Getting Kids Out Into Nature

Lake 22 Trip Report

hiking with children, fall hiking, mountain loop highway, kids in nature
Lake 22

Buoyed by our success last week hiking to Talapus and Olallie, we decided to join our hiking friends again this week for a trip up to Lake 22.  It had been 8 or 9 years since I was there; I didn’t enjoy the hike the first time.  I had a toddler Gabriel on my back, and I think the trip was too much at the time.  I was interested to see the lake with a different perspective.

 

We woke up to frosty temps but clear skies, and purposely beat our friends to the trailhead.  I wanted to get a head start up to the lake, since we had an event to attend in the evening, and I knew it would get dark early with the recent time change.  It was freezing at the trailhead, and we futzed around adjusting layers and putting duct tape on feet.

hiking with children, fall hiking, mountain loop highway
The kids at the trailhead

Immediately as we started up the trail I knew the impression I had over the past decade was skewed.

hiking with children, Lake 22, kids in nature, old growth forest, mountain loop highway
Beautiful green forest
lake 22 trail, hiking with children, old growth forest, mountain loop highway
Research Natural Area, set aside for protection

The moss and greenery were soothing, and I really enjoyed hiking next to the burbling creek.  We soon encountered our first obstacle in an iced over boardwalk.

kids in nature, hiking with children, lake 22 trail, mountain loop highway
Icy Boardwalk

Gabe skimmed right over it, but Annika became paralyzed partway along, and it took me several minutes to coax her step by step.  (When my friends eventually caught up with us, we learned that one of them had slipped and fallen on that section.)

 

hiking with children, kids on trail, kids in nature, fall hiking, lake 22
One of many creek crossings on this trail

With that conquered, the kids immediately started bickering about who would be the leader.  Annika wanted to lead, but she kept stopping and struggling over rocks and stream crossings, and Gabriel had no patience to be behind his slow little sister.  He’d get frustrated and push past us, going out of sight around a corner and giving Annika fits.  I figured it would be a miracle if we finished this hike intact.

lake 22, kids in nature
Cool fungi

We only walked for about a half an hour before the kids were complaining and asking to stop for a snack.  I agreed we needed to pull out the food, sit down and regroup.  We sat our stuff down and rested for a few minutes, and then who should be coming up the trail but our friends and their two dogs.  Boy was I happy to see some friendly faces, some backup for me and entertainment and encouragement for my children.

Hiking with children, lake 22 trail,
So happy to see our friends

We quickly repacked our stuff, hoisted our packs, and began hiking again.  I was amazed by some of the huge old cedars along this path.

old growth forest, lake 22 trail, hiking with children
Giant cedar
old growth forest, lake 22 trail, hiking with children
Neon moss

There were multiple water crossings that were beautiful and fun to cross.  (Annika had a hard time with some of these; she found it difficult to pick her way through the moving water and figure out safe footing.)  What a difference it made having other people and dogs along! No more bickering or complaining!  Gabe went up front with the boys again and Annika and I kept the gals company at the end.

lake 22 trail, mountain loop highway, old growth forest
Crossing the Creek

The grade of this trail is steadily up, with some steps and some rocks and roots to negotiate.  It switchbacks upward through the forest, occasionally coming close to rushing waterfalls.  Eventually we reached the talus slope, and stopped for another break and snacks.

hiking with children, sharing nature with children, kids in nature, lake 22 trail
Annika’s expression when she saw the talus slope and how far up we had to climb
lake 22 trail, mountain loop highway
Looking down to the river valley where we started

It felt much cooler out here in the open, the breeze funneling down from the basin up above.

lake 22 trail, sharing nature with children, kids in nature, hiking with children
Frosty mushrooms and moss

We could see down to the valley below, marveling at how high we’d hiked already.  The tops of the mountains across the valley were mostly covered in clouds, but the few that poked through were dusted with snow.

lake 22 trail, hiking with children,
Heading up the talus switchbacks

Pretty soon we continued our trek up the switchbacks through the talus.  Giant big-leaf maple leaves covered the rocks, posing challenges to footing.  Annika had some struggles through this portion, and her vertigo troubled her here due to the exposure.

hiking with children, kids in nature, lake 22 trail
It’s good to hike with friends

But my friends K and C and the dogs kept encouraging and distracting her, and slowly she made her way higher and higher.  We knew once we made it back into the forest, we would be almost to the lake.  We got excited when we saw some traces of earlier snow, some icicles and heavy hoarfrost.

fall hiking, lake 22 trail
Moss icicles

 

insects, washington, lake 22 trail, kids in nature
A late caterpillar hanging around
fall hiking, lake 22 trail, northwest native plants, washington
Pretty red berries

Soon enough we were back in the forest and onto more level ground again.

kids in nature, old growth forest, lake 22 trail
We dubbed this the Hugging Tree

We passed through a former avalanche site, wondering at how far up in the clouds the damaging snow had come from.  The outlet creek area looked so lovely, even in late autumn’s garb.  Then at last we popped out of the forest and onto the lake shore.

hiking with children, mountain loop highway
Lake 22

What joy!  The severe peaks surrounding the lake were softened by a dusting of snow, reflecting onto the glassy surface of the lake.  We traversed the muddiest section right there at the lake, stepped carefully on the slick boardwalk, and gawked awhile at the lake.  Then we found a spot on the boardwalk to sit and rest and eat.

kids in nature, hiking with kids, lake 22
Eating lunch
kids in nature, hiking with children, lake 22
Got him to smile!

