By this time last year, we had already been on a few backpacking trips and several camping adventures. The weather was well into the 80s and summer was definately in the air. But thanks to El Nino, 2010 is a different story. So far summer in the Pacific Northwest has been more like early spring. It has been very wet and unusually chilly, we didn't even break 75 degrees until late last week.
The Scenic Boys couldn't take it any longer! We were longing for some deep, back-country air and an escape from the city life. So come rain or shine, we decided a backpacking trip was necessary! We chose an area that looked like it wasn't going to get too much rain and found a 16 mile loop hike that seemed very promising.
When we arrived in the mountains of central Washington, the evening was clear, the moon was out and the air was warm; warm enough to enjoy the campfire mostly bare. ;) Surprisingly we still had cell reception and were able to update the Scenic Boys Facebook wall with a picture. The rest of our night was spent listening to the frogs and night hawks across the pleasant still evening air.
The Little Wenatchee River trailhead started at 3,000ft, and our plans were to hike up a ridge line, down to a meadow at 5,000ft to camp, then hike out through the valley. There was no sign of anyone else on this trail and we were very excited to get packin'!
The hike up the ridge line was steep and the views were great. We could see the clouds rolling in from the west and knew that rain was immanent. About 3 miles up Caty Ridge, the snowbanks became so abundant they completely covered the trail. A little disappointed that our loop hike was out of the question, we started back down to the trailhead.
After a quick pit stop back at the car, we set out again, this time heading into the Little Wenatchee River valley. The clouds were low and hid the peaks that surrounded us, but the air was still warm. We hiked through a series of old growth evergreen clusters, separated by open meadows covered with Glacier Lilies spreading to the next cluster of old growth trees. This repeated several times but the farther we hiked in, the bigger the snow patches got.
By this time the rain was coming down and we were losing hope of finding a dry, flat spot to set up our tent. As we rested on a wet log completely surrounded by snow, we weighed out our options and decided it was best that we turn around (yet again) and start looking for anything that would work. A dry flat spot is a valuable thing when there are so few at hand. :)
It takes a lot for the Scenic Boys to give-up and just head back. The snow pack and rain storm were not going to keep us from having a fun time! With a little bush-whacking off the trail, we found a great spot above a confluence of three creeks. There was just enough room for our tent on one side of the creeks and barly enough room for us to make dinner on the other side. Thankful that we found a nice spot, we didn't mind foregoing a campfire for the evening. We just crawled into our XL sleeping bag (a fluffy duvet, really) and cuddled all night.
The next morning was very wet. It had rained ALL night and we mentally preparing to be soaked by the time we got back to the car. By the time we got dressed and packed up the temperature had risen and it ended up being a pleasant morning, despite our wet clothes.
The ScenicBoys Lesson from this trip: A rained out backpacking trip is very romantic indeed.