Owyhigh Lakes (Aug 15, 2020)

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owyhigh_lks_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Chinook Pass
Area: Mt Rainier NP
Reference: Day Hiking Mount Rainier
Stats: 10.58mi, 2901' gain (round trip)

Dani reached out about doing a trip. It was going to be a hot weekend and we both tossed around a couple of ideas. Dani suggested Owyhigh Lks coming in the longer way (fewer people). I ended up checking it out. It was longer and had more gain but the gain looked evenly spread out the whole length. It also looked like it was going to be hiking in the trees most of the time which might be good on a really warm/hot day.

We met early (I got to meet their new dog Kimtah...she's a sweetheart) and we headed down to the Chinook Pass area. We pulled into the wide spot on the side of the road to find about 4-5 cars there already (3224'). Wow. We both planned to go pretty light with gear today due to the heat. We geared up and headed down the trail. We walked the shoulder of hwy 123 (be careful of the cars) and picked up the trail on the other side of the road. The trail drops about 200' in the first .5mi. I was thinking to myself that this wouldn't be fun to climb back up later in the day if it got really hot. We reached the low point of the day (2915', 0.39mi) and then started the slow but steady climb up towards the lake.

The trail is mostly a forest hike. This would end up working out well on such a warm day. We reached the bottom of a short series of switchbacks at 2.41mi (4008') and reached the top of those switchbacks at 3.26' (4553') and then the trail returned to a slow rising climb towards the lakes.

Near the western shoulder of Barrier Peak the trail starts to flatten out and opened up into some meadows. We reached the highpoint of the trail at 5256' (4.88mi). When we hiked out into the open we could feel the heat starting to ramp up. It was a bit of a drop to get down to the lakes (5.3mi, 5180'). We found a small clump of trees to get out of the sun and had a nice lunch. It was a really nice break...we spent 90 minutes there! The bugs were minimal.

The hike out was warm. We'd pop out of the trees and the heat felt like an oven. I was honestly really goad to have the mostly forested hike out.

We got to the low point in the trail near the trailhead about 3:30pm. Ugh. Slightly tough hiking uphill with the heat. We were back to the car just before 4pm.
Owyhigh Lakes Slideshow


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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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