We got our wilderness camping permit for the weekend of July 12 back in March. As unusual as it sounds in the Seattle area, the forecast promised temperatures in the 90s, but nevertheless we decided to venture out into this subalpine basin. It ended up being a great workout but we promised to never go back until the bug season is over.
We started at the Lena Lake Trailhead at 10am with very warm temperatures. For the first 3 miles you go through endless switchbacks covered in forest shade, with occasional sun exposure. This first part of the trail to Lena Lake is wide, even and very well maintained; which is why it seemed so fast. We stopped for a few minutes at the rock that overlooks the lake and continued our journey towards Upper Lena Lake.
The trail climbs down a few hundred feet before it starts to steepen up, getting rougher all along, just like the description says. The shade was almost gone at this point, and the heat was powerful, so we basically dragged our feet and drank lots of water.
There are multiple stream crossings along the trail, which are in good condition, even the very last one. We did not have to take our shoes off as there were rocks lined up conveniently above the surface.
At about mile six you get surrounded by wildflowers in full bloom, which was quite beautiful.
Four hours after we started the hike we stopped thinking that we had taken a wrong turn, because the lake did not seem to get any closer, but we went on and reached the lake in half an hour.
That was when the mosquitos gave us the warmest welcome. There were not hundreds, but thousands all around us. Perfect timing to test REI’s Jungle Juice, and I have to say it worked. It took us a while to find a shaded campsite big enough to hold two tents, and when we found it we set out to have our happy hour with mozzarella, smoked salmon, crackers and Bandit’s Pinot Grigio wine. The lake is now fully melted.
The bugs never left, and we could still hear them at night outside the tent. The next morning everyone seemed to be in a hurry to leave the lake. We took a long break back at Lena Lake, which has no mosquitos, and got back to the car.