‘Rachel’ You’re one Serene Mountain Lake
It was early Fall when my cousin Nick and I decided to do an overnight backpacking trip to a mountain lake we had researched. The weather was absolutely spectacular for this time of year, and, since we went mid-week, we saw very few people on the trail and we were actually the only ones camping. Rachel Lake is located just north of Snoqualmie Pass, about 90 minutes east of the Seattle area.
The hike to Rachel Lake is about four miles each way, and while many folks do this excursion as a day-hike, it’s simply too wonderful to just turn back without spending a night under a bright, star-filled sky.
The first 2.5 miles of the hike are quite easy and extremely enjoyable, with various streams and waterfalls cascading through the dense flora and fauna. As the trail runs into the forest of Box Canyon Creek, the climb intensifies immensely…the next mile of assent is more than 1300’— in contrast, the previous 2.5 miles is only a modest 300’ gain. The last half mile was a bit more moderate, but you’d hardly know it with tired legs and burning lungs. Seemingly out of nowhere, we had reach the summit and emerged out onto the sunlit shores of Rachel Lake. It was a wonderful hike, but we were both tuckered and famished.
With great jubilation we quickly found a stellar campsite where we got things set up in time to enjoy the views of the lake in one direction, and vistas in the other…all the while the setting sun cast an amber glow upon the scenery. Sipping tequila with a handful of mixed nuts, we embraced the beauty surrounding us while becoming mesmerized by the serenity of being the only souls in sight.
We then gathered some wood for a small fire, filtered some drinking water from the pristine lake (the water was probably clean enough to drink, but when you have a water filter, there’s no reason to take a chance), then prepared a meal that I’ve never had while backpacking…a delicious smoked salmon salad. We actually chopped up vegetables earlier that morning, mixed them with an array of salad greens, then put it all in a ziplock bag. In separate containers we had a honey mustard dressing along with some fresh cherry smoked salmon that my cousin got from a friend in Alaska . I don’t know if it was because we had worked up such an appetite, but that salad was so damn good!
We enjoyed our fire for a spell, but found firewood to be quite scarce (funny, we’re in the middle of the woods and couldn’t find adequate fuel for the fire). The weather was quite delightful, so we ended up staring at the sky for what seemed like a couple of hours…we watched as the stars continued to increase in brightness as the sky turned darker with the loss of sunlight. There was little light pollution and the sky was clear of clouds, so the stars illuminated with a rare brilliance.
The next morning we woke to a beautiful sunrise, and the stillness of the lake provide an awe-inspiring reflection of the surrounding mountains. After exploring the other side of the lake, we relaxed a bit before packing-up and beginning our decent. The trail to/fro Rachel Lake was lush with wild berries…we enjoyed blueberries, blackberries, red and orange salmon berries as well as watermelon berries.
Click the following link if you’d like to see more pictures from Rachel Lake.
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GPS Coordinates: 47.4012 – 121.2848
Goggle Map: Rachel Lake Map
Distance: 4 miles each way (8 miles round trip)
Elevation gain: 1670′
Duration: With heavy packs, it took us 3 hours up and about 2.5 hours back.
Directions: Head east on I-90 to exit 62, then head north about 6 miles (about 90 min. outside Seattle)