The alarm rang a few hours after I had stumbled to bed and my hand shot out to snooze the insistent sound. After a few snooze iterations, I gave up and realized I would not be climbing to any magnificent vistas this morning. Dark grey clouds out my window only cemented this idea as I rolled over and gave back into sleep and my encroaching hangover. Burroughs Mountain at Mt. Rainier was out. But Margaret Lake on Snoqualmie Pass…
By the time I wandered out of my bedroom it was 9 am and the window for early morning epics had long sailed past. But part of my 2018 goals were to hike every weekend, even when it wasn’t a grand adventure. To find time in the little hours to get out, even if the mileage is short or the views less magnificent than what was coming through Instagram that morning. I decided to play with the idea of balance. I went to the farmers market across the street for a leisurely breakfast and grabbed a mushroom tart to eat on the trail. I packed my bag slowly and picked a destination that allowed for minimal driving, crowds and mileage, while still being something I was excited by. And I set off for Snoqualmie Pass at 12 on a Sunday for Margaret Lake.
When I was about 100 feet on the route, I knew I made the right choice. I had plenty of time to enjoy a sunny day next to a beautiful lake, and I was so glad I didn’t listen to the part of my brain whispering to just stay home, it isn’t worth the hassle. My comfort in hiking solo was increasing and strangely, this quick, little jaunt to a lake on Sunday felt more challenging than most of the epics we did this summer. Not physically, but mentally and forced me to rethink how I view my time and the ways I spend it. What more could you ask for from a lake?
Margaret Lake: on the way up
I pulled into the parking lot later than usual, but ready to hit the trail. My second solo hike this month, I felt like I was getting my routine down. Pack up the gear, last minute text and on the trail I went. Or road, in this case.
The route starts by following a logging road, then turning off to another logging road. Slogging up the semi-steep roads was fairly boring until the real trail began.
Soon the route climbed up switchbacks that were so short they simply felt like a squiggle line. The trees were so short that it was easy to look out on Snoqualmie Pass, Keechelus Lake and the surrounding peaks. Old clearcuts are not the most picturesque, but they do provide some pretty great views as you move through them.
The trail was lined with berry bushes that were empty of berries but beginning to turn fall colors. Reds, yellows and oranges broke up the consistent green.
After about two miles, the trail entered older woods and switchbacked more gently. Before too long I reached the junction for Margaret Lake. The path began to immediately descend and I had the passing thought that this was going to be much less fun in the reverse.
I hadn’t seen people in a bit and began to get a little nervous about beasts in the wood, but all was forgotten when I saw the lake.
Chartreuse hills rimmed with high rock towered above the deep blue waters. Surrounded by green, it was a peaceful lake that felt hidden amongst the craziness of i-90 hiking. I grabbed a seat and enjoyed my late lunch. There were a few other groups enjoying the area but I still felt the solitude in my little corner.
By the time I finished lunch I had the lake to myself. I spent some time taking photographs and lounging about before the clock struck 4 and I figured I should start heading out to allow a nice sunset cushion.
The climb out of the basin was much less miserable than expected and I was back at the car in no time. It was a perfect last-minute afternoon hike on one of the last sunny days of summer.