Black and White Lakes
Olympic National Park ~ Staircase
JULY 9 - 11, 2010 A backpack trip with CHS friends. It was hot for this backpack trip to beautiful alpine lakes in Olympic National Park, but the sun was shinning and the sky was bright blue. The trailhead sign was posted with a warning that was new since my last trip here in June: Warning Cougar frequenting area. The Flapjack Lakes trail junction is 4 miles from the Staircase trailhead, and we stopped for lunch before starting the climb up. The forest changes as the trail gains elevation, and before long we were hiking through some of the prettiest old growth forest I have hiked in. We met a Mountaineers group that was hiking out and chatted with them a while since I already knew them. The Madeline Creek bridge washed out, but although time consuming, crossing the creek was not difficult. Indeed, the cold water was refreshing on a hot day. By the time we reached the flats near the Black & White trail junction, we were ready to call it a day and camped alongside the beautiful creek. When we reached Flapjack Lakes the following morning, we were the only people up there and had our pick of the campsites. We set up camp near the shore of the smaller lake and spent the day hiking around the lake. Snow on the trail prevented us from hiking up to Gladys Divide, but there was much to see around the lakes. In the evening we stood on the narrow strip of land that divides the two lakes and watched the sunset. It was an amazing show, with clouds hovering around the tops of the mountains and sunlight filling the lake basin. We waited for alpenglow to brush the mountains, and we were not disappointed with the effect.
In the morning we decided to make it a loop hike, and took the rugged trail to Black and White Lakes. This is one mean trail, and we found it primitive and in sore need of maintenance. We had two more streams to cross, and we clambered over trees blow down over the trail, one of which was at least 4 feet in diameter. This monster covered the trail on a very steep slope, making it a challenge to get over. As we neared the ridge, a steady stream of water rushed down the trail until we reached the snow level. Fortunately it did not go on very far, and we reached the short snow-covered trail to Black and White Lakes. Two of our group opted to rest at that junction, while the other two hiked to Black and White Lakes. There was patchy snow on the slopes above the biggest lake, but the lake itself was mostly melted out. The scenery from the hill above the lake is enough to bring you to your knees. We filtered ice-cold water for the group and rejoined them at the junction. The trail down to Big Log Camp is wickedly steep, and we were all glad to finally be back on the main trail again. It was getting late, however, and we still had 7 miles to hike, albeit 7 easy miles. As dusk fell, we sang silly songs until we stepped off the trail at 10:00 p.m. A grand adventure, but I didn't get home until 1:30 a.m. and had to be at work by 8:00!