Exploring Ancient Lakes, Washington

What happens when the weather won’t comply with your plans? Miriam Subbiah details a weekend defined by new adventures and going with the flow (or weather report).

The four of us met online, Instagram actually, through a She Explores gathering a few months ago now. We are all outdoors women in our twenties, living and working in Seattle during the week and trying to spend as many weekends outside as possible. Catapulted from our initial hike meet up, we were camping together in Oregon within weeks and already planning this backpacking trip immediately after.

We chose to follow the sun, bailing on our initial plan of a fire lookout in the Cascades when the weather looked foreboding. It was October 1st, but we figured we could run from the rain a little longer.

As we set off in the car from Seattle at 6am, we realized that this was the first all-female backpacking trip for most of us. There was talk about napping on the drive up over Snoqualmie Pass and into Central Washington, but we were all too excited.

We reached the Ancient Lakes trailhead around 9am and had the parking lot to ourselves. On top of the solitude, the trek in was an easy two mile walk with spectacular views of the cataract canyon and a cascading waterfall. Alone on the trail, we chose the prime camp spot — situated at the center of three of the lakes and raised up slightly on a grassy knoll. We immediately dropped our packs, setup camp and then scrambled over a few boulders to a lunch spot overlooking the largest of the lakes.

The views made it hard to believe we were still in Washington, only two and a half hours from home. As most of us do not go farther than the Cascades an an average weekend, the warm yellows and oranges of the desert were an exhilarating change from the misty Evergreens anyone on Instagram knows and loves. And it was endlessly sunny. Even though it was only October, the sun-drenched days of Seattle’s summer already felt long gone.

The rest of the afternoon was spent climbing atop a waterfall at one edge of a lake and following an unmarked trail up the canyon wall to the top of the basin. We basked in our tent with the rainfly off, a luxury not often enjoyed in most Washington camp spots. Leslie took a nap, Laura listened to a podcast, and I snapped photos of our view from that weekend’s “couch.”

As the light got longer, Bri opened up her collapsible sleeve of whiskey and passed it around.

In the morning, our camp stove would not start, we were mostly still freezing from the night before, and there was not any spectacular sunrise to enjoy — so we packed up and made a beeline for the nearest coffee shop and hand wash. Needless to say, the morale was still high from a weekend well spent.

Photos and words by Miriam Subbiah.

Check out her work at:

www.miriamsubbiah.com

@MiriamSubbiah