My brother Cody and I left a little early from work on Thursday so we could get to trail head before it got dark. We almost made it.
The drive up and through the North Cascades is epic. As usual. Those peaks that seem to pop up and out of nowhere with each bend in the road wink at you. They are glorious.
After the Cascades melt a bit, we passed through the tiny, done-up western town of Winthrop and took the road north to where we traded tarmac for dirt taking us past small campgrounds, windy foothills and further away from civilization. After making it to the trail head with its little sign and small parking area, I turned around to park the car in a little spot I've been before where the two of us could set up camp, eat dinner and sleep.
The next morning we got up fairly early, packed and moved the car up the road about a half mile to the trail. From there we set off at a good pace. Big Craggy Mountain loomed in front of us, making an impression. I had climbed it a few weeks earlier and was semi-glad not to have to do it again. It was good but it's a slog.
After about a mile and a half Cody and I reached the first major switchback and where the old abandoned mine shaft was. It went straight back into the mountain. It smelled. We went as deep as we could. The warning sign outside did nothing to keep us out. Boys will be boys.
We continued on, through steep narrow trails, across meadows and over fallen trees that lay in our way. After another maybe 2 miles we dropped down and could hear and smell water.
The real magic was reaching the first puddle of water. We thought it was the lake and that we had made it only to realize that, we in fact, had not. After continuing up the trail and over a short scree field until we finally saw the lake. It was no puddle.
Packs came off on a nice flat boulder overlooking the water. We ate lunch. Sat around. Threw rocks. It was quiet. The surrounding peaks watched us. We took our time. But there wasn't enough time. There never is.