My son joined the Boy Scouts a couple of years ago and early on it was one of those troops that did a lot of car camping which is cool and all but we wanted to really get into the actual camping side of things. Fortunately the troop decided that it would be a good idea to do some backpacking and last week I was reminded of the old adage…ounces equals pounds. The trip to Heather Lake, WA is short. A 45 minute drive from Everett and the hike is maybe 3.5 miles from the trail head (make sure you get a National Park pass) but there is a decent amount of elevation gain and when you are humping a decent sized backpack you quickly discover how out of shape you are and how heavy things become in a backpack. As I restart this blog one of the debates I will toss out there will be: Bear Vault versus Bear Bag for keeping your food and yourself safe from critters as you camp.
Once you get there, Heather Lake is gorgeous. There is a trail that goes all the way around this smallish body of water. Several decent sized camp grounds are placed around the lake and provide easy access to the water. There appears to be a decent number of small fish in the water but our resident fisherman didn’t manage to land any and surprisingly enough there was not a lot of mosquitos.
One bit of not cool… there is no porta-potty or other sanitation facilities. Be prepared to carry in your own water or water filter. My main issue was that it seems that when people do need to take a load off of their minds they do not bother to at least dig a cat hole and there was an abundance of toilet tissue and feminine napkins not far off of the trail. C’mon people… leave no trace please….
The hike can take any where from 90 to 120 minutes and is largely uphill with a few stretches of the trail that are very rocky so make sure you have good shoes or boots. I am going to stick to boots in the future. I twisted my ankle on the way back and its still pretty sore a few days later. Additionally, there is no cell phone service up at the lake. In fact, pretty much once you pass the Masonic Lodge and the Ranger station at Verlot on the Mountain Loop trail you are cut off from the outside world. That’s great from a getting away from it all stand point but have a plan in the event of an emergency (medical or otherwise). Have fun.