I am happy to report that the stab wound in my hand is getting much better. And I know what you are thinking. No, I did not get into some brawl at the local Wenatchee honky tonk. I managed to stab myself with my leatherman tool. They profess to be instruments of great versatility, like a Swiss army knife, but I have come to loathe them. They tempt me every time with the needle-nose pliers, which, quite frankly, I have never really used. The knife part of them is terrible and I end up cutting myself every time. I did this while in our campsite on Fish Creek. It was a deep stab, but as mentioned above, all seems to be well now. Why do I keep that damn thing? I hate it. Note to self, throw away the damn leatherman.
The weather has been quite nice so we have been out hiking a lot. Things have improved significantly from the first day where it ended up in a complete Fuster Cluck. The best day for sure was our hike up the Lake Valhalla (shown in the previous post). Hiking here is pretty challenging. Almost everything starts with a trail that just goes straight up the hill for about a 1000′ in a mile. Ouchy. The technical term for that, my friends, is “steep.” Our friend Esther summed up the hiking here the best:
“Almost everywhere there is steep. Long and steep. Short and steep. Steep…and steeper”
So let me do a quick sum up of our hiking experience here thus far.
Eightmile Lake: Don’t know. No dogs. Grrrr.
Old Pipeline Bed Trail: This located just outside of Leavenworth and was our fall-back from the disaster at Eightmile Lake. It goes along the Wenatchee river and is pretty easy. The road noise from Highway 2 is a bit of a bummer, but the river is gorgeous and we saw some huge salmon in there. Total length was about 3 miles out and back with minimal climbing.
Clara Lake: At the end of the road at Mission Ridge Ski Area, this is a quad-cruncher. 900′ in 0.85 miles. Ouchy pouchy. We thought this was going to be an easy morning hike. Nope.
Lake Valhalla: Wow, oh wow, oh wow. Not a hard hike, but man is it beautiful. Crowded for sure, but well worth it. 6.2 miles in length and about 1300′ of vertical. Most the vertical comes in the first mile. By local standards, this is easy peasy.
Merritt Lake: Located on highway 2 toward Stevens pass, this was a “shorter” hike that we spotted on the map. The trail description said it was a 6 mile out and back with 1900′ of climbing. Not too outrageous….until you find out that most of that climbing comes in the first 1.4 miles. Steep (see above). The weather started out pretty nice, but as we climbed up, it got quite smoky. I guess there was a fire pretty close by that was blowing smoke into the basin. Bummer. The lake was pretty, but the smoke made us forego any fishing and head on back down the mountain.
Ingalls Creek: This was a new area for us and after the last 3 days of quad-busting uphill, Susanne found us a nice hike along a creek that headed back in the Alpine Lake Wilderness area. It also had the advantage of being a bit of a shorter drive. We got there and decided to not take our hiking poles because it was supposed to be pretty “flat.”
Mistake. Although it only climbs 1400′ over the 14 miles of the total trail, the first mile climbed 800′ of that. Sheesh. So much for flat.
It was a very lovely hike and creek was gorgeous with its waterfalls and emerald green water. We hiked in about 2.5 miles and then found a place to have lunch and try out a little fishing. It was very tight and quite different than lake fishing. My 5 weight rod was pretty big, but you could just flip it out into the stream where you needed. You would get at most 8′ to 10′ of drift before you had to recast.
On the second cast I got a rise. Yeah! I handed the pole over to Susanne and she gave it go. After a few minutes she got a feisty little mountain trout on the line. It fought surprisingly hard for a 8″ trout, but these fish in the fast moving streams are pretty tough buggers.
We fished for a while and I caught a couple as well. It was really quite fun fishing and they were some gorgeous rainbows. There were some bigger pools down lower that probably had some good size fish in them, but we did not try them out. We met a guy on the trail headed up to go bow hunting for elk. He was quite friendly and we chatted for a while. He said his friend had told him there were some really big Dolly Varden trout in the lake and the stream. We will have to come back. I will say that the people here have been super friendly and talkative — small towns are nice that way.