Lake Valhalla

Smithbrook Trail, PCT

October 26, 2008  This hike, although short, had much going for it:  bright blue sky, beautiful woods with patches of snow, a long ridge run with sweeping views, a friendly dog that adopted us, and several people we know.  It was a cold clear morning, 32, when we left the Smithbrook trailhead.  The trail wastes no time switchbacking up to a ridge and a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail.  A dog joined us as we hiked ahead of his owners, and he pretended not to hear them calling for him.  Chingu wanted to hike faster than his owners, and so he opted to hike with us.  At one point his owners caught up to us, but when they turned left towards the lake before we did, Chingu stayed with us.   He rightfully returned his loyalty to his owners, though, once we were all at the lake, and only reluctantly posed for our photographs. 

At 2.7 miles from the Smithbrook trailhead, we dropped to the shores of Lake Valhalla, a small gem along the PCT with Lichtenberg Mountain as its backdrop.  Like most alpine lakes, it is clear and blue, and it looked very cold even though there was no snow along the shore.   We were joined by a couple and discovered that this man was the leader of a Mountaineers' snowshoe trip I was on in March, during which we had not reached the lake.   Small world!  The sun was warm but the wind was brisk, so we cut our stay at the lake short and headed back to the car.  We made a comfort stop at the Stevens Pass PCT trailhead, only to meet the head and one of the instructors of our CHS program and two of our CHS/ACS peers.   Of the ten people we met today, we knew five of them.  Small world indeed!

5.4 miles roundtrip

Approximately 1400' gain