This weekend we celebrated Ryan’s birthday (thank you so much to everyone who wished him happy birthday in the comments!) by going hiking at Annette Lake in the Snoqualmie region of the Central Cascades.
Because Ryan is such a kind and supportive husband, he chose a birthday hike that wouldn’t push us to hard – a hike that was in reason for 8 days before my first marathon. It’s a testament to how much fitness we’ve gained as hikers that this was an easy hike; when we had just moved here from the Midwest, even a short hike tried and tested our muscles because of how unaccustomed we were to the incline. I sense some 12-15 mile hikes in our future soon.
Annette Lake was a 7.5 mile round trip hike with, according to the Washington Trails Association, a 1400 foot elevation gain. 1400 feet over 3.75 miles is by no means steep, and a 7-8 mile hike is nothing challenging for our current level of fitness, so we knew this would be a good one.
Annette Lake was, in a word, stunning. Ryan and I both rank it as in our top two favorite hikes, tied with Goat Lake. My parents generously gifted us with sleeping bags (the good ones are expensive!) for our wedding anniversary and we’re eager to get out and camp at Annette Lake and Goat Lake once the Portland Marathon and my RRCA Coaching Seminar in Portland are done.
It took us right under 90 minutes to arrive at the trailhead, which was just off I-90 east of the Issaquah Alps. Our drive would have been shorter had it not been for construction on 405 resulting in atrociously slow traffic, particularly for a Saturday morning. We had only been to the Snoqualmie region when we visited Snoqualmie Falls when my sister was in town. After this hike, we know we will need to explore this region more!
The trail began with a gentle ascent through the woods. Immediately the sound of I-90 was washed away by the thunderous melody of a waterfall, which we were able to view from a bridge within the first mile.
The trail weaved through open fields and back into the woods before climbing more. The terrain was overall soft, with a few sections that featured some rocks exposed from the earth. By no means was this rock scrambling—just simply what happens as the trail climbs higher into the rockier portions of the mountains. Within the final mile, we came across an open boulder field that cut away from the trees and offered a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains. For reference, this photo is taken looking up a slope in the boulder field.
The temperature dropped significantly as we climbed! After numerous sweltering hikes during our record hot summer, we embrace the chillier temperatures, but it does take an adjustment in preparing. Since I’m always cold, I packed layers: in addition to the REI base layer I wore, I had a Prana hiking zip-up, my Northface rain jacket, and my Brooks running gloves and ear-warmer. I’m so grateful Ryan made us pack all this – it was crisp and chilly at the top of the lake, and once my core temperature began to drop from hiking, I definitely needed the extra warmth.
Although the WTA said we would only climb for 1400 feet, we realized this was our net elevation gain. We climbed for 1800 feet over the first three miles, only to descend about 400 feet in the last half mile before reaching the edge of the lake.
We enjoyed a light lunch at the side of the lake and then just sat and soaked in the views. Charlie gulped away at the water (which we let him do since alpine water is some of the cleanest water around and it’s the only way we can get him to drink on hikes without forcing water down his mouth). We then explored around most of the lake, which added an additional mile to our hike, as far as the trail extended. Unlike some lakes, Annette Lake permits camping close to the lake!
We then began our descent down. It took us just under two hours to climb, since we have to stop frequently for puggle potty breaks (I’m not exaggerating: Charlie usually has to make a potty at least every half mile, if not more frequently—I think he marks a trail the whole way up). Occasionally we would stop to chat with other hikers and let Charlie visit with other dogs. We saw several dogs on this hike, including a German shepherd that I think was ready to adopt Charlie as its own baby.
We finished the hike with plenty of daylight, our legs still feeling fresh, and an immense sense of gratitude for all the natural beauty around us. Afterwards we enjoyed a delicious homemade pizza (I’ll be sharing the recipe tomorrow!), some Redhook beer, and our current Netflix obsession (The Fringe). And, of course, we had Ryan’s birthday pumpkin pie!
We had some sad news on Sunday: my parents were going to have to put down one of their dogs, Zeke, whom we adopted from the Humane Society when I was in eighth grade. Zeke was a golden retriever and black lab mix with a heart of gold and he and Charlie shared a special bond. Zeke had suffered from a stroke six years ago and was almost paralyzed; he had some mobility issues after this, but was so happy and healthy until he was diagnosed with cancer over the summer and had quickly deteriorated. We were able to Facetime and say goodbye to Zeke. My parents are so generous, especially when it comes to rescuing dogs in need, so they’re already looking to honor Zeke’s memory by adopting another dog who needs a good home.
Finally: we’re debating what to dress Charlie as for Halloween. We have this hilarious unicorn costume, but we’re also considering a Star Wars character (he destroyed his Yoda costume from two years ago) or a minion.
Questions of the Day:
What dessert do you prefer for your birthday?