 

It was quiet and peaceful there at the lake. We munched on snacks and fed the dogs.

lake 22
C and her hungry dogs

It was real cold, and we put our layers on to stay warm.

kids in nature, hiking with children, lake 22
Annika and The Hiker Mama stay warm

I got my stove out and made hot cocoa for the kids.  I was excited to use my brand new windproof lighter, but I got it out, flicked it, and promptly dropped it in the water running at my feet.  It didn’t light after that.  Jeff had another lighter with him, so he helped me get my stove going (my fingers were getting cold and I was fumbling even with that one.)  While we were heating the water, we found a sluggish frog under the boardwalk.  I thought it was a bit late to be finding frogs, but I’m sure it knows what it’s doing.

washington amphibians, frog at lake 22, kids in nature
Sluggish Frog

 

Soon it started to snow, tiny fine flakes, forming perfect shapes.

lake 22, fall hiking, kids in nature
It’s snowing!

The lake was so glassy that the reflection of the snow falling made it look like it was falling up and down at the same time.  It gave the area a magical feeling, and we were all thrilled by the chance to experience winter.

kids in nature, hiking with children, lake 22
Catching snowflakes

Several other hikers passed us here and along the rest of the hike.  One couple was dressed as if for a casual walk in a park, not even carrying a pack between the two of them.  The clouds made interesting shapes up at the crest of the peaks, the sun breaking through in brief glory.

lake 22, clouds, sunshine
Brief Sunbreak
lake 22, fall hiking, kids in nature
Snow flakes on frozen puddle

We sat there maybe an hour, enjoying the surroundings and resting.  Then we thought we’d better start back down the trail.  But first we had to check out the trail around the lake.

lake 22 trail, hiking with children, kids hiking, fall, winter
Continuing around the lake

We stepped carefully along the frozen sections of boardwalk.  We enjoyed the various ice and frost formations.

ice crystals, nature with children, lake 22
An ice city
frost, winter, lake 22
Ice on stems

Gabe started grumbling; he didn’t want to “waste energy” walking around the lake.  Too bad, everyone else wanted to go.  It was cool to see the lake from all different angles, and to see the environment at the base of the cliffs.

lake 22, hiking with kids
Getting closer
lake 22 cliffs, winter hiking, hiking with children
Icy waterfall
Lake 22
Looking back
lake 22, fall hiking
Collapsed ice cave

The ice caves on the slopes were interesting to observe from up close. Boulders were covered with frost.  The trail winds up and down, in and out, and eventually makes its way back to the main trail. We realized it was getting pretty late, and we thought we’d better hurry the best we could without hurrying.

lake 22, fall hiking
Frosty boulder

Going down was slow, though.  Annika had trouble with the uneven terrain, and one of our friends has vision problems, too, so they both were going about the same pace.  (This wasn’t my first hike this year where we made a joke about the blind leading the blind.)  She did start to really get the hang of using trekking poles, and I think they helped her a lot.  It started snowing again, making a festive feel in the evening light.  We stopped for a rest and more snacks at the end of the talus, and got headlamps ready in case we needed them on the way down. It was getting dim and we were heading back under the trees.  We slowly picked our way back down all the steps and rocks and creek crossings.  It got darker and darker.  Our friend with the vision problem also has a bum knee, and was in a lot of pain, so we were taking our sweet time coming down.  It got pitch black – it felt like it was late, but it was only dinner time.  Annika kept thinking she was seeing bears in the shapes of the fallen logs and shrubs.  We walked down through a layer of fog, our headlamps refracting off the water droplets.  Then we were below the fog, and finally back to the cars. It was 6:20.  We were the last cars in the lot and we were going to miss our evening class.

There may have been some tears – wailing – by some children when their mom said they couldn’t join the others for dinner, but we were all so tired and needed to get up early the next morning.  We got our wet gear off and buttoned everything up as quickly as we could, and drove the winding road back to civilization.  Over pizza that night, Gabe said his favorite part was hiking in the dark.  Annika said hers was the snow and the dogs.  This was our longest hike yet, and I was real proud of the kids for tackling all the obstacles in our way.  What a difference it makes to have a fun group to hike with, too.  We’re already planning our next outing.  We’ll make sure we have spare headlamp batteries, too.

hiking with children, lake 22
Hiker Mama and kids

2 Responses to Lake 22 Trip Report

  1. It is awesome that you put so much time into these. Fun to read and makes me want to hike. I’m sure your son won’t mind “wasting energy” reading this when he is older and remembering old trips. So cool

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