Adventuring Solo: The Pacific Northwest Road Trip – Lake of the Angels

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The view from Ben’s apartment. It’s an okay view I guess.

On Monday morning (day five), I again left Seattle and Ben’s generous hospitality, and headed south and then west down through Tacoma, WA and towards Olympic National Park for the second part of the trip.

I had a little later start to the day than I had intended but after sleeping in a car and then a hammock the prior two nights, I needed my beauty rest.

Once I got out of Tacoma with a car full of goodies, I headed towards the southeastern corner of Olympic NP to hike to the Lake of the Angels.

Going Up

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_DSC0831.jpgI’m not going to hold back here. This is one of the best hikes I have ever done. Full stop. However, don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy either. It’s a seven-plus mile round trip hike with 3,400 feet of elevation gain. Eminem said it best, ‘My palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…’

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I swear it seemed like double that.
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The only flat part ofthe hike. This is about a mile in and the serious uphill is coming soon.
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Always chasin’ waterfalls.
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Stunning.

But the views. Oh my! You could even see Mount Rainier in the distance on the way up and once I got to the lake, it was surrounded by jagged peaks and all green to make a desert boy happy. I’m smiling just thinking back to this adventure.

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Mount Rainier on the horizon.
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Panorama just before I went in the wrong direction.

It wasn’t all sunshine and angels though. I did get lost.

At about the two mile mark, you have to scamper up this rock/tree combo (beautiful views ensue) and then make a quick left. I, though, captivated by the scenery, kept going straight into the wilderness full of flowers.

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The infamous wildflower field. (Sort of looks like a trail on the left.)

Getting Lost

Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was 100% not on the trail, but I figured this was just the section the train that the guide said was hard to find. Nope. Not all.

So I kept going northwest, which was the the general direction of the lake. I, however, had still not found the trail and soon realized I was about 500 feet above it. Luckily, I was able to pull out the REI National Parks app (you should download it) which has the trail marked out.

I then did what any explorer has done before (oh, no? just me?), find a creek and follow it. I literally walked down a creek with it’s mini waterfalls and trees jutting all sorts of ways, with my phone out, pointed directly towards the trail I was aiming for. Eventually, I found it but I did lose a water bottle (RIP) that had previously tried to escape in Glacier and Banff.

I am normally very calm in nature but this scared me. I was alone on this hike, with no cell service, and no one knew where I was. If I got lost I was on my own.

Anyways, once I found the trail, I scooted through the rest of it (finally finding the part where the trail sort of disappears in swamp) and made it to Lake of the Angels. The final uphill into the basin is no joke, so be prepared for your legs to be burning once you lay eyes on the lake.

Lake of the Angels

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Lake of the Angels p1
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Lake of the Angels, p2

The lake, as I touched on earlier, is in a valley surrounded by towering peaks and lush green grass. Additionally, I was able to see my first mountain goat, which may have been more interested in me because it walked from across the lake to within 10 yards of my lounging spot.

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Our curious mountain goat.

Not knowing what do (other than respect nature at all costs) I hid behind a rock (as much as a six-foot-tall man can) and waited to see what it would do. (Just between us, it ate grass and nothing else.)

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Clouds coming over the peaks.

The Way Down

With clouds forming over the northern peaks and my phone battery falling fast, I decided to not spend any longer at the lake and start back, just in case I got lost again. (Again, if you know me, I’m rarely nervous on hikes but this was a new beast.)

The way down was uneventful which was great news and even found the spot where I missed my turn and sent my hike into a slight disarray.

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Don’t make the wrong turn folks.

I was still shaken once I got to the car and called my parents, one as a general update and two to talk to someone and help calm me down. I was never in any danger but as any nature enthusiast knows, things can go from zero to sixty real fast and you don’t want to risk it.

With my parents on the phone, I sped off to Port Angeles, WA and my hostel at the ToadLily Hostel. If you’re traveling through the area, this is a nice spot to stay and quite cheap.

After settling in, I started to plan out Tuesday’s adventure which may have been the most insane, hectic, and awesome day of any vacation I’ve every had.

Stay tuned for the next installment focusing on the ‘gems’ of Olympic National Park.

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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Panorama of the Lake of the Angels.

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