Even though Ryan, Charlie, Ollie, and I hiked Pratt Lake just about two weeks ago, the photos from this hike are too beautiful not to share! So today I want to recap our hike along the Pratt Lake Trail, which is an 11.2 mile hike located in the Snoqualmie Pass region of the Cascades in Washington.
The Hike Up
Pratt Lake Trail begins on a soft dirt trail through a forest with a mild but steady incline. On a Friday, we had the trail virtually to ourselves – which was beneficial for Ollie since he is still learning how to hike.
We crossed over several small streams and waterfall along the way, although the crossings were never too precarious. Ollie actually did very well on the water crossings! He was afraid of them when he first encountered them at Snow Lake, but his inner Labrador took over and he hiked them like a pro.
With a 5+ mile hike to the lake, we made sure to fuel well on our hike up. Hiking is sort of like a long run or marathon: you really don’t want to bonk, so you take in plenty of calories and carbs to stay energized. Especially because if you bonk on a hike, you’re at the top of a mountain and pretty much SOL. We snacked on the CLIF Builder Bars that I reviewed recently – which are really, really good. I’m not always a huge fan of bars, but these tasted good and were satisfying for the next couple hours!
Several trails intersect with Pratt Lake Trail, making it an ideal choice if you want to explore several alpine lakes or do a multi-day backpacking trip.
My favorite part of the hike was right when we transitioned out of the forest and saw a spectacular view of Mount Rainier. The lake pictured isn’t Pratt Lake, but one of the other nearby alpine lakes – Island Lake. We hope to hike that one next year!
Pratt Lake Basin
Shortly after we saw Mount Rainier, we began a descent towards the lake. This descent took us through a large boulder field. If there’s one part of hiking I don’t like, it’s climbing down on boulders. They are slippery both from the type of rock and from all of the moss that grows in the Pacific Northwest. This part of the hike was slow and difficult – and whenever we turned a switchback, there seemed to be even more boulders.
I am one of those people who will constantly weight risk and rewards in a situation. I began to get antsy about how long the hike was taking and getting back before sunset.
We finally reached the lake at 5.6 miles, but the day use areas were still a distance away – probably another 0.5 miles from where we were. It was already 2 PM, we were hungry, and Charlie looked like he might start to cry if we didn’t sit down for a break soon (Charlie is very melodramatic). Oh, and I had ran 20 miles the day before and was beginning to feel tired.
Ryan and I considered pushing on, but hiking 12 miles seemed like a little too much – especially when we thought this was only going to be a 10 mile hike and sunset would be before 6 PM. So we decided to begin our journey back – but not without some lunch.
We packed some Mountain House spaghetti and meatball meals for lunch. For a while, I had opted for sandwiches or other homemade meals for lunch, but when you’re hiking for several hours, you want a meal that is hot and hearty. All it took was some boiling water and patience, and then we each had a comforting and filling meal to enjoy.
The Hike Down
I much prefer climbing up a boulder field than down, although an approximately 700 foot ascent on the way back was not desirable. We eagerly welcomed the transition to the soft forest floor and the gentle but not pounding descent. We made it back to our car right as the sky was turning to dusk – which was very good because you don’t want to be hiking in the mountains in the dark when you’re exhausted.
Overall we hiked 11.2 miles and climbed 3000 feet in about 5.5 hours. We were tired but also felt so accomplished!
As soon as we got in the car, both pups fell immediately asleep. Ollie settled onto his spot on the sofa and barely moved – we finally discovered how to tire out our Labraheeler!
And then we ate all of the carbs. Beer, rice, oven fries, chicken, tahini, and green beans – quite a bit of food!
What have you done recently that left you feeling accomplished?