April 3, 2010

Putting the “lost” back in “Lost Lake”

Filed under: Hiking — geezerwriter @ 12:39 pm

The forecast called for rain last Thursday, but it wasn’t the weather that gave us the most grief. Pat wasn’t able to come and his absence definitely had ramifications, since there was no one on the hike who was really familiar with it. A couple of the hikers had been along before, but no one had ever led it, including yours truly.

It is not an officially listed hike in anyone’s book, but we call it “Burnout Road”. You start up Fragrance Lake Road (from the Clayton Beach trailhead on Chuckanut Drive) and take the fork onto a gated road. Somewhere I saw it labeled as “South Chuckanut Road”, but we will probably keep calling it Burnout Road forever.

On the way up the road it is mostly wooded, but you get the occasional nice view out over the water:

At the end of the road there is a “Y” – the left fork looks like an abandoned road and the right one turns into a trail. My understanding was that we should follow the trail and we would join up with another (unofficial and unmarked) trail that we used in January to go around Lost Lake. But this time we were to turn left and go back towards Fragrance Lake Road, making for a hike of about 8 miles.

We started down the trail, which descended very, very steeply, dropping 500 feet in less than half a mile. That morning I had quickly installed in my GPS some waypoints from the previous Lost Lake hike, so I knew basically where we wanted to get to, but only “as the crow flies”. That was of limited use, however, since we didn’t have any crows along with us. I had my eyes peeled for a trail going off to the left, but didn’t see one – there was one little disturbance to the side of the trail at one point, but otherwise nothing.

After a while the trail flattened and widened, following an old road bed. I was already getting suspicious that we’d gone too far when we came a junction that looked familiar – normally “familiar” is a good thing, but not so much when you’ve never been on the hike before! But there are things that “look familiar” in these woods, and going back the way we’d come did not appeal (remember that very, very steep trail we’d come down?). Worse comes to worst, we would end up at Lost Lake, making the hike quite a bit longer than we’d planned.

Lunch by the Lake

Lunch by the Lake

I had pretty much kept my concerns to myself, but when we came over a little rise and I looked down on a good-sized lake, it was clear that Worse had indeed come to Worst, so I stopped and announced our situation to the group. At this point there was no real choice except to press on, even though that meant going all the way around Lost Lake, which could easily have been named Long Lake, since it is very, very long. The choice was then between going on around a very, very long lake of backtracking up a very, very steep hill, so on we went.

We ended up covering 11.5 miles with about 3000 feet of elevation gain – quite a bit more than planned, but as usual there were no complaints. We’d had a nice lunch break by the lake and it was even sunny by the time we got back to the cars.


When I got home and connected the GPS up to the computer I found that we should have found that trail junction after we’d gone only about half way down the very, very steep hill. (Maybe that little aberration in the side of the trail was the real deal.) And I had, in my haste, loaded the waypoints from an earlier hike to Lost Lake that took another trail, so my distance estimates were a bit askew the whole time. Sigh.

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