Lake Augusta (Jul 29-30, 2011)

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lk_augusta_coverConditions: overnight backpack
Gear: overnight stuff
Map: USGS Big Jim Mountain, USGS Winton
Area: Stevens Pass
Reference: 100 Hikes in Washington's Alpine Lakes
Stats: 15.5mi, 5510' gain (round trip)

This was a return trip to Lake Augusta for me. Something to prove I guess..

I decided to come in via the Hatchery Creek Trail. I guess I'd conveniently forgotten how steep and brushy that first bit of trail is. Bleh... But I had to pay the piper to see the views. I left early from work on Friday and had the car packed. Up and over Highway 2 and them up the FS road to the trailhead. Well barely a trailhead. Not a lot of parking. More a wide stop in a road that just seems to peter out. It was late (2pm) by the time I'd started hiking...and hot. This was going to hurt.

The TH is at about 2800' and gains 2000+ feet in the first 1.8 miles or so. Oh and the trail is brushy, real brushy down low. It was so hot I felt I could barely breath. Finally though the grade eased up but not much. The trail stays right on the shoulder and doesn't really switch back. In sections it's pretty eroded. As the tree cover starts to thin the trail junction for the route into the Bandlands appeared. I'd been that way before. More of a grunt to get to Big Jim that way (lots of elevation loss only to have to gain is back) but gorgeous and less travelled country.

At about 3 miles I finally hit, and crossed over the main ridge. The trail drops down the south side of Pt 6296 and traverses through gorgeous meadows filled with flowers late into the season. Eventually that trail drops in a series of switchbacks as it nears the head of Cabin Creek. I thought about camping down lower here but really wanted to head up to the Lake to camp. It was getting late so I found a nice existing campsite in some trees and pitched my tent. One other tent I could see a bit higher up the trail. After I had set up camp, a FS Ranger wandered over to say hello, he was camping further back in the trees and was doing what looked like light maintenance on the trail (cleaning ditches, etc). We chatted a while and he so kindly offered to dig a "hole" for me. Awesome. FS people so rarely get the thanks they have earned. After a bit he wandered back to his camp and time to eat. It was getting late. But oh...the mozies. Boy were they bad. Irritating in the middle of the day, voracious as the sun went down. I huddled in my tent to escape from them a read the thin paperback book I had brought.

In the morning, I woke early and continued up the trail to Lake Augusta. Bits of snow still lingering and glacier lilies still sprouting up. I reached the lake and continued on the trail do the saddle on the ridge to the west of Lake Augusta. I've been wanting to hike up Big Jim for a while. I thought I'd give it a try. I was still a bit unaccustomed to the new knees as it was not even 18 months since the big surgery. Well I thought...not a big deal...I'd go as far as I was comfortable and them when I wasn't anymore...time to quit. I made it to a high point just west of the lake and then decided it wasn't fun. Big Jim will always be there for another day.

So back down to the lake for a rest, then back to camp to pack up and then the hike out.

Oh yeah...that stuffy, brushy, steep Hatchery Creek trail was still there on my hike out and it wasn't any more fun on the way out then on the way in!
Lake Augusta Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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