Ahh yes. A middle of the week sunny day-hike to Mildred Lakes in Olympic National Forrest's Skokomish wilderness. My memories are as fond of this hike as they are of a very similar outing - you know - the Lake Constance walk-up. Fortunately I am again rewarded with every mountaineers' saving grace - a short memory.
Our crew of four started at a scenic trailhead with views of the Hamma Hamma river and its powerfully cascading water falls.
Two miles into the hike and we were progressing easily, making very good time. The flowers were beautiful, conversation interesting and jovial, and we all remarked how well the trail was maintained and flagged with red marking tape.
Suddenly, there was no conversation, the trail alternated between faint and non-existant, there were no red trail flags (at least not where they were needed), and we found ourselves scratching and clawing our way up steep, rocky, muddy drainages. Oh...did I mention we were being assaulted by blood sucking mosquitos as well? These conditions remained with us for most of our hike.
Eventually we were rewarded by simple pleasures. As we gained elevation, the mosquitos disappeared, snow began covering the tangles of roots and rocks, and route finding became less confounding.
Then we realized the real payoff. Topping out above the lakes near a cluster of boulders, while basking in the sunshine, we were rewarded with a frontal view of the entire Sawtooth mountain range. Views such as these must be earned. As you will see in pictures below, spectacular peaks in full view included Cruiser, the Fin, the Horn, and many others.
Oh, and what about the lake? Noticing the lake was mostly unfrozen, within 5 minutes we spotted six schools of trout swimming just off-shore. The lake was nice.
Please see the pictures below. If you have a relatively fast internet connection, I highly recommend clicking on each picture for a full screen view.
Hamma Hamma River
Frozen High Country Near Mildred Lake
Mildred Lake (#1)
Climbing Crew (minus Jerry G.)
Sawtooth Mountain Range
Fin and Horn Peaks Close-up
Mt Cruiser and Alpha Close-up