' in elevation, and was before a steeper section of trail below Tuck Lake. When I reached this steeper section, about 1/2 mi from the main trail, I could see what people were talking about when they said bad trail or unmaintained. The trail was steep in sections, eroded in others, but generally, not in all that bad shape. It wasn't all that hard to follow.

I got to the outlet of Tuck Lake (about 5mi from the car) and following the "main trail" was a bit harder. There appeared to be several social trails meandering around. I eventually found my way, I was heading for a minor ridge that started right at Tucks Pots (south of Tuck Lake) that pretty much headed east, up and towards Robin Lakes. It seemed like the worst of the bad trail was below me (mucky, eroded, lots of social trails). Higher up, the granite started to take over. I started seeing some carefully placed cairns (seemed just the right amount...when I'd slow down to check my course I could scout out a ways uphill and I'd see a new cairn). I finally reached lower Robin Lake at just over 6mi (from the car). Ahh...now I could see what people remarked about. If the lower lake was any indication...I'd have a nice weekend. As of now, I was still the only person (that I could tell) was in the area.

I headed a bit more "up" from the lower lake outlet. I wanted to find an established campsite a ways off the lakes edge. I found one on the north side of upper Robin Lakes. I was still the only person up here that I could tell. I dropped my pack, and set up camp. I was warned about mountain goats but they must have been on vacation during the week, I never saw one goat both days.

I'd had an early start today so I still had plenty of time to scout around. Trico Mtn and Granite Mtn were easy enough walk up hikes that I wanted to tuck them both in. First I'd head for Trico. Seemed easy enough for me. It's a gentle ridge that climbs up with views down to the Granite Mtn Potholes (looked like a nice place to explore). I figured I was at the top when I couldn't' go any further. Trico Mtn gets it's name because it is the intersection of three counties (King, Kittitas, and Chelan). I headed back down to Robin Lakes, rounded the south shore of the upper lake and headed for the gap just west of the top of Granite. From the gap it was an easy walk up to the top.

It was starting to get late. I wanted to explore around the lakes in the evening, take some photos, and enjoy the sunset. I figured with the aspect of the lakes to the sunset, I should get decent views. I wasn't disappointed.

I found a nice little bump (Pt6390 on the map) so set plop my sit pad and make some dinner. Ah...my first hiker. I found a small group camped along upper Robin Lake and they had the same idea as me. We said hello to each other.

It was a beautiful sunset. Mt Daniel in the distance, snow covered and taking over the landscape. The clouds rolled in from the west and the sunset cast an orange halo over the night sky. I watched the sunset to it's fullest, then walked back to my tent by headlamp. Time for some sleep.

In the morning I took my time...slept in, late breakfast...I wasn't working yet, there was no need to rush back into town, so I wasn't in a hurry. Eventually I did pack up and head out.

My thoughts on Tuck and Robin Lakes...

This is a really spectacular area. Yes, very much like a mini Enchantments. I can see the lure it is. While I've heard the place is crawling with people during the summer months, I didn't see that but given how established the campsites were and how beaten in the trail is (for an unmaintained trail) evidence of crowds is all around you. I'd say best to go mid week. That said, I can see how the powers that be could or should be considering a permit system for this area. I can guess that the trail is unmaintained because if it was maintained making it easier to get there, there would likely be even more visitation.
Tuck & Robin Lakes Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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