Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lower Lena Lake, Olympics

Old trail sign for Lena Lakes tacked on a tree

 Here’s another new trail for us, Lower Lena Lake in the Olympics.  The trail divides near the lower lake and goes up another 4 miles to Upper Lena Lake but we were stopping for lunch at the lower lake, walking around it a bit and then returning to the trailhead.  It is a 6 mile round trip the extra walk to the campground plus around part of the lake adding another ½ mile or so.   The trailhead is at 700 ft, there are 18 switchbacks with an elevation gain of about 1300 ft to end at 2000 ft at the lake.   For us the walk down to the lake and back up to rejoin the main trail added another 200 feet for a total of 1500 ft.  

 Wonderful large trees and peek-a-boo views

Dramatic stone outcropping, suitable for Trolls

 Nice wooden bridges

The weather was perfect for the hike up, cloudy and cool, 55 degrees F; about 65 degrees F at the top; the temperature did hit over 70 degrees F by the end of the day.  There were no bugs!   It is an extremely popular trail.  We saw 66 people and 5 dogs even though this was a weekday.  Because it gets used so much parts of the trail are very rocky and full of roots due to erosion.  

First view of Lower Lena Lake from the trail

 Lower Lena Lake from our lunch spot

Lower Lena Lake beach in the campground

Lots of flowers with some surprises like the first Indian pipe of this year and native rhododendrons still in bloom.  There were coral roots, wintergreens and hundreds of the delicate twinflowers.  Closer to the lakeshore we also found tiger lilies and roses right on the beach.  We saw chipmunks, gray jays, an interesting snail, and a small red spotted garter snake.

Indian Pipe

 Pink Wintergreen


 Tiger Lily

 Nootka Rose

White veined wintergreen

Despite signs instructing campers to be sure their fires were out before leaving the campsite we came across an abandoned fire pit that still held partially burnt logs with hot smoldering coals and was definitely not out.  We didn’t want to use all of our drinking water since we had a hot hike down to the car and would need the water but felt compelled to put out the fire out if we could.  We did end up dumping one of our canteens on it and Bob went down to the lake a few times to refill the canteen with lake water to dump on the logs and coals.  We were not sure it was completely out and alerted campers in the neighboring spots to watch for smoke and if they had a pot or bucket to use lake water to dowse the fire pit again, please.  

I’m not sure if I’m ready to backpack up 18 switchbacks to sleep on hard ground and cook over a camp fire but Lower Lena Lake is gorgeous, the campsites are nice and relatively private with vegetation separating each site.  There is a plaque in memory of scouts and leaders 1927-1941, Boy Scouts of America Tumwater Council, "Where youth learned to appreciate our outdoor heritage."

Typical campsite

There are newer solar composting toilets at the campground; however, they are currently under repair so there are no facilities at the present time.

This poster provides information on what to do if one encounters a cougar or bear.  On another hike awhile back we did see a bear from a distance once but I don't care to come face to face with one.  This did little to alleviate fears as it served to remind me that we were sharing the woods with them even if we didn't see them.  Bob laughs.

Amid tall Douglas Fir trees along the trail at 1500 ft. and bigger trees to be found at the campground at 2000 ft.

